Yesterday, Vox ran a story about changes in food consumption patterns in the United States over the past few decades. It featured this graph: Vox Time Series When I saw it, one of those little bells went off in my head: As a rule, when you see a sharp change in a long-running time-series, you should always check to see if some aspect of the data-generating process changed—such as the measurement device or the criteria for inclusion in the dataset—before coming up with any substantive stories about what happened and why.

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Recently Tyler Cowen asked whether there has been progress in Philosophy. Agnes Callard wrote a thoughtful reply, saying amongst other things: We don’t demand progress in the fields of fashion or literature, because these things please us. Philosophy, by contrast, is bitter, and we want to know what good it will do us, and when, finally, it will be over. It is not pleasant to be told that maybe you don’t know who you are, or how to treat your friends, or how to be happy.

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Recent Work

  • “Transformative Treatments.” Noûs 52: 320–335. Abstract  pdf
  • “Visualizing the Baby Boom.” Socius 4: 1-2 Abstract  pdf
  • “The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain Text Social Science.” Abstract  pdf
  • Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction. Forthcoming. Princeton University Press. Preorder on Amazon Abstract
  • “By the Numbers.” European Journal of Sociology (2017), 58:512-519 Abstract  pdf

Current Teaching


about

I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.

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