Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A couple of brief items this week:

I exchanged e-mails the other day with University of Wisconsin-Madison Political Science Professor (and University of Michigan Ph.D.) Charles Franklin. Every summer, the UM's Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) offers a summer statistics program that attracts both instructors and students from around the nation; people from UM also participate.

Charles has taught many ICPSR summer courses over the years, and it so happens that I took his 1985 class on linear models (multiple regression), which occurred during the summer between my first and second years of grad school. At the time, Charles was a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis.

I recently re-discovered Charles after 20 years via his blog on statistical analysis in political science, Political Arithmetik. He had done a series of postings on the rise in President Bush's job approval rating in various polls from roughly 35 percent a little while back to the low 40s at the moment. I e-mailed Charles to suggest that perhaps Bush's recent increase resulted, at least in part, from regression toward the mean; I also mentioned that I had taken an ICPSR course from him, and let him know where I had ended up. He sent me a nice reply, although he was less than convinced on the matter of regression toward the mean.


Also this week, completely out of the blue, I received an article reprint in the mail. Describing himself as an "old Ann Arbor graduate" in an attached note, Norm Feather had sent me a recent article of his entitled "Social psychology in Australia: Past and present," from the International Journal of Psychology. From the article, it appears Norm has taught at Australian universities for roughly the last 45 years, including at Flinders University since 1968.

In a section of the article covering the period from immediately after World War II until the 1980s, Norm notes that among "early figures in Australian social psychology... the majority obtained their doctorate in the United States -- Harvard and Michigan being two of the major centres..." (p. 266, my emphasis added).

In fact, two of my fellow UM grad students from the 1980s, Bill von Hippel (social psychology) and Bonnie Barber (developmental), have moved to Australia for faculty positions in recent years.