Monday, November 17, 2008
A Research Rant
Doing research is really annoying. I'm interested in lots of things, so the prospect of one day becoming a professor and getting paid to think about whatever I want all day is nice. So is the prospect of having summers off to go hiking and run ultras. But I'm not sure I'm interested enough in one particular thing to actually do decent research on it. I'm mostly just interested to the level that, if I had all the time in the world, I'd like to read one well-written book about the subject. For example, I'm interested in the American west: the Colorado River Compact, dams, forest fires, and recreation on public land. But I'm also interested in international development: central Asia specifically, and what economic policies could strengthen central governments to help end the rule of the gun, and whether tourism or sports can really lead to development. And I'm interested in pop culture and sports: Most movies are rated R, but the top grossing film every year is only rarely R, so are the studios leaving money on the table? Does being a backup for longer make a QB more likely to succeed in the NFL once he starts? What are the best indicators of future success that teams could use in the NFL draft? Does winning awards in a sport increase pressure/fame and decrease later performance? And I'm interested in politics (The minimum wage, unionization and the NLRB, has the US economy grown faster when the legislative and executive branches were from opposite parties? Do endorsements actually change voter behavior? How much of judges' behavior can be explained by who appointed them?) But once I actually get studying about these things, I find that I don't really care about the details, and that's where the devil is. OK. Enough of that. Back to work.