Last Friday and Saturday I attened the 25th annual meeting of the Society for Political Methodology here in Ann Arbor. This is the analogue of the Econometric Society for political scientists, but without the theorists. Michigan is very strong in quantitative political science so I thought this would be a good chance to get to know some of my colleagues better and also to see what was going on in this literature. Political methodologists often read both the economics and the statistics literatures which gives them an advantage of sorts over most economists and most statisticians, who read only in their own discipline.
1. Political science is going through the same non-parametric revolution now that economics went through about 15 years ago which produces a sort of deja vu as assumptions are tossed overboard in a (hopeless?) quest for purely data driven inference.
2. Political methodologists drink more than labor economists.
3. Political methodologists interrupt in presentations, which makes the visiting economist feel at home. They can even get a bit testy at times.
4. Political methodologists also fret about who to cite for the potential outcomes framework.
5. Not many, but a few, political methodologists surf the internet on their laptops during presentations.
6. I have never been to a conference that set aside so much time for discussion. Basically there are four papers a day in 90 minutes slot with a long lunch and a reception and dinners and with much of the 90 minutes set aside for the discussant and for audience comments. The time is well used; I have not been to a conference where the discussions (including lunch and dinner) had as a high a substance / gossip ratio in a while.
7. The triumphalist panel that ended the conference and celebrated the growth of the society over the past 25 years reminded me a lot so similar triumphal speeches at the Society of Labor Economists meetings.
It's really quite easy.
1 year ago