Category Archives: Academic Life

The View from the NEPSA Annual Meeting

This weekend, I will deliver my annual report on the state of Massachusetts politics to the New England Politics Roundtable at the New England Political Science Association’s annual meeting. For a comprehensive reconsideration of the state of Massachusetts politics last year at this time, you can (re)read my New England Journal of Political Science piece from last spring here.

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Professors (Over)React to Kristof’s Plea

New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, wrote a column the other day lamenting that professors are not sufficiently engaged in the public sphere. When I first encountered the piece, I skimmed it, recognizing familiar arguments and claims, and thinking that in general a call for greater participation by academics in public debate and dialogue is healthy enough, and certainly not offensive. As I often do, I posted it to my Facebook page along with other articles I intended to look more closely at later, with a note of agreement. Soon thereafter, I came upon a couple of very thorough and negative critiques of Kristof’s column, written by professors who see themselves and their fellows as highly engaged.

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Dr. Krauthammer’s Bad Medicine

What’s a right wing pundit to do when everything he claim about the Affordable Care Act crumbles with scrutiny? Charles Krauthammer shows the way in his latest column, “The Healthcare Myths We Live By.”

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The Outrage Industry

Tufts University Professors Jeffrey Berry and Sarah Sobeiraj have just published The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility. The book, which the authors describe and discuss here and here, is timely, insightful, and a good read.

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What if all media reporting and analysis of elections were done by political scientists?

The coverage of electoral politics by the news media includes very little realistic discussion of partisanship in the voting booth, but journalists and pundits aren’t unique in this respect. Politicians, political operatives, consultants, and even professional pollsters also regularly traffic in self-interested misinformation regarding the partisanship of voters. This Washington Post piece by Sean Sullivan recently caught my eye because it does not suffer from this common defect. In fact, it looks to me like a good example of the kind of political journalism that political science bloggers like us here at Masspoliticsprofs hope to inspire. It is also quite consistent with this piece by political scientist Alan Abramowitz, published on the same day. Is it a harbinger of positive change in the political news media, or just evidence of a slow news cycle?

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The Jacoby Files: Climate Change Denial Edition.

Thursday’s climate change denial column by Jeff Jacoby is a classic. His latest effort to pretend that he and his fellow anti-science wingnuts are actually the wise and level headed debunkers of shrill alarmism is based on what he thinks is potent evidence that the climate change jig is up. His smoking gun is a poll of meteorologists in which “[o]nly a bare majority, 52 percent, said that climate change is largely being driven by human activity.”

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Hypocrisy, Human Reason, & New Frontiers in Political Science

I feel like there was a time when the charge of hypocrisy was a powerful indictment in our politics and our society in general. Today, however, it seems clear that the widely accepted intellectual standards, against which the targets of hypocrisy charges are implicitly being unfavorably compared, are no longer “widely accepted.”

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Media Speculation about Warren and Brown

Scott Brown’s prospects for a return to the Senate from New Hampshire and Elizabeth Warren’s potential as a 2016 Democratic contender for the White House have become popular subjects of media speculation lately. Considering how much time and energy we here at Masspoliticsprofs gave to the 2012 epic battle between these two, I thought it appropriate to weigh in.

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Tea Party Anti-Intellectuals Peddling Bad Faith and Bad Reason

Could the credibility of folks who pass for conservative public intellectuals be one of the casualties of the take over of the conservative movement in America by anti-intellectuals? Have the low intellectual standards of conservative politicians, activists, and talk radio comedians like Limbaugh and Boston’s own Howie Carr, rubbed off on the right’s “public intellectuals?”

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Rebuttal to WBUR’s John Sivolella: Americans actually do know who to blame.

John Sivolella is a contributor at who argues in his latest column that those assuming that the blame for the shutdown will be born entirely by the Republicans should “think again.” I’m afraid I have to disagree and write a “not so fast” rebuttal to Mr. Sivolella’s “not so fast” argument. It’s not that he is off base to suggest that reality will be more complicated than the version of conventional wisdom being disseminated in the mass media regarding the political implications of the shutdown; it’s that his argument about why the conventional wisdom may be wrong is…well…wrong, in my humble opinion.

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