Tuesday, March 21, 2017

UGA is #5 Top PhD Program

The hed says it all, our PhD program is ranked #5 among communications programs in the U.S. by something called PhDs.org. You can check out the page yourself, fiddle with the data and such, but I'm gonna sum up the important stuff below. Oh, and also note if you look at the list that UGA is #1 among those identified specifically as mass communications programs. Woot.

Here are the overall Top 5
  1. Stanford
  2. Cornell
  3. Michigan State
  4. UPenn
  5. Georgia
How about that? We're #1 in the South, #5 in the nation, at least by these rankings. Our nearest SEC competition is Mizzou at #11 and I'm a bit baffled by the University of Florida's lack of appearance, at least early on in the list. Weird. UGA's speech comm program is further down the list too. Just so you understand, this list includes mass and speech comm, with in some places are together and in others far far apart. That's why UNC appears twice.

You can alter the list some depending on how you want to weight it, and we turn out high in terms of student outcomes (i.e., doc students getting jobs). If you order it by lower tuition, we're #2 in the nation. We drop when you order it by minority students and faculty, but not out of the Top 20, and our female to faculty ratio puts us at #3.

So what's this all mean? Not a lot, but it's comforting to see even if I don't deal a lot any more with doctoral students (I'm on, I think a couple of committees, but rarely if ever do I rate a class taught only at the doctoral level).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Oldest Web Pages at UGA

So, you ask, who was first at UGA on the web? Of course you asked that. I heard you.

First, keep in mind the web, as in the World Wide Web, is a relatively recent advance. The Internet has been around, technically, since 1969. (As an aside, I first went online in 1987. It was January. It was raining). The web was invented in 1989 but it was the mid-1990s before it truly became a factor for most folks. I think I played with it some in 1991 or 1992. Too long ago to remember.

Now, back to my point.

Using the magic of the Way Back Machine, we can see UGA's first page appears in February 1997. Not bad. Not great, mind you, but not bad -- and it beats UF by a couple of months, at least as measured by accessing of the Way Back Machine. I agree this is not a perfect measure, but it's what I have, so here are some of the likeliest UGA colleges. I omitted newer ones because, after all, they weren't around.

Oldest First UGA Pages
  • Grady College (journalism) -- Nov. 6, 1996. First, always, even before UGA itself.
  • Family & Consumer Sciences -- Jan. 19, 1997
  • Terry College (biz) April 8, 1997 (UPDATED, see comments below)
  • Ecology -- June 18, 1997
  • Pharmacy -- June 27, 1997
  • Education college -- July 6, 1997
  • VetMed -- Jan. 30, 1998
  • Forestry (later Warnell) (May 30, 1998)
  • Franklin College (arts & sciences) -- Dec. 12, 1998
  • Law -- July 28, 2001 (sigh, lawyers)
It's possible the names of the URLs changed, so maybe law.uga.edu was something else before and I missed it. My initial search for Warnell, as an example, didn't make sense, so I searched for forestry.uga.edu and sure enough they'd been around longer. I tried bizschool.uga.edu and business.uga.edu for Terry, but nothing popped up. I can't believe they didn't have a site until 2000, but then again, maybe they saw no money to be made in the whole Internet thing. I'm guessing I have the wrong URL somehow before they adopted terry.uga.edu.

Why was Grady a bit ahead of the UGA curve? Credit Scott Shamp and the old "mega-lab" that did some of our early Internet stuff, which later became the Dowden Center, which eventually became the New Media Institute here at Grady. Shamp is now at FSU doing some administrative crud, but when here his students were among the first at UGA to mess with the web.

Corrections or additions welcome. I didn't spend time typing in every possible uga.edu URL out there, though I suspect at least some had to predate Grady.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017's Happiest Places -- Sorta

Source: WalletHub

Wallethub, which loves to crank data and create clickable shareable content, has its 2017 happiest cities to live list out. Click on the link and you can sort the list lots of different ways, the most obvious one being by rank. California dominates among the highest ranking cities. The first Georgia city, Atlanta, comes in at #83.

Athens, Georgia, where I live and pretend to work, is not on the list. At all. Mainly because Athens, though a metro area, isn't among the 150 biggest cities in the U.S. We missed the cut, basically. Way missed it. By one list, we're 218th largest metropolitan area with a population of 213,189. The metro area with at #150, on that same list, has 340K. If we go by city population rather than metro area, we're at #221 in population. So either way you crank the numbers, we're not even close to the 150 mark and being included on this particular list.

How would Athens do if it did make the list? I'm not about to crank all the weighted data listed on Wallethub's methodology page, so you'll just have to wonder, but we'd have to score higher than Atlanta.

Oh, Detroit and Cleveland score the worst. Coming in at the third worst is Augusta, Georgia, surprising absolutely no one who has spent time there. Columbus, Georgia, is also high -- in terms of being the worst. So congrats to those Georgia cities for being noticed, if in a bad way.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Huh? Fluid-Crystallized Intelligence

As I scoured academe for stuff to blog about, I came across this study. Here's the abstract. Bold face emphases are mine.
Using the theory of fluid-crystallized intelligence, we argue that with growing age, political discussion becomes less important as a complement to news exposure in political knowledge building. We applied moderated mediation analyses to the survey data of N = 69,125 German respondents. The data supported the hypothesis that news exposure influences political discussion, which in turn leverages political knowledge. As expected, we showed that news exposure is more strongly associated with political discussion for younger age groups. The results are discussed with regard to how to integrate a psychological lifespan perspective into further research on knowledge acquisition.
Theory of fluid-crystallized intelligence? Wow. I used to think of myself as moderately well read in the political knowledge literature, but this one kinda frightens me. Sadly, I don't have access to the full manuscript, just the abstract, even with my office computer and IP#. Essentially this seems to be saying age matters. The older you get, the less important talking to people matters in political knowledge. It's based on a huge survey of 69,125 Germans. I wish I had access to the full study so I could peek at it further, but it may be some form of the Eurobarometer, but that seems less likely now that I think of it, as it's a survey of all of western Europe, not just Germany.

I did dig something up on this theory. Here's an older piece that says as you get older, you get less intelligent. Has to do with the plasticity of the brain, best I can tell.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

State x State

US News & World Report has out this week its rankings of the states. The Best States, it says, based on several categories. What categories? Health care, education, crime, infrastructure, opportunity, economy, and government. How those are measured, you have to dip into the methodology, but for the moment let's accept the measures as reasonable.

Here's what's weird unless you read the fine print. Not every category carried the same impact.
Health care and education were weighted most heavily. Then came the opportunity states offer their citizens, their crime & corrections and infrastructure. State economies followed closely in weighting, followed by measures of government administration.
And now, some partisan politics.

Four of the five overall top-ranked states went for Clinton. "Yeah," you say, but what about all those categories? How'd Trump do there, or Clinton?" The answer, Clinton dominates nearly every category in the top states, the exception being the one on the health of state government, where Trump captured four of the top five states. That's interesting in and of itself, suggesting Trump did best in states that are well run even if they have other, clearly significant problems.

Top Five Rankings By Category and Who Won Each State


Okay, fascinating in a certain kind of way, but an argument can be made that Trump's upset victory may have come from the states at the bottom of the list. This is indeed the case. On health care, for example Trump won the 13th worst states in that category (Arkansas being #50). Trump won three of the five worst on education, three of the worst five in crime, four of the worst five in infrastructure, four of the worst five on opportunity, four of the worst five on economy, but only two of the last five in lousy state government.

In overall rank, Trump did well on the state's scoring the lowest. Four of the worst five went for Trump, and nine of the worst 10. The states that appeared to have made all the difference on Election Day in going for trump, none of them make the Top 10 and most are far down in the pack, like Pennsylvania (30th), Michgan (33rd), Ohio (35th), North Carolina (25th) and Wisconsin (16th).

So what's it all mean? Clinton did well in states doing well, at least comparatively speaking. The average overall rank for states voting for Clinton was 16.8, while the average overall ranking for states voting for Trump was 31.3. That alone says a great deal. Trump did well in, to put it bluntly, crappier states, or at least states in which people had fewer opportunities and more struggles.

On a whim, I ran a logistic regression analysis on the data. In other words, I wondered which of the various "best state" factors mattered most in predicting that state going for Trump or Clinton.
If you're a statistical nerd and want more info, email me, otherwise I'm going to gloss over the PhDweeb stuff and get to the results.

Keep in mind the rankings on the various categories are statistically controlling for one another, kind of a pit fight to see which ones truly matter. So which do? No surprise, Health Care wins (Wald = 7.4, p<.01), and the Health of Government also achieves statistical significance (Wald = 4.0, p<.05). The lower the rank in health care, the more likely a state was to vote for Trump. The better the government's healthy ranking, the more likely that state went for Trump. None of the other factors matter when put in competition with one another. Using these macro data, states went for Trump if the residents had lousy health opportunities but their government was reasonably well ran. If I were more of a political scientist, I could dig more, but for the moment we'll have to settle for an overlong blog post.

Data available upon request

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Playing Cards

So I spend a little time playing with these data, in which people were asked to name their favorite playing card. You know, cards, as in (the most popular, it turns out) Ace of Spades. What does this have to do with what people know? About the media, or politics? Not a damn thing. It's my blog, dammit. I can write about what I want to write about, so strap in and go for a playing card ride because there's some interesting stuff here.

The first question is obvious -- what card to people name most often? As I mentioned above, and to no real surprise, it's the Ace of Spades. I excluded from analysis all the "no answer" responses because, face it, they're boring people.  Below is the Top 5 with the percent of all responders who chose that particular card:

  1. Ace of Spades (20.1%)
  2. Queen of Hearts (11.3%)
  3. Ace of Hearts (8.3%)
  4. King of Hearts (4.9%)
  5. Jack of Spades (3.1%)
So people trend toward the aces and face cards. No surprise. In fact you have to go all the way to #6 to see a different card, the 3 of Diamonds, which for life of me I can't figure out why anyone would name, but 2.6 percent of respondents chose it first. It's fascinating (okay, to me) that after the Ace of Spades people are all over the Hearts cards. 

I promised you something interesting, so here it is. There's a gender difference. Yes, the Ace of Spades is the one most named by both male and female respondents, but the #2 slot gets interesting. For men, 15.0 percent of the time it was the Queen of Hearts. For women, the #2 slot is more spread out but winning by a hair is the King of Hearts (6.6 percent), followed by a tie between the Queen of Hearts and Age of Hearts (6.6 percent). What can we make of this? Men gravitate to the Queen of Hearts, women to the King of Hearts. I'm sure with some effort I can deliver a Freudian interpretation of the results, but I'll let you figure it out.  Men do name more power cards in their Top 10 while women slip the 3 of Diamonds into their fifth highest position. Fascinating. What's up with that card? Anyone?

By the way, the least named cards were a tie between 9 of Spades and 9 of Clubs (only a couple of people for each, or 1.8 percent).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pet Statistical Peeve

Just a brief bitching about a line I just read in a published study, about a difference being "nominally statistically significant."

Sorry, a difference or relationship is either significant or it's not. There's is no in-between. That's like saying: "I'm nominally pregnant." You are, or aren't.

Even better, the difference they're promoting? .40 compared to .42. Really? Sheesh. Not only is it not statistically significant, more importantly it's not substantively different.