Friday, June 5, 2015

Studying Politics or Playing Politics? Scholarly Experiments Sometimes Blur the Line

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 5th, 2015


Before it fell apart, Michael J. LaCour’s study of political canvassing tactics was timely not just for what he supposedly discovered, but for how he discovered it.
In order to figure out whether gay-marriage advocates could actually change people’s minds about the issue by having brief conversations on their doorsteps, Mr. LaCour, a University of California at Los Angeles graduate student, designed an experiment.
Gay and straight canvassers would knock on doors and follow scripts. There would be before-and-after surveys, randomized assignments, controls, and other accouterments of rigorous experimental trials.

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