The life of an applied researcher

Check out the first deleted scene from The Simpsons Movie. It’s really funny and deftly portrays what it can be like to conduct applied research in the policy arena. The head of the EPA fails to persuade President Schwarzenegger to take action on pollution in Springfield and resorts to giving a lesson on the statistical concepts of central tendency, variance, and outliers. In the end, a “stupidly high level” of pollution proves less persuasive than one mutant specimen. The takeaway: data collection and statistical analysis can strongly suggest a course of action, but applied researchers must also consider what types of information will resonate with their audience if they hope to inspire appropriate action. Presenting tabular information in maps, for example, can give statistics more meaning. Another takeaway: technocracy is funny.

This entry was posted in Praxes. Bookmark the permalink.