The less you know | War of Ideas

This seems to mirror my experience:

The less you know | War of Ideas.

People who hold extreme views on complex policy issues tend not to have thought all that hard about the ramifications of those policies. That’s the argument behind a recent paper published in Psychological Science by Philip Fernbach of the London School of Business, Todd Rogers of Harvard’s Kennedy School, Craig Fox of UCLA, and Steven Sloman of Brown.

Noted: AidData has updates

Update: AidData has a rejoinder to Brautigam. Available here and worth the read:

An email I received yesterday has the following highlights:

Updated AidData Database: AidData

New China Aid Database:

However, Deborah Brautigam has some very, very important critiques of this database: “Rubbery Numbers on Chinese Aid”. For instance, she comments one of AidData’s papers based on their new data:

Table 2 in the paper provides a good example of the problems. It contains 20 Chinese “megadeals” totaling over US$38 billion. But only 6 of these 20 projects — less than a third — reflect actual deals (Ghana $3 bn CDB credit; Equatorial Guinea $2 bn credit; Angola Phase 1 $1.5 bn, CDB loan to Angola for agriculture $1.2 bn; Cameroon Memve’ele Dam $674 million; Nigeria light rail $673 million). That’s around $9 billion.

That said, I appreciate what AidData is trying to do here. Hopefully, they clean some of this up. My own sense is that each iteration of their general database gets better.

Here is their email:

Dear Colleague:

My name is Brad Parks. I am the Co-Executive Director of AidData, a research and innovation lab that tracks more than $5.5 trillion dollars from 90 donor agencies, creates decision support tools for development finance institutions, undertakes cutting-edge research on aid distribution and impact, and oversees efforts to geocode and crowdsource aid information.

Given some of your previous work, I thought you might be interested in a new dataset that AidData will soon release. At 4PM Eastern Standard Time on April 29th, at an event hosted by the Center for Global Development (CGD), AidData will release a dataset that tracks the known universe of Chinese official development finance flows to Africa from 2000 to 2011. The dataset relies on an innovative media-based data collection (MBDC) methodology, which has helped uncover nearly 1,700 Chinese-backed projects amounting to over $75 billion in official commitments. Our hope is that that publication of the data will provide a stronger empirical foundation for analyzing the nature, distribution, and impact of China’s overseas development finance activities in Africa. Along with the methodology and the dataset, several AidData and CGD staff and faculty affiliates are releasing a CGD Working Paper entitled China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection.

Additionally, in the next 24 hours, we will launch a live, interactive database platform at that is accessible to journalists, researchers, policymakers, development practitioners, and the general public. The online interface not only makes it possible to filter, manipulate, and visualize the data, but also provides tools that enable users to vet and help improve the data. To enhance the accuracy of project-level data, the platform allows users to provide additional information about specific projects, such as media reports, documents, videos, and photographs, as well as suggest new projects not previously identified.

Please feel free to spread the word to colleagues who might be interested in this work. Also, if you would like to do something interesting with the data and blog your findings on The First Tranche (, let me know. We’d like to get as many people as possible to use — and potentially help us improve — the data.

Finally, if you are in the DC area on Monday afternoon and you are interested in attending the event at CGD, please register here.  It starts at 4PM. I hope to see you there.


Brad Parks
Executive Director, AidData
The College of William and Mary;

Today (Thurs): Talk on International Refugee Law-Iran: Emrah Yildiz

~~~~ “Alignments of International Refugee Law, Political
Liberalism and Sexuality on the Road: Iranian Asylum Seekers through the
United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Turkey” a lecture by
Emrah Yildiz Thursday, April 18th, 4:15-6pm Fisk 116 Emrah YILDIZ is a
Joint Ph.D. Candidate in Social Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies at
Harvard University. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology and German Studies and
an MA in Cultural Anthropology from Wesleyan University. Following field
research on immigrant and diasporic youth cultures and cultural industries
in Berlin as a DAAD Research Fellow at the Institute for European
Ethnology during the 2005-2006 academic year, Emrah returned to Wesleyan
to write his MA thesis titled “Post-migrant Sounds: Hip-Hop and
Creative Industries of Otherhood in WorldCity Berlin.” His current
research interests include historiography and ethnography of borderlands,
anthropology of Islam and pilgrimage, political economy and contraband
commerce as well as studies of gender and sexuality in the Middle East His
ongoing dissertation research is supported by the Center for Middle
Eastern Studies, Harvard University; Wenner-Gren Foundation for
Anthropological Research, and Die Zeit Stiftung Bucerius Fellowship in
Migration Studies. For more information, contact: J. Kehaulani Kauanui

Ben Van Heuvelen, talk today: Oil, war, and the future of Iraq

You are invited to a talk



“Oil, war, and the future of Iraq”


Ben Van Heuvelen


Wednesday April 17, 2013


12.00-1.00    PAC 001

Ben Van Heuvelen is the managing editor of the Iraq Oil Report. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and Salon. He writes about Iraq, oil, and the geopolitics of energy; American foreign policy, politics and culture; and religion. He was formerly a research fellow at the New America Foundation.

Talk today: Lehoucq on Civil War in Central America

Invites you to a Public Lecture


“The Causes and Consequences of Civil War in Central America“

Fabrice LehoucqAssociate Professor of Political Science,
University of North Carolina, Greensboro


Thursday, April 11, 2013

4:15 p.m.     PAC 002



Professor Fabrice Lehoucq will speak today, Thursday, April 11, 2013, on “Causes and Consequences of Civil War in Central America.” The talk is at 4:15 PM in Public Affairs Center 002. It is co-sponsored by the Government Department and the Latin American Studies Program.

Dr. Fabrice Lehoucq, associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, holds a PhD from Duke University. From 2001 to 2007 he taught at CIDE (Center for Research and Teaching in Economics) in Mexico City. In 2000-2001 he taught at Wesleyan. He is currently a visiting fellow at Kellogg Institute of International Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Professor Lehoucq is the author of The Politics of Modern Central America: Civil War, Democratization, and Underdevelopment (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and Stuffing the Ballot Box: Fraud, Reform, and Democratization in Costa Rica  (with Ivan Molnar)  (Cambridge University Press, 2002). He has been a consultant for the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, the Carter Center, the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the World Bank.


Co-sponsored by Government and Latin American Studies Program

Scheduling with Students:

Update via Jack Dougherty:

Updated on February 26, 2015: The friendly folks at YouCanBook.Me tell me that the “On Duty” feature (which displays my office hours, as described below) now requires a paid premium-level subscription OR a free non-profit account. Users who log in with an .edu email address automatically qualify for a free non-profit account, or you can request one by visiting their Non-Profit help page. Also, for more up-to–date instructions, see also YouCanBook.Me’s own tutorial on using the “On Duty” (aka “office hours”) feature.


I have used a number of different websites over the years to streamline appointment scheduling with students. Unfortunately, whenever I find something that seems to work ( or “Google Appointments”) they end up going out of business.

So, my current implementation involves yet another niche website that I hope will last a bit longer. It also involves a set of instructions which, though lengthy, provide for a very effective synchronization with my Google Calendar.

Here is the service:

Here are the instructions:

And here is my current implementation (this is active so don’t set-up an appointment with me unless you need to!):