15 June 2006

things that i have been thinking recently

1. recently read.

cloud atlas is a really good book. also really good if waaaay more disturbing: the rules of attraction. slightly less recently but still worth mentioning anyway: the plot against america; the nanny diaries; into thin air; the hours. in a more general way: graduate students should read more novels.

2. the impostor phenomenon

"an internal experience of intellectual phoniness among high-achievers." there's precious little real data here -- it was described first in a nonrandom sample of academic women who had sought psychotherapy for other reasons -- but there is at least one reliable and valid instrument for "diagnosis," and a hell of a lot of hey-that-sounds-like-me among successful folks, especially successful women.

but oh! horror! i have been describing my knowledge of the phenomenon with outdated data! according to everything i could dredge up, the jury is still out on whether this is a "women's" phenomenon (in some domains men report impostor feelings at least as frequently as women do). indeed, it remains to be seen whether this "phenomenon" is actually just another name for low self-esteem. more college women than college men report impostor feelings, but more tenured men than tenured women. the impostor scales are highly (negatively) correlated with self-esteem scales, but less highly correlated than many other separable concepts.

my question from these data: does the tenure ladder, from grad school onwards, weed out impostor women more efficiently than impostor men? and why?

3. prospect theory and student loans.

laurel reports that she used the content of this article in the process of kicking the GRE's ass the other day (woo hoo!), but that is not the only reason to read it. in particular, note how economists' old habits die hard: despite being thoroughly outgunned by the evidence, one recalcitrant rationalist notes that "If you graduated from college, and you could be a social worker or an investment banker, the fact that you have $20,000 in student debt is hardly a deciding factor...It would be irrational to make a lifetime decision based on that." maybe irrational, yeah, but...when was the last time you had to repay loans on twenty grand a year, fundamentalist economist lady? it sucks to give up a million bucks in earnings over a lifetime, but it sucks more not to make rent. (note that i realize that this is not an illustration of the insight of prospect theory so much as yet another instance in which "rationality" is a privilege of the relatively well-off.)

4. vocation, schmocation.

i'm pretty sure i'll be going to california in january, assuming all kinks iron themselves out. pretty sure. not totally sure. in fact still kind of ambivalent. on the other hand, if i waited until i was totally sure to make all major decisions, i'd never make any decisions at all. all i know at this point is must. avoid. job market rumor mill. at! all! costs!

this last because (1) the job market sucks, so it's tempting to make substantive decisions based on disciplinary faddishness but (2) you gotta go where your interest lies and (3) markets, even dysfunctional academic job markets, change; hence the "good subfield" this year will probably not be the "good subfield" in 2009 or 2010.

5. i like the gym in the summer: nobody there.

6. mmmm....

i am pretty sure that my favorite part of accidentally moving to wooster square for the summer will be the farmer's market that takes place about two blocks from my house every saturday morning. as i've probably mentioned here before, one of the most frustrating things about moving from philly to new haven has been the lack of good local produce. or at least, the lack of good local produce that can be accessed without a car. anyway, i am totally psyched to evade the pallid, tasteless crap at stop'n'shop for the rest of the season.