About Matt Dull

I'm an associate professor with Virginia Tech's Center for Public Administration & Policy at our campus in Alexandria, VA. My research interests include public policy, administration, and American political institutions.

big sky, big money

A genuine “big sky” shout-out to grad school friends Dave Parker and Erika Franklin Fowler, both PROMINENTLY featured in this week’s fascinating PBS Frontline “Big Sky, Big Money” examining “dark money” in Montana politics and in campaigns around the country in the wake of Citizens United (2010). Parker, a coauthor on research looking at congressional investigations, is a dedicated student of American politics. He’s driven countless hundreds of miles this year collecting information on campaign advertisements from local television stations, filling a vital gap in available information about what’s going on in American politics. And he is rewarded with a spot on PBS Frontline,  the coolest show on TV’s nerdiest channel. Not bad!

even more confounded

I can’t shake this finding by Young and Karr (2011) I mentioned in June.

The authors identify 52 interventions published in leading medical journals that compare observed and experimental evidence – in other words, a correlation was observed and then subjected to a randomized experimental design. They find 0 of 52 interventions – again, zero percent – yielded significant results in randomized trials. Zero percent? Five findings were apparently significant in the contrary direction, and not one false positive? Anyway, the article seems like a pretty fundamental indictment of a whole way of doing business, but their prescription is unworkable. Step 1: Cut all data sets in half.The notion that half of all data be placed in a “lock box” and subjected to an elaborate replication process elevates an important principle to the level of absurdity. Continue reading