Several months ago, I put together this syllabus for use in a future seminar course Law as a Complex System. A number of my friends and colleagues noted that if were to actually use this syllabus in a course, it would be necessary to reduce the total reading in contained herein. While I completely agree, I still thought I would post it to the blog in its current form. I am proud to say that I am an award winning instructor. Notwithstanding, I am always interested in improving my pedagogical skills. Thus, if you see any law related scholarship you believe should be included please feel free to email me.
Highlighting underlying data Derek Stafford and I collected for our article Hustle and Flow: A Social Network Analysis of the American Federal Judiciary — here is some additional information on the law clerk tournament. In the original post, we highlighted both Circuit and District Court Clerkship Placements for the 1995-2005 period.
Using only the Circuit Court data, we thought it might be interesting to consider how those placements are distributed across the various circuits. At first glance, observe the regional or home turf bias contained in the placements (Penn 3rd Circuit ; Vanderbilt 6th Circuit). Furthermore, consider institutions whose placements are highly concentrated (Berkeley 9th Circuit) versus institutions with more diffuse placements (Michigan, Chicago).
Datavisualization.ch/ recently highlighted this interactive “Bailout Breakdown” offered by the Associated Press….. “Bailout Breakdown from Associated Press is an interactive applet that lets the user analyze the recipients and amounts of the $700 Billion bailout plan from the American government. The data is presented as a scatterplot with additional information about the representations when the hovers over a plotted item. The markers are color coded to distinguish between pending, pre-approved, approved and paid status.” At the end of his post, Benjamin Wiederkehr offers some principled critiques of the visualization techniques employed by the authors. Notwithstanding, we still thought it was still worthy of highlighting.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office patent classification scheme organizes 3 million patents into about 160,000 distinct patent classes. This visualization by Katy Börner, Elisha Hardy, Bruce W. Herr II, Todd M. Holloway, & W. Bradford Paley considers the organizational schema used to classify patents at the US Patent Office. Their article Taxonomy Visualization in Support of the Semi-Automatic Validation and Optimization of Organizational Schemas was published in the Journal of Informetrics in 2007.
From the Abstract: “The taxonomy visualization and validation (TV) tool introduced in this paper supports the semi-automatic validation and optimization of organizational schemas such as file directories, classification hierarchies, taxonomies, or other structures imposed on a data set for organization, access, and naming. By showing the “goodness of fit” for a schema and the potentially millions of entities it organizes, the TV tool eases the identification and reclassification of misclassified information entities, the identification of classes that grow too large, the evaluation of the size and homogeneity of existing classes, the examination of the “well-formedness” of an organizational schema, and more.”
We are working hard to produce more original content for the site. In the meantime, we want to share some of our favorite projects and papers. Many of you have probably seen this visualization of housing prices–including the run up to 2007. For those of you not previously familiar, the authors plotted inflation adjusted US Home Prices (1890-2006) on a roller coaster! Pretty creative stuff….
It is difficult to traverse the broad disciplinary landscape. We feel so fortunate to work with a community here at Michigan which is committed to resisting those who seek to restrict intellectual innovation–individuals we characterize as the disciplinary police. Since starting this blog, we have received several emails from legal, social and physical science scholars interested in intellectual exploration, intellectual diversity. We appreciate their encouragement and will proudly continue to privilege “exploration over exploitation.”
In that vein, we wanted to offer some of our favorite recent papers drawn from a wide variety disciplines….
FIVE PAPERS FROM VARIOUS DISCIPLINES WE WANT TO HIGHLIGHT:
Gergely Palla, Albert-László Barabási & Tamás Vicsek, Quantifying Social Group Evolution, Nature 446: 664-667 (5 April 2007)
John Mikhail, Universal Moral Grammar: Theory, Evidence, and the Future, 11 Trends in Cognitive Sciences 143 (2007)
Jenna Bednar & Scott Page, Can Game(s) Theory Explain Culture? (The Emergence of Cultural Behavior Within Multiple Games), Rationality and Society, 19: 65-97 (2007).
Riley Crane & Didier Sornette (2008) Robust Dynamic Classes Revealed by Measuring the Response Function of a Social System, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 105: 15649-15653.
Frans de Waal, Kristen Leimgruber & Amanda Greenberg (2008). Giving is Self-Rewarding for Monkeys. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 105: 13685-13689.
Justice Souter’s recently announced retirement has generated significant speculation regarding the potential nominee President Obama might select.
Barring some unknown skeleton in her closet, if President Obama seeks to (1) select a Federal Court of Appeals Judge and (2) increase the diversity of the Court on multiple dimensions …. well … Judge Sotomayor would have to be the frontrunner.
The picture and graph statistics pictured above are drawn from our paper Hustle and Flow: A Social Network Analysis of the American Federal Judiciary. In the paper, we offer a mapping of the social topology of the American Federal Judiciary. Built upon data aggregated over the Natural Rehnquist Court (1995-2004), we find Judge Sotomayor holds a position of significant social prominence.
To read more on operationalization, etc.—click on the slide above or click here.
A number of commentators have suggested President Obama might forgo nominating a sitting judge — instead choosing an academic or politician. This is certainly a possibility and in that vein let me reveal my bias in favor of Gov. Jennifer Granholm (for whom I formerly worked).
Following up from the very interesting recent Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law Conference (SEAL 10) at Vanderbilt Law School, I wanted to briefly highlight some compelling scholarship offered Greg Jones & Sarah Brosnan. In their paper, Social Contracts on Social Networks: Local Patterns of Interaction, Local Strategy Dynamics and the Emergence of Reciprocity they explore cooperative, prosocial behavior in chimpanzees. The paper is both empirical and computational in nature.
I recognize that primatology represents a novel domain for many social scientists and legal scholars. In the March (1991) framework, we here at the CLS Blog believe exploration of a wide number of intellectual domains should be privileged over the mere exploitation of current approaches. For those interesting in such exploration, please consider downloading and reading this article.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg is reporting that Justice Souter is planning to retire at the end of the current Supreme Court Term. As noted in the NPR report, the short list of replacements may include Elena Kagan, Diane Wood and/or Sonia Sotomayor (who is in the network above near Justice Stevens). If President Obama decides to look beyond this early short list, he might consider one of the socially prominent federal jurist mapped in above visualization. We have a much more detailed prior post on the underlying paper Hustle and Flow: A Social Network Analysis of the American Federal Judiciary located here. To see the full visualization contained within the paper, click on the slide above or click here.
In my conversations with judicial politics scholars, many lament how many of our existing approaches tend to ignore opinion content. For those interested in embedding opinion content into existing theories of judicial decision making … consider Yonatan Lupu & James Fowler’s paper recently posted to the SSRN.
The authors present a strategic model of judicial bargaining over opinion content. They note … “we find that the Court generates opinions that are better grounded in law when more justices write concurring opinions.” To generate the specification for “grounding in law” the authors use Kleinberg’s Hubs and Authorities Algorithm calculated at the time the opinion was authored. The Strategic Content Paper is available here.
Last week we offered a model of intellectual diffusion built upon a standard fare social epidemiology model. Given recent events within the United States, Mexico and potentially worldwide, we thought it would be worthwhile to highlight the classic S.I.R. (Susceptible, Infected, Recovered) model. Netlogo offers a user friendly version of the model. Using this platform, we hope the exploration of the dynamics of S.I.R. might prove illuminating.
First, various hosts have different levels of interactions (work, home, transit, etc.) and so this network approach represents a blunt measure. To start the model at the default parameters, push the SETUP Button and then the GO Button. As the model runs, the plot tracks the Susceptible, Infected, Recovered. The model contains a variety of “sliders.” The model can be rerun at lots of combinations of parameter levels. Those “sliders” fall into several categories: Network Attributes, Virus Attributes, Node Attributes. The full documentation is available here.
With respect to the swine flu, one important parameter is the delay between when an individual becomes infectious and when that individual is likely to become symptomatic. This parameter can be tuned in the simulation above using VIRUS-CHECK-FREQUENCY slider. From the documentation… “Infected nodes are not immediately aware that they are infected. Only every so often (determined by the VIRUS-CHECK-FREQUENCY slider) do the nodes check whether they are infected by a virus.”
An additional parameter worthy of consideration is the VIRUS-SPREAD-CHANCE. Consider this slider as a rough measure of the underlying infectiousness of the virus in question.
It is important to note the above simulation is an incredible simplification of the world faced by public health officials. Additionally, this version of the model was designed to consider the spread of disease on a computer network. Notwithstanding these limitations, we thought it useful to highlight a computational approach to this important matter of public concern.
Having finished a week discussing our paper Reproduction of Hierarchy? A Social Network Analysis of the American Law Professoriate, I wanted to take a moment to congratulate my colleagues on the SSRN download success of the paper! I hope lots of folks read the paper and it spurs a computational and complexity revolution in legal science.
This is the final installment of posts related to Reproduction of Hierarchy? A Social Network Analysis of the American Law Professoriate. Thanks for your emails.
Here is the plot we provide within the paper. As a general proposition, we believe this represents an upper bound measure for the intellectual reach of an agenda offered by a given institution. With respect to our version of the Reed Frost Epidemiological Model, we use the p parameter to model “idea infectiousness.” When p = 1 every institution “contacted” by the idea is infected with the idea. When p = 0 no institution “contacted” by the idea is infected. In this version, we use the programming language python to run the model 500 times per institution. The above plot represents an estimate of the “diffusion curve” for each of the 184 institutions in our model. Building off central limit type properties, this leaves a far better estimate of reach than is offered in the single model run from the previous Netlogo GUI.
A cursory review of the above plot demonstrates, we are far from the land of linearity. Namely, a large number of institutions are able to reach much of the graph with very small changes in the value of p.
In the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn quotes from Max Planck: “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Following Planck, we believe retirement is indeed be an important mechanism. However, we also argue the nature of the p parameter is a relevant consideration. In fact, unpacking various dimensions of p is the key to the broader model. Specifically, what are the properties of an idea that generate its infectiousness? Of course, we might like to believe infectiousness is related to a class of normatively attractive properties such as promoting efficiency or justice. However, it is not clear that this follows.
We took no pass on the question of whether some institutions would be better or worse at producing ideas with greater or lesser values of p. The motivated question for this post considers whether, in general, the institutions which are top producers of law professors are (1) leaders in innovation, (2) subsequent ratifiers of a newly established paradigm or (3) defenders of the status quo. In a deep sense, we are asking how to reasonably model decision making by the heterogeneous agents located at such institutions. Do institutions reward or punish intellectual risk-taking, search, etc.?
While this is an empirical question beyond the scope of this post, it worth asking because it partially informs the micro-dynamics plausibly responsible for generating the spread of new intellectual paradigms.