February 16, 2008

More on the Mysteries of Social Science

Check out this NYT Mag article on Patrick Ball, "who has spent nearly two decades fashioning a career for himself at the intersection of mathematics and murder. You could call him a forensic humanitarian."

Charlie hasn't seen Patrick in years, but he's done amazing work on behalf of several truth and reconciliation commissions. Using ecological inference and other statistical tools he creates creates estimates of the number of killings we don't see, based on those we do. This generates a richer picture of the political violence associated with civil wars, insurgencies, and state terror than just tallying reported murders and massacres. Wicked cool application of basic social science techniques to seriously important policy questions.