As I, fingers crossed, wind down my graduate work in economics, I am looking for new hobbies. I was thinking about getting back into baseball. I loved baseball when I was a kid and now, thanks to Moneyball and Baseball Prospectus, there is a “scientific” sub-culture where I would fit nicely. Plus, I’d finally have a reason to get cable.
Or maybe the stock market. Lots of easily accessible data. Check. Interesting theory. Check. Lots of amateurish dabbling. Double check. The only problem is I can’t get excited about trading stocks. The data crunching has moved analysis so far away from the fundamentals that unless you think winning at zero-sum games is fun it’s hard to maintain excitement about it. I’ll probably dabble.
Then there’s social psychology. There’s some data and amateurs abound. Methodologically, the field is familiar to economists but they have done what economists are only starting to do; they’ve dropped the assumption of context independent behavior. The field is young enough that it still has a multi-disciplinary feel and every new finding seems revolutionary. Will Wilkinson is teaching an introductory course in it at his new blog (partial syllabus here). I’ve signed up.