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August 2014

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Social Sciences
in the Media

Do we know what we see?
Sperling, The Wall Street Journal

Experts point to US role in migrants' flight
Coutin, National Catholic Reporter

Shame of the GOP on border (Opinion)
Bean, Fox News

American-grown gangs fuel immigration crisis from Central America
Valdez, NBC News

Could kids fleeing Central America be sent back to face more gang violence?
Valdez, The Washington Post

The consequences of shaming politics in East Asia
Le, The Diplomat

Is there a role for NATO in Ukraine?
Hardt, The Washington Post

Cities offer shelter to migrant minors
DeSipio, The Wall Street Journal

It's official: 2014 AHA election results are in
Ruiz, History News Network

Border crisis rocks U.S., Arizona immigration politics
DeSipio, The Arizona Republic

Has Congress gotten so pathetic that even the protesters aren't bothering to show up?
Meyer, The Washington Post

Philosopher uses game theory to understand how words, actions acquire meaning
Huttegger and Skyrms, Science Codex, Science Newsline and Science Daily

David Cay Johnston: State's job growth defies predictions after tax increases
Neumark, The Sacramento Bee

States that raised minimum wage see faster job growth, report says
Neumark, NPR, WVPE 88.1 and KPBS

Want a grant? First review someone else's proposal
Saari, Science

States with better 'Business Climates' also have higher inequality
Neumark, The Atlantic

GOP presents ethnic faces to California voters
DeSipio, The Washington Times

Affordable airline boosts business at Stockton Metropolitan
Brueckner, Sacramento Bee

When Ikea raises its minimum wage, where does the money come from?
Neumark, NPR – The Morning Edition, WVPE 88.1, WNYC and Opb.com

The deported L.A. gangs behind this border kid crisis
Valdez, The Daily Beast

How LA gangs played into border crisis
Valdez, CNN

The most anxiety-provoking Instagram photo is no photo at all
Ito, The Huffington Post

Migrant surge fueling Arizona governor's race
DeSipio, The Arizona Republic

Neumark: A booming economy is the best anti-poverty program
Neumark, Fox Business

UC Irvine's Neumark: Minimum wage hike would "do little" for poor families
Neumark, Money News

O'Reilly says over half of immigrants from 3 Central American countries use welfare
Bitler, PolitiFact

Who really gets the minimum wage?
Neumark, The Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! New Zealand

Behind the Civil Rights Act
Lee, NPR

Sex and drugs
Frank, The Scientist

The Myth Of Mirror Neurons (Book review)
Hickok, Kirkus

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In memoriam: The campus loses UCI Distinguished Research Professor David Easton and 45-year UCI Community member and statistical authority Robert "Bob" Newcomb

EITC doesn't benefit single parent families during recessions, study finds

Results published in June issue of NBER Digest

When the economy tanks, subsidy programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit can become unintended safety-nets for lower income working families trying to make ends meet. A new study by UCI economist Marianne Bitler looks at this program's new role, finding that married couples with children benefit more from the subsidy when times are worse than do single parent households, who otherwise constitute the majority of EITC recipients. Findings are published in the June issue of the National Bureau of Economic Research Digest.

Read on...

American-grown gangs fuel immigration crisis from Central America

Al Valdez, social sciences lecturer, provides perspective

Academic researcher Al Valdez was in El Salvador's capital city two years ago watching bewildered deportees from America step onto the tarmac. The plane was full of undocumented immigrants sent back because of their criminal records, he said, including some gang members. A nun gave each one a banana or an aspirin, and told them they were free to leave. There was no one offering to help rehabilitate them into Salvadoran society. "I was disturbed. They were simply repatriated back into their country," said Valdez, the author of books on Southern California gangs and a former supervisor with the Orange County District Attorney's gang unit. The lack of oversight has allowed gang members to assert control in El Salvador and neighboring countries, where tens of thousands - including unaccompanied children - have made dangerous journeys to the U.S. border in recent months. In addition, Valdez said, the United States' own policy has been an unintended driver of the pile-up on America's doorstep.

Read on, courtesy of NBC News...

Three myths about the brain

Greg Hickok, cognitive sciences professor and Center for Language Science director, debunks some higher level misconceptions about the human brain

Today the neuroscience community uniformly rejects the notion, as it has for decades, that our brain's potential is largely untapped. The myth persists, however. The newly released movie "Lucy," about a woman who acquires superhuman abilities by tapping the full potential of her brain, is only the latest and most prominent expression of this idea. In recent years, a new myth about the brain has started to emerge. This is the myth of mirror neurons, or the idea that a certain class of brain cells discovered in the macaque monkey is the key to understanding the human mind. The mirror neuron claim has escaped the lab and is starting to find its way into popular culture. You might hear it said, for example, that watching a World Cup match is an intense experience because our mirror neurons allow us to experience the game as if we were on the field itself, simulating every kick and pass. But as with older myths, this speculation has lost its connection with the data.

Read on, courtesy of The New York Times...

Is there a role for NATO in Ukraine?

Heidi Hardt, new UCI political science assistant professor, weighs in

In Ukraine, separatists controlling the site of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 have not provided a safe corridor for an international investigation to take place. Despite the return of flight recorder boxes and some bodies, others are still missing and remains continue to decompose. Research shows that in crises speed of response matters. Yet the media has said little about the response of the world's largest security organization whose member states border Ukraine. What options does NATO have to respond to the crisis? With defenses already bolstered in eastern Europe, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has only called for 'a full international investigation'. The 28 -member-state transatlantic security organization represents one of the few international actors with the capabilities and potential political will to act. My recent study based on interviews with 30 NATO ambassadors and staff found that informal learning has improved NATO's crisis response capacity. Other international organizations remain politically blocked. Russia retains veto power at the United Nations and OSCE and is also responsible for a significant supply of natural gas to European Union member states. NATO has new options given the urgency surrounding the Malaysian Airlines tragedy and states' shared commitment to regional security (Article 4). The following reviews the costs and benefits of different possibilities.

Read on, courtesy of The Washington Post...

Philosophers use game theory to understand how words, actions acquire meaning

Research featured in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Why does the word "dog" have meaning? If you say "dog" to a friend, why does your friend understand you? Elliott Wagner, UCI logic & philosophy of science alumnus and new assistant professor of philosophy at Kansas State University, aims to address these types of questions in his latest research, which focuses on long-standing philosophical questions about semantic meaning. "If I order a cappuccino at a coffee shop, I usually don't think about why it is that my language can help me communicate my desire for a cappuccino," Wagner said. "This sort of research allows us to understand a very basic aspect of the world." His latest work appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is rare for philosophy research to appear in the scientific journal, Wagner said. Collaborators include UCI logic & philosophy of science professors Simon Hutteggar and Brian Skyrms and mathematician Pierre Tarres of the University of Toulouse in France.

Read on, courtesy of Science Codex...

The consequences of shaming politics in East Asia

Op-ed by Tom Le, political science grade student, argues that in disputes over history and territory, the PR fight is intense...and damaging

Recently, media outlets have paid a great deal of attention to territorial disputes between Japan and its neighbors, China and South Korea, fueling considerable animosity in East Asia. Simultaneously, another heated battle is being waged, one over historical authority and the hearts and minds of the international community. Specifically, these nations have engaged in emotion-laden public relations campaigns over possession of the islands, the naming of the Sea of Japan/East Sea, and the comfort women issue. The intensified effort to fight the public relations battle is due to the closing window of opportunity for aging victims of World War II to voice their story. Additionally, the alleged rise of Japanese nationalism, epitomized by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent decision to reexamine the Kono Statement, in which the Japanese government admitted its role in coercing women and antagonistic remarks trivializing the issue by conservatives have further invigorated the opposition.

Read on, courtesy of The Diplomat...

In memoriam: David Easton

UCI Distinguished Research Professor of political science, past president of the American Political Science Association and past vice president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

David Easton, UCI Distinguished Research Professor of political science and past president of the American Political Science Association, died Saturday morning, July 19. He was 97. Easton joined the faculty of the School of Social Sciences in 1982. He was one of the first campus appointments as UCI Distinguished Professor. His vigor, both mental and physical, was matched only by his intellectual curiosity. One of the most prominent and cited political scientists during the second half of the twentieth century, Easton was a very highly valued colleague. When he “retired” from UCI in 1987, he continued to teach classes on empirical political theory, political systems analysis, the foundations of modern political science, and structural analysis of politics until he was more than 90 years of age.

Read on...

In memoriam: Robert "Bob" Newcomb

UC Irvine Center for Statistical Consulting founding director, social sciences senior lecturer and 45-year member of the UCI community

Robert "Bob" L. Newcomb, founding director of the UC Irvine Center for Statistical Consulting and 45-year member of the UCI community, passed away on July 10 at the age of 81. Newcomb received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He joined the UC Irvine faculty in 1969 as a lecturer in social sciences, a position he held until his retirement in 2006. During that period, he served as acting associate dean of both undergraduate and graduate studies in social sciences. Throughout his more than four decades of service to UC Irvine, he made an immeasurable impact on students and faculty through his teaching, mentorship and statistical research support.

Read on...

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