Political Science Is Getting A Lot More Interesting

by John Sides on November 21, 2008 · 3 comments

in Political science

How do I know? Because the number of counterintuitive findings is just skyrocketing! How do I know that? Because mentions of the phrase “counterintuitive finding” in political science journals have increased sharply.


The 1950s and 1960s were pretty boring. Lots of intuitive findings, it seems. But then, wow! There were 213 counterintuitive findings in the 1990s alone. And there are already 281 since 2000, and we’re not even out of the decade yet. Nor does this count include all the journal volumes from this decade that are not yet archived at JSTOR.

No doubt my intuition will become even more wrong in the years ahead.

[Hat tip to Lee Drutman for the idea, and Chris Deering for research assistance.]

[ADDENDUM: See a revised version of this graph and further discussion here.]


C. Zorn November 21, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Wow, what a counterintuitive finding… I’d have thought just the opposite.


(No, not really…).

John November 21, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Maybe the increase in the appearance of the phrase “counterintuitive findings” in articles is actually evidence that findings are becoming more and more predictable which requires authors to both point out and explain what, exactly, is counterintuitive.

alfanje November 22, 2008 at 1:23 pm

I think it is the linguistics that are getting really hot. Come on, that’s just an idiom, a catch phrase or whatever…

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: