I would like to thank the readers of ELS for the excellent comments thus far to my previous posts. In this post, I want to raise an issue that I have been thinking about for quite some time. Although not every project or issue can be appropriately analyzed using descriptive or basic inferential statistics, it seems to me that many empirical scholars (both within the legal academy and outside of it) underestimate the value of using basic statistics to explain phenomena or relationships between variables. Instead, empirical scholars often look for the most complex models, which result in papers that are impenetrable for non-quantitative scholars, rather than searching for ways to present the data in a fashion that can be understood by a wider audience.
As someone who sits on dissertation committees in other disciplines on occasion and tries to attend workshops in political science as much as possible, I notice this trend among graduate students as well: in a zest to conform to the norms of their discipline, graduate students will sometimes forget that there can be enormous (and sometimes more!) value to presenting the data using basic statistical techniques. If we, as empirical scholars, want to reach a wider audience for our work, is it worthwhile to simplify the empirical papers that we write when possible? Is reaching a wider audience even a worthwhile goal? Would courts and policymakers pay more attention to our scholarship if they could understand it? Again, I realize that not every project lends itself to simple statistical techniques, but I thought these questions worth asking nonetheless. As always, your comments are most welcome.