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Aaaaah! Such nostalgia. "My" first ever post on WCI! 5 years ago! (Actually, it was Stephen's post, of course).

Yup, 28 November is your and Stephen's fifth anniversary...

A suggestion for you to save a step (writing to pdf and copying from there) on your presentations by, in effect, pasting a screenshot straight from Excel/Word: Copy (from Excel/Word) > Paste Special (in .ppt) > Picture (jpg or other - some picture file types work better than others, so play around and find one that you like).

Chris - excellent idea. On my mac I use command-shift-4 (to copy part of the screen and save it as a file to the desktop) and command-shift-3 (to capture the whole screen). This site has some handy tips on how to take screen shots: http://guides.macrumors.com/Taking_Screenshots_in_Mac_OS_X.

I might add: Don't waste time explaining what you will go over. "first I'll discuss the motivation for the paper, then I'll look at..." In a paper, this is useful, because the reader can skip ahead if she wants, but in a presentation it's pointless since the audience is going to sit through the whole thing anyway.

Ignacious, I agree, especially for a 20 minute presentation.

I have to say, though, I really like the feature in Beamer that shows the total number of slides, so you know you're on slide 30 of 45, say. It makes talks go much more quickly. I generally put slide numbers on my lecture notes because students like it, but haven't figured out a way to show the total number of slides. So I've worked out how to insert slide #2, but not slide #2 of 10.

I might add: Don't waste time explaining what you will go over. "first I'll discuss the motivation for the paper, then I'll look at..."

Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!

Frances, having the total number of slides displayed when teaching is not a good idea. Whenever I've done this, I notice that on exactly the 3rd last slide, students start getting extremely fidgety, unzipping their bags, etc.

So add three blank slides at the end!

Excellent points. I think I'll steal some them.

I give presentations myself, and I've amassed many pointers. Here's a selection.

o Tell a story. Everyone likes a good story.
o Make the presentation idiotically simple to follow. People will not understand as much as you think they will.
o All listeners should learn something, no matter what their level of expertise.
o State the conclusions repeatedly and clearly.
o The most respected presenters are not those who bewilder their audience, but who make complicated issues clear.
o Speak loudly and slowly, as if the PA system doesn't work too well.
o Show some life. Don't bore the audience.
o Don't have onions, watermelon, fizzy drinks, caffeine, or alcohol beforehand.
o Use a lazer pointer with restraint. You're not a Jedi warrior.
o Don't imagine the audience naked. That adding nausea to nervousness.
o Value of a presentation = Content X Clarity.
o Why do many brilliant, cutting-edge researchers become hidebound incompetents when it comes to presenting their results in a clear, imaginative, and interesting way?

When I prepare presentations for anything, I start off with the information I think I need to present...and get rid of half of it.

It generally turns out okay.

Off topic. Frances: "Once controls for immigrant status, home language, visible minority and aboriginal status are added, the income premium enjoyed by members of the United Church falls from $4634.2 to $1902.7 - and we cannot ignore the possibility that there are other unmeasured demographic differences which also explain some of the remaining income differential."

I wonder. Suppose, just suppose, that every time you added a new control, the remaining premium fell by (say) half. In that case, I would be tempted to extrapolate out and say that there is no real difference, and any remaining difference is because we haven't got all the possible controls in the data set. If, instead, adding each new control got rid of a smaller and smaller percentage of the remaining difference, or even sometimes made the remaining difference bigger, I would be tempted to extrapolate out and say that there is some real remaining difference due to religion.

But I can't think of any really logical reason justifying my extrapolating out like that. And it might all depend on the arbitrary order in which I added new controls.

Is this a question econometricians think about? Have they gotten any further than me in answering it?

(I don't really need to know, I'm just curious.)

Nick: "If, instead, adding each new control got rid of a smaller and smaller percentage of the remaining difference, or even sometimes made the remaining difference bigger, I would be tempted to extrapolate out and say that there is some real remaining difference due to religion."

As you say, the amount of the premium that disappears when more controls are included depends upon the order in which one adds controls - and people are strategic about that, adding controls in the order that makes for a good story.

Micro data is just so different from macro data. There are literally hundreds of different variables in the 2009 GSS. If I kept on going and added in say "have you ever experienced discrimination because of your ethnicity/religion/etc" I could reduce the income premium further. I could also change the size of the income premium substantially by defining my sample differently - e.g. by looking only at people who are employed full-time, and by looking at men and women separately. Or by looking at log income rather than income.

Econometric theory is framed relative to an ideal universe where all explanatory variables are exogenous and orthogonal to each other, and the economist knows which variables are sensible to include, and which variables are not sensible to include. The real world isn't like that. E.g. usually it's a good idea to include dummy variables to control for differences between the provinces, since there are all sorts of differences in the economy/history/geography/demography of the various provinces which mean that economic outcomes differ across provinces. But if you were trying to estimate the impact of language on earnings, including provincial dummy variables might be a problem, because the "Quebec" dummy would soak up the "francophone" effect. On the other hand, perhaps the truth is that francophones earn what they do because they mostly live in Quebec, rather than because they're francophone.

I've never seen your question answered.

But as a practical matter, the reasoning you've described is pretty much what I told my students to use. E.g. however the regression was specified, members of para-religious organizations, and people with unknown religion, had a big income penalty. I'm pretty sure that's real. But members of "other Protestant" had an income premium that jumped around. Put that together with the fact that "other Protestant" is a heterogeneous group, including everyone from high Anglicans to evangelical Christians, and you start figuring - perhaps I don't really know what's going on for that group. And given that a Trinity College educated high Anglican is likely to earn more than a member of [insert Protestant group with low average education levels here], that kind of makes sense.

Frances: thanks. I expect my question doesn't really have an answer. But it's good to hear applied microeconometricians think about the question.

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