Sign in

Professor, Data & Statistical Consultant, West Virginian, Author of The Dynamics of Bureaucracy in the U.S. Government

Hillbilly Elegy and Opioid Epidemic

JD Vance’s family problems are not Appalachian

Glade Creek Grist Mill in Fayette County, WV — Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

With Hillbilly Elegy set to hit the silver screen this week. I couldn’t help but sit down to pen a perspective on my Appalachia, as his is unrecognizable to me. To a generation of people, and sadly even academics who should know better, JD Vance’s depiction of Appalachia has come to dominate popular discussion of the region. This is great for JD and his political prospects. Still, it saddens me that so many intelligent, educated people who disdain outsiders' attempts to define other vulnerable populations buy JD’s definition of Appalachian culture lock, stock, and barrel.

Before I get on with…

Politics and Government

Lessons from Appalachia’s best politician and the Democratic agenda

Source: Senator Joe Manchin’s Press Photos

In the wake of the Senate runoff races in Georgia on January 5th, attention is quickly turning to the legislative branch’s new politics and what it means for public policy. The election saw Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff replace Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively. The election, along with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote in the Senate, gives Democrats unified control of the Congress for the first time since 2014.

Many on the left now worry about the prospects for a progressive agenda. Why? West Virginia’s Senior Senator, Joe Manchin. This story is emblematic.

Granted, Joe Manchin…


What traffic stops tell us about racial bias in policing

Baumgartner, Epp, and Shoub 2018, Figure 3.3.

Written by Frank R. Baumgartner, Leah Christiani, Derek A. Epp, Kelsey Shoub, and Kevin Roach

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the nation and world have turned their attention to large-scale demonstrations emphasizing policing inequities and calling for reforms ranging from banning unnecessary chokeholds to the abolition of the police. The Black Lives Matter movement, like others before it, argues the police target black and brown people in their enforcement of the law.

We have studied policing in the context of traffic stops for years, and our studies have consistently corroborated what activists charge: racial disparities in policing are widespread, even when controlling for possible benefits to public safety. …


Guidelines for contributors

Photo by Esther Wechsler on Unsplash.

What We Cover

3Streams is a publication for anyone interested in the convergence of politics, policy, and ideas. We are particularly interested in elevating the work of scholars, practitioners, and citizens with novel perspectives, who want to reach a broader audience on timely topics. Our publication has, at its core, a commitment to content linking politics and ideas to public policy, public administration, and broader questions of governance.

Stories written for 3Streams may take several forms. These include analytical essays, stories containing data analysis and visualization, stories written from personal experience in the practice of politics, policy, and governance, and…


Why assertions of incompetence are hazardous to public debate

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Allegations of incompetence are dangerous.

The pandemic, economic fragility, and racism beset us from all sides. A natural response is to assert that our leadership at multiple levels is incompetent. Of course, this poses a problem for federal, state, and local leaders, since charges of incompetence undermine trust and legitimacy and chip away at the rule of law. Trust, legitimacy and the rule of law all make democratic governance possible.

Less obviously, assertions of incompetence are dangerous for observers, pundits, and academics. Extremely effective leadership often hides behind the veil of…

Data Collection

Simplify and streamline analysis by doing less to the data

Source: Agricultural Marketing Service Local Food Directory

I’ve spent an academic lifetime compiling original data sets, both in my work and as part of broader research teams. In doing so, I have become quite opinionated about the role of data in science, its collection, and its organization. In this post, I detail four principles of data collection and organization useful to any analyst needing to collect data, whether by hand or machine. Often, students, junior scholars, business analysts, and public managers engage in data collection. Yet, it receives scant attention in most curricula. …

Web Scraping pdfs

Nesting scrapes to avoid button-clicking


The word “confluence” means the juncture or merging of things, usually rivers. I grew up in West Virginia near the confluence of Gauley River (world-class whitewater for you rafters) and Meadow River (a Smallmouth bass fishing haven). The word confluence is also an apt description of how the intellectual currents of my work converge. My work sits at the confluence of statistics, data science, and public policy. Were these rivers, data science would undoubtedly be the smallest. Though it’s fashionable to call oneself a “data scientist” these days, a data scientist I am not. …

Street Maps in R

Source: the author, see below.

I’ve titled this post “The County.” Back home in West Virginia, people often refer to entities of government by their jurisdiction or where they draw authority. We refer to the police as “The Law” and the various functions, whether for public health or taxes, as “The County”. Today, I’m drawing a map of the The County, Fayetteville, WV. Even when going into town to pay your taxes, you’d say “going over to see The County.” This will ring true for folks back home, and probably for other rural areas.

Since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by maps, globes (especially…

Samuel Workman

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store