A CAUTIONARY NOTE ON ECONOMETRICS: This Daniel Davies post on econometrics is very worth a read (with thanks to Henry Farrell for the link, as well as the caveat that the permalink is not working, YMMV). In particular, I have just finished reading some senior honors theses, and have tried to impress upon my students how important it is to understand and think through what your canned software is doing to ensure that it’s doing what you think you are telling it to.
I’m sufficiently curmudgeonly to be pleased that my econometrics professor in college made us all do our first regression by hand, before we were ever allowed to touch a computer. Much as I cursed him at the time, I remain convinced that doing it by hand gave me experience in thinking about what a regression does, and what it does not do, that doesn’t stick in the brain if you’re told it. Yet another application of the old Confucius saying:
I see and I forget
I hear and I remember
I do and I understand