My temper tantrum late last night, as I was trying to read STATA guides (a weird use of time, I felt, when I could have been reading interesting articles on gender discrimination), was answered kindly and sensibly by Jeff Yates of Voir Dire:
Belle, stupid monkey commands and feeling frustrated and inept for no good reason are all an integral part of the development of a social science scholar. It’s kind of like the Socratic method in law school - there’s not a lot of solid evidence that it actually makes you a good lawyer and it’s usually pedagogically inefficient and even abused by some profs. But, it establishes the hierarchy and makes you “work for it”. If everyone just gave you the STATA code or taught their law classes in a concise, straightforward manner, then you wouldn’t learn to “think like a social scientist (or lawyer).”
For what it’s worth there are some great books for the beginning STATA user - they’re kind of like the Emanuel’s law outlines of statistics. These can be found in the STATA bookstore, although you might find used copies cheaper on Amazon or elsewhere. I have found Lawrence Hamilton’s series of books very helpful. STATA also runs an email listserve where you can post your questions, but that can mean a lot of emails unless you take steps to get it in batches. I also find the UCLA statistics tutorial to be very helpful. Finally, and this is most important Belle, you need to convince your law school to hire more interdisciplinary legal scholars - not only will it help you with these STATA problems, but it will give bloggers endless fodder for debate.
Thank you, Jeff! Thank you so much!
It is funny how long it took me to learn how to "think like a lawyer," and how long it is taking me now to undo it!