Jacob Silverman graduated from the University of Maryland this May with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a BA in Government and Politics. He will matriculate at Harvard Law School in either the fall of 2020 or 2021.
As a JURIST Digital Scholar, Jacob plans to research the rhetoric used to discuss gun control. We often hear the phrase “Sandy Hook changed the gun control debate” and accept it uncritically without delving into what the expression means, or whether it is true. Jacob's project will examine the phrase’s validity in two ways. First, he will build a classifier to select articles in the JURIST database related to guns. He will then use algorithms to analyze sentiment and common words and phrases, seeking to determine whether there are notable differences in the material published before and after Sandy Hook. The second prong of Jacob's project will focus on the NRA's advocacy strategy. He will examine the NRA’s distribution of funds during election campaigns and how the organization has assigned its “letter grades” in the years before and after Sandy Hook. While Republican lawmakers have been favored, he hopes to understand whether this support has become more extreme.
Jacob has spent the last year researching political civility, involving extensive data analysis and text mining, for the Government and Politics department at Maryland. This research, while still ongoing, has resulted in a publication in the Washington Post and hopefully will culminate in a published journal article this summer. He is very excited to be one of the digital scholars at JURIST this summer.