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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Should the Problems with Polls Make Us Worry about the Quality of Health Surveys? (my talk at CDC tomorrow)

My talk this Thursday at CDC, Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 12:00 noon, 2400 Century Center, Room 1015C: Should the Problems with Polls Make Us Worry about the Quality of Health Surveys? Response rates in public opinion polls have been steadily declining for more than half a century and are currently heading toward the 0% mark. […]

How important is gerrymandering? and How to most effectively use one’s political energy?

Andy Stein writes: I think a lot of people (me included) would be interested to read an updated blog post from you on gerrymandering, even if your conclusions haven’t changed at all from your 2009 blog post [see also here]. Lots of people are talking about it now and Obama seems like he’ll be working […]

When do protests affect policy?

Gur Huberman writes that he’s been wondering for many years about this question: One function of protests is to vent out the protesters’ emotions. When do protests affect policy? In dictatorships there are clear examples of protests affecting reality, e.g., in Eastern Europe in 1989. It’s harder to find such clear examples in democracies. And […]

Age period cohort brouhaha

Hi everybody! In August, I announced a break from blogging. And this is my first new post since then. (not counting various interpolated topical items on polling, elections, laughable surveys comparing North Carolina to North Korea, junk science on pizza prices, etc) I’m still trying to figure out how to do this; I have a […]

How to attack human rights and the U.S. economy at the same time

I received this email from a postdoc in a technical field: As you might have heard, Trump signed an executive order today issuing a 30-day total suspension of visas and other immigration benefits for the citizens of Iran and six other countries. For my wife and me, this means that our visas are suspended; we […]

Let’s try to understand our own contradictions (what P. J. O’Rourke gets but Michael Lind doesn’t)

One way to understand the limitations of our own political attitudes is to recognize that other people think differently. Not just oppositely, but differently. To put it algebraically, suppose you believe A, B, C, D, E. OK, you won’t be surprised to hear that some people believe not-A, not-B, not-C, not-D, not-E. These are the […]

George Orwell on “alternative facts”

Paul Alper points me to this quote from George Orwell’s 1943 essay, Looking Back on the Spanish War: I know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is lies anyway. I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our […]

Quantifying uncertainty in identification assumptions—this is important!

Luis Guirola writes: I’m a poli sci student currently working on methods. I’ve seen you sometimes address questions in your blog, so here is one in case you wanted. I recently read some of Chuck Manski book “Identification for decision and prediction”. I take his main message to be “The only way to get identification […]

Looking for rigor in all the wrong places

My talk in the upcoming conference on Inference from Non Probability Samples, 16-17 Mar in Paris: Looking for rigor in all the wrong places What do the following ideas and practices have in common: unbiased estimation, statistical significance, insistence on random sampling, and avoidance of prior information? All have been embraced as ways of enforcing […]

“Estimating trends in mortality for the bottom quartile, we found little evidence that survival probabilities declined dramatically.”

Last year there was much discussion here and elsewhere about a paper by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who noticed that death rates for non-Hispanic white Americans aged 45-54 had been roughly flat since 1999, even while the death rates for this age category had been declining steadily in other countries and among nonwhite Americans. […]

Come and work with us!

Stan is an open-source, state-of-the-art probabilistic programming language with a high-performance Bayesian inference engine written in C++. Stan had been successfully applied to modeling problems with hundreds of thousands of parameters in fields as diverse as econometrics, sports analytics, physics, pharmacometrics, recommender systems, political science, and many more. Research using Stan has been featured in […]

“If the horse race polls were all wrong about Trump, why should his approval rating polls be any better?”

A journalist forwarded the above question to me and asked what I thought. My reply is that the horse race polls were not all wrong about Trump. The polls had him at approx 48% of the two-party vote and he received 49%. The polls were wrong by a few percentage points in some key swing […]

No evidence of incumbency disadvantage?

Several years ago I learned that the incumbency advantage in India was negative! There, the politicians are so unpopular that when they run for reelection they’re actually at a disadvantage, on average, compared to fresh candidates. At least, that’s what I heard. But Andy Hall and Anthony Fowler just wrote a paper claiming that, no, […]

When do stories work, Process tracing, and Connections between qualitative and quantitative research

Jonathan Stray writes: I read your “when do stories work” paper (with Thomas Basbøll) with interest—as a journalist stories are of course central to my field. I wondered if you had encountered the “process tracing” literature in political science? It attempts to make sense of stories as “case studies” and there’s a nice logic of […]

The Lure of Luxury

From the sister blog, a response to an article by psychologist Paul Bloom on why people own things they don’t really need: Paul Bloom argues that humans dig deep, look beyond the surface, and attend to the nonobvious in ways that add to our pleasure and appreciation of the world of objects. I [Susan] wholly […]

Field Experiments and Their Critics

Seven years ago I was contacted by Dawn Teele, who was then a graduate student and is now a professor of political science, and asked for my comments on an edited book she was preparing on social science experiments and their critics. I responded as follows: This is a great idea for a project. My […]

About that claim in the Monkey Cage that North Korea had “moderate” electoral integrity . . .

Yesterday I wrote about problems with the Electoral Integrity Project, a set of expert surveys that are intended to “evaluate the state of the world’s elections” but have some problems, notably rating more than half of the U.S. states in 2016 as having lower integrity than Cuba (!) and North Korea (!!!) in 2014. I […]

“Constructing expert indices measuring electoral integrity” — reply from Pippa Norris

This morning I posted a criticism of the Electoral Integrity Project, a survey organized by Pippa Norris and others to assess elections around the world. Norris sent me a long response which I am posting below as is. I also invited Andrew Reynolds, the author of the controversial op-ed, to contribute to the discussion. Here’s […]

About that bogus claim that North Carolina is no longer a democracy . . .

Nick Stevenson directed me to a recent op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer, where political science professor Andrew Reynolds wrote: In 2005, in the midst of a career of traveling around the world to help set up elections in some of the most challenging places on earth . . . my Danish colleague, Jorgen […]

Migration explaining observed changes in mortality rate in different geographic areas?

We know that the much-discussed increase in mortality among middle-aged U.S. whites is mostly happening among women in the south. In response to some of that discussion, Tim Worstall wrote: I [Worstall] have a speculative answer. It is absolutely speculative: but it is also checkable to some extent. Really, I’m channelling my usual critique of […]