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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

When the evidence is unclear

A few months ago I posted on a paper by Bernard Tanguy et al. on a field experiment in Ethiopia where I couldn’t figure out, from the article, where was the empirical support for the claims being made. This was not the first time I’d had this feeling about a claim made in social science […]

Total survey error

Erez Shalom writes: It’s election time in Israel and every week several surveys come out trying to predict the ‘mandates’ that each party will get (out of a total of 120). These surveys are historically flakey, and no one takes the ‘sampling error’ they come with seriously, but no one has a good idea of […]

Economics/sociology phrase book

Mark Palko points me to this amusing document from Jeffrey Smith and Kermit Daniel, translating sociology jargon into economics and vice-versa. Lots of good jokes there. Along these lines, I’ve always been bothered by economists’ phrase “willingness to pay” which, in practice, often means “ability to pay.” And, of course, “earnings” which means “how much […]

Cognitive vs. behavioral in psychology, economics, and political science

I’ve been coming across these issues from several different directions lately, and I wanted to get the basic idea down without killing myself in the writing of it. So consider this a sketchy first draft. The starting point is “behavioral economics,” also known as the “heuristics and biases” subfield of cognitive psychology. It’s associated with […]

What’s the point of the margin of error?

So . . . the scheduled debate on using margin of error with non-probability panels never happened. We got it started but there was some problem with the webinar software and nobody put the participants could hear anything. The 5 minutes of conversation we did have was pretty good, though. I was impressed. The webinar […]

Debate on using margin of error with non-probability panels

Tomorrow (Thurs 22 Jan) at 2pm, I’m participating (along with Jane Tang, John Bremer, Nancy Brigham, and Steve Mossup) on an online discussion, moderated by Annie Pettit, on the above topic. Here’s the description: Most marketing researchers know that using Margin of Error with convenience samples, non-probability samples, and online research panels is inappropriate. However, […]

Planning my class for this semester: Thinking aloud about how to move toward active learning?

I’m teaching two classes this semester: – Design and Analysis of Sample Surveys (in the political science department, but the course has lots of statistics content); – Statistical Communication and Graphics (in the statistics department, but last time I taught it, many of the students were from other fields). I’ve taught both classes before. I […]

A New Year puzzle from Macartan Humphreys

Macartan writes: There is a lot of worry about publication and analysis bias in social science research. It seems results are much more likely to be published if they are statistically significant than if not which can lead to very misleading inferences. There is some hope that this problem can be partly addressed through analytic […]

The anti-Woodstein

I received the following email: Dear professor Andrew Gelman, My name is **, a resident correspondent of **. I am writing to request for an interview via email. We met once at New York Foreign Press Center one week ago. As you may know, President Obama will travel to China, Burma and Australia from November […]

Common sense and statistics

John Cook writes: Some physicists say that you should always have an order-of-magnitude idea of what a result will be before you calculate it. This implies a belief that such estimates are usually possible, and that they provide a sanity check for calculations. And that’s true in physics, at least in mechanics. In probability, however, […]