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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

What’s the stupidest thing the NYC Department of Education and Columbia University Teachers College did in the past decade?

Ummm, how bout this: The principal of a popular elementary school in Harlem acknowledged that she forged answers on students’ state English exams in April because the students had not finished the tests . . . As a result of the cheating, the city invalidated several dozen English test results for the school’s third grade. […]

Ira Glass asks. We answer.

The celebrated radio quiz show star says: There’s this study done by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian Magazine . . . they called up one thousand and one Americans. I do not understand why it is a thousand and one rather than just a thousand. Maybe a thousand and one just seemed sexier or […]

Awesomest media request of the year

(Sent to all the American Politics faculty at Columbia, including me) RE: Donald Trump presidential candidacy Hi, Firstly, apologies for the group email but I wasn’t sure who would be best prized to answer this query as we’ve not had much luck so far. I am a Dubai-based reporter for **. Donald Trump recently announced […]

July 4th

Lucky to have been born an American.

Recently in the sister blog

When is the death penalty okay? A court with no Protestants How much does advertising matter in presidential elections? Bartenders are Democrats, beer wholesalers are Republicans The ambiguity of racial categories No, public opinion is not driven by ‘unreasoning bias and emotion’ Political science: Who is it for? Modern campaigning has big effects on voter […]

A note from John Lott

The other day, I wrote: It’s been nearly 20 years since the last time there was a high-profile report of a social science survey that turned out to be undocumented. I’m referring to the case of John Lott, who said he did a survey on gun use in 1997, but, in the words of Wikipedia, […]

Our new column in the Daily Beast

Kaiser Fung and I have a new weekly column for the Daily Beast. After much deliberation, we gave it the title Statbusters (the runner-up choice was Dirty Data; my personal preference was Statboyz in the Hood, but, hey, who ever listens to me on anything?). The column will appear every Saturday, and Kaiser and I […]

When the counterintuitive becomes the norm, arguments get twisted out of shape

I was bothered by a recent post on the sister blog. The post was by political scientist David Fortunato and it was called, Would “concealed carry” have stopped Dylann Roof’s church shooting spree?. What bugged me in particular was this sentence: On its face, the claim that increasing the number of gun carriers would reduce […]

The David Brooks files: How many uncorrected mistakes does it take to be discredited?

OK, why am I writing this? We all know that New York Times columnist David Brooks deals in false statistics, he’s willing and able to get factual matters wrong, he doesn’t even fact-check his own reporting, his response when people point out his mistakes is irritation rather than thanks, he won’t run a correction even […]

Michael LaCour in 20 years

In case you were wondering what “Bruno” Lacour will be doing a couple decades from now . . . James Delaney pointed me to this CNN news article, “Connecticut’s strict gun law linked to large homicide drop” by Carina Storrs: The rate of gun-related murders fell sharply in the 10 years after Connecticut implemented a […]

“The psychologists are getting a hard time for doing what they do, whereas people doing real harm to society are happily roaming around like free range chicken”

Shravan Vasishth writes: At least people like Amy Cuddy are just doing bullshit research that’s harmless (after all, raising your arms up high before an interview is unlikely to hurt society much). But check out this MIT “Professor” explaining the “statistically significant” autism-vaccine “connection”: She even takes a notorious, fraudulent, and retracted Lancet article as […]

What to do to train to apply statistical models to political science and public policy issues

Taylor Good writes: I am a graduate of a state school with a BS in Math and a BA in Political Science, and I was wondering if you could give me some career advice. Knowing how you got to where you are now, what path would you advise someone to take to get to where […]

“History is the prediction of the present”

Ethan Bolker sent me an email with the above title and wrote: That’s the first sentence of a Louis Menand book review in the March 30 New Yorker. It touches on some ideas you play with. If you haven’t seen it, you might put it on your (long?) queue of things to read, maybe blog […]

We need a title for our Daily Beast column

Kaiser and I will soon start a weekly column for the Daily Beast, focusing on statistics that are cited in political and civic debates. The question is, what to call it? We have a few possibilities but aren’t thrilled with any of them. So we could use some help from the wisdom of the crowd. […]

All the things that don’t make it into the news

I got buzzed last week by a couple of NY journalists about this recent political science fraud case. My responses were pretty undramatic so I don’t think they made their way into the news stories. Which is fine. As a reader of the news, I like to see excitement so it’s fair enough that reporters […]

Stock, flow, and two smoking regressions

In a comment on our recent discussion of stock and flow, Tom Fiddaman writes: Here’s an egregious example of statistical stock-flow confusion that got published. Fiddaman is pointing to a post of his from 2011 discussing a paper that “examines the relationship between CO2 concentration and flooding in the US, and finds no significant impact.” […]

John Lott as possible template for future career of “Bruno” Lacour

The recent story about the retracted paper on political persuasion reminded me of the last time that a politically loaded survey was discredited because the researcher couldn’t come up with the data. I’m referring to John Lott, the “economist, political commentator, and gun rights advocate” (in the words of Wikipedia) who is perhaps more well […]

BREAKING . . . Princeton decides to un-hire Kim Jong-Un for tenure-track assistant professorship in aeronautical engineering

Full story here. Here’s the official quote: As you’ve correctly noted, at this time the individual is not a Princeton University employee. We will review all available information and determine next steps. And here’s what Kim has to say: I’m gathering evidence and relevant information so I can provide a single comprehensive response. I will […]

“In my previous post on the topic, I expressed surprise at the published claim but no skepticism”

Don’t believe everything you read in the tabloids, that’s for sure. P.S. I googled to see what else was up with this story and found this article which reported that someone claimed that Don Green’s retraction (see above link for details) was the first for political science. I guess it depends on how you define […]

A causal-inference version of a statistics problem: If you fit a regression model with interactions, and the underlying process has an interaction, your coefficients won’t be directly interpretable

A colleague pointed me to a recent paper, “Does Regression Produce Representative Estimates of Causal Effects?” by Peter Aronow and Cyrus Samii, which begins: With an unrepresentative sample, the estimate of a causal effect may fail to characterize how effects operate in the population of interest. What is less well understood is that conventional estimation […]