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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Taking perspective on perspective taking

Gabor Simonovits writes: I thought you might be interested in this paper with Gabor Kezdi of U Michigan and Peter Kardos of Bloomfield College, about an online intervention reducing anti-Roma prejudice and far-right voting in Hungary through a role-playing game. The paper is similar to some existing social psychology studies on perspective taking but we […]

Hey! Free money!

This just came in: On Dec 27, 2017, at 6:55 PM, ** wrote: My name is ** and I am a freelance writer hoping to contribute my writing to I would be willing to compensate you for publishing. For my posts, I require one related client link within the body of my article, as […]

The problem with those studies that claim large and consistent effects from small and irrelevant inputs

Dale Lehman writes: You have often critiqued those headline grabbing studies such as how news about shark attacks influence voting behavior, how the time of month/color of clothing influences voting, etc. I am in total agreement with your criticisms of this “research.” Too many confounding variables, too small sample sizes, too many forking paths, poor […]

Debate over claims of importance of spending on Obamacare advertising

Jerrod Anderson points to this post by Paul Shafer, Erika Fowler, Laura Baum, and Sarah Gollust, “Advertising cutbacks reduce Marketplace information-seeking behavior: Lessons from Kentucky for 2018.” Anderson expresses skepticism about this claim. I’ll first summarize the claims of Shafer et al. and then get to Anderson’s criticism. Shafer et al. write: The Trump administration […]

“The problem of infra-marginality in outcome tests for discrimination”

Camelia Simoiu, Sam Corbett-Davies, and Sharad Goel write: Outcome tests are a popular method for detecting bias in lending, hiring, and policing decisions. These tests operate by comparing the success rate of decisions across groups. For example, if loans made to minority applicants are observed to be repaid more often than loans made to whites, […]

Wanna know what happened in 2016? We got a ton of graphs for you.

The paper’s called Voting patterns in 2016: Exploration using multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) on pre-election polls, it’s by Rob Trangucci, Imad Ali, Doug Rivers, and myself, and here’s the abstract: We analyzed 2012 and 2016 YouGov pre-election polls in order to understand how different population groups voted in the 2012 and 2016 elections. We […]

What are the odds of Trump’s winning in 2020?

Kevin Lewis asks: What are the odds of Trump’s winning in 2020, given that the last three presidents were comfortably re-elected despite one being a serial adulterer, one losing the popular vote, and one bringing race to the forefront? My reply: Serial adulterer, poor vote in previous election, ethnicity . . . I don’t think […]

3 cool tricks about constituency service (Daniel O’Donnell and Nick O’Neill edition)

I’m a political scientist and have studied electoral politics and incumbency, but I’d not thought seriously about constituency service until a couple years ago, when I contacted some of our local city and state representatives about a nearby traffic intersection that seemed unsafe. I didn’t want any kids to get run over by drivers who […]

Another reason not to believe the Electoral Integrity Project

Nick Stevenson writes: If wonder if the Electoral Integrity Project still wants to defend Rwanda’s score of 64? Or is the U.S. (electoral integrity score 61) just jealous? Stevenson was reacting to a news article from the Washington Post (sorry, the link no longer works) that reported: The United States said Saturday it was “disturbed […]

Information flows both ways (Martian conspiracy theory edition)

A topic that arises from time to time in Bayesian statistics is the desire of analysts to propagate information in one direction, with no backwash, as it were. But the logic of Bayesian inference doesn’t work that way. If A and B are two uncertain statements, and A tells you something about B, then learning […]

Who’s afraid of prediction markets? (Hanson vs. Thicke)

In a post entitled, “Compare Institutions To Institutions, Not To Perfection,” Robin Hanson slams a recent paper by Michael Thicke that criticizes prediction markets. Hanson summarizes: Unfortunately many responses to reform proposals fit the above pattern: reject the reform because it isn’t as good as perfection, ignoring the fact that the status quo is nothing […]

The “shy Trump voter” meta-question: Why is an erroneous theory so popular?

In trying to make sense of the 2016 election and its polling, people keep bringing up the idea of the “shy Trump voters”—those people who supported Trump for president but didn’t want to admit this to pollsters. I’ve never thought this idea made much sense—I mean, sure, there are some people who don’t accurately report […]

I’ll use this line in my talk this Wednesday at the Society for Research on Educational Effectivness

I had a conversation with a policy analyst about the design of studies for program evaluation—the post is scheduled to appear in a few months—and he expressed some frustration: The idea of evidence based policy has put a gun to our heads as researchers to give binary responses with absolute confidence to a question that […]

“Deeper into democracy: the legitimacy of challenging Brexit’s majoritarian mandate”

There’s no reason that we should trust someone’s thoughts on politics just because he’s a good chess player, or even a good writer. That said, I found this opinion piece by Jonathan Rowson on Britain and the EU to be worth reading. Also I came across this short post by Rowson on “virtue signaling” which […]

Research project in London and Chicago to develop and fit hierarchical models for development economics in Stan!

Rachael Meager at the London School of Economics and Dean Karlan at Northwestern University write: We are seeking a Research Assistant skilled in R programming and the production of R packages. The successful applicant will have experience creating R packages accessible on github or CRAN, and ideally will have experience working with Rstan. The main […]

Methodological terrorism. For reals. (How to deal with “what we don’t know” in missing-data imputation.)

Kevin Lewis points us to this paper, by Aaron Safer-Lichtenstein, Gary LaFree, Thomas Loughran, on the methodology of terrorism studies. This is about as close to actual “methodological terrorism” as we’re ever gonna see here. The linked article begins: Although the empirical and analytical study of terrorism has grown dramatically in the past decade and […]

When the appeal of an exaggerated claim is greater than a prestige journal

Adam Clarke writes: Are you aiming to write a blog post soon on the recent PNAS article of ‘When the appeal of a dominant leader is greater than a prestige leader’? The connection it points out between economic uncertainty and preference for dominant leaders seems intuitive – perhaps a bit too intuitive. The “Edited by […]

State-space modeling for poll aggregation . . . in Stan!

Peter Ellis writes: As part of familiarising myself with the Stan probabilistic programming language, I replicate Simon Jackman’s state space modelling with house effects of the 2007 Australian federal election. . . . It’s not quite the model that I’d use—indeed, Ellis writes, “I’m fairly new to Stan and I’m pretty sure my Stan programs […]

The Trumpets of Lilliput

Gur Huberman pointed me to this paper by George Akerlof and Pascal Michaillat that gives an institutional model for the persistence of false belief. The article begins: This paper develops a theory of promotion based on evaluations by the already promoted. The already promoted show some favoritism toward candidates for promotion with similar beliefs, just […]

A lesson from the Charles Armstrong plagiarism scandal: Separation of the judicial and the executive functions

[updated link] Charles Armstrong is a history professor at Columbia University who, so I’ve heard, has plagiarized and faked references for an award-winning book about Korean history. The violations of the rules of scholarship were so bad that the American Historical Association “reviewed the citation issue after being notified by a member of the concerns […]