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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

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 […]

Political Attitudes in Social Environments

Jose Duarte, Jarret Crawford, Charlotta Stern, Jonathan Haidt, Lee Jussim, and Philip Tetlock wrote an article, “Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science,” in which the argued that the field of social psychology would benefit from the inclusion of more non-liberal voices (here I’m using “liberal” in the sense of current U.S. politics). Duarte et […]

Go to PredictWise for forecast probabilities of events in the news

I like it. Clear, transparent, no mumbo jumbo about their secret sauce. But . . . what’s with the hyper-precision: C’mon. “27.4%”? Who are you kidding?? (See here for explication of this point.)

Gigerenzer on logical rationality vs. ecological rationality

I sent my post about the political implication of behavioral economics, embodied cognition, etc., to Gerd Gigerenzer, who commented as follows: The “half-empty” versus “half-full” explanation of the differences between Kahneman and us misses the essential point: the difference is about the nature of the glass of rationality, not the level of the water. For […]

Item-response and ideal point models

To continue from today’s class, here’s what we’ll be discussing next time: – Estimating the direction and the magnitude of the discrimination parameters. – How to tell when your data don’t fit the model. – When does ideal-point modeling make a difference? Comparing ideal-point estimates to simple averages of survey responses. P.S. Unlike the previous […]

Outside pissing in

Coral Davenport writes in the New York Times: Mr. Tribe, 73, has been retained to represent Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal company, in its legal quest to block an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants . . . Mr. Tribe likened the climate change […]

This is why I’m a political scientist and not a psychologist

I can understand how people can hold all sorts of wacked-out political views (after all, in the past, people have supported ideas as crazy as abolitionism, polygamy, monarchy, and the nationalization of the means of production), but certain things in psychology just continue to baffle me, even though I know they’re true. The most recent […]

Time-release pedagogy??

Mark Palko points to this report and writes: Putting aside my concerns with the “additional years of learning” metric (and I have a lot of them), I have the feeling that there’s something strange here or i’m missing something obvious. That jump from 3-year impact to 4-year seems excessive. The press release links to a […]

How is ethics like logistic regression?

Ethics decisions, like statistical inferences, are informative only if they’re not too easy or too hard. For the full story, read the whole thing.