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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

“Gallup gives up the horse race: As pollsters confront unprecedented obstacles, the biggest name in the business backs away”

A couple people pointed me to this news item. I don’t have anything particular to say here, but it seemed worth noting. End of an era and all that. P.S. A colleague commented: “They’re not going to poll one of those things where we can tell if you get it wrong. Not good.” I replied: […]

Flamebait: “Mathiness” in economics and political science

Political scientist Brian Silver points me to his post by economist Paul Romer, who writes: The style that I [Romer] am calling mathiness lets academic politics masquerade as science. Like mathematical theory, mathiness uses a mixture of words and symbols, but instead of making tight links, it leaves ample room for slippage between statements in […]

Jason Chaffetz is the Garo Yepremian of the U.S. House of Representatives, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

Mike Spagat and Paul Alper points us to this truly immoral bit of graphical manipulation, courtesy of U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz. Here’s the evil graph: Here’s the correction: From the news article by Zachary Roth: As part of a contentious back-and-forth in which Chaffetz repeatedly cut off [Planned Parenthood president Cecile] Richards, the congressman displayed […]

How to use lasso etc. in political science?

Tom Swartz writes: I am a graduate student at Oxford with a background in economics and on the side am teaching myself more statistics and machine learning. I’ve been following your blog for some time and recently came across this post on lasso. In particular, the more I read about the machine learning community, the […]

Draw your own graph!

Bob writes: You must have seen this. I like it. But not enough to spend time blogging about it. I’ll try blogging it myself . . . OK, yeah, this interactive graph is great. It reminds me of “scatterplot charades” exercises we do in class from time to time. Somebody should write a program so […]

War, Numbers and Human Losses

That’s the title of Mike Spagat’s new blog. In his most recent post, Spagat disputes the the claim that “at least 240,000 Syrians have died violently since the civil war flared up four years ago.” I am not an expert in this area so I offer no judgment on these particular numbers, but in any […]

BREAKING . . . Sepp Blatter accepted $2M payoff from Dennis Hastert

I think Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos were involved too. It all went down on the George Washington Bridge, and Hillary Clinton recorded it in her personal email. Details coming from Seymour Hersh. P.S. This was topical back when I wrote in early June! I would’ve put it on the sister blog, which specializes in […]

USAs usannsynlige presidentkandidat.

With current lag, this should really appear in September but I thought I better post it now in case it does not remain topical. It’s a news article by Linda May Kallestein, which begins as follows: Sosialisten Bernie Sanders: Kan en 73 år gammel jøde, født av polske innvandrere, vokst opp under enkle kår og […]

Vizzy vizzy vizzy viz

Nadia Hassan points me to this post by Matthew Yglesias, who writes: Here’s a very cool data visualization from that took me a minute to figure out because it’s a little bit unorthodox. The way it works is that it visualizes the entire world’s economic output as a circle. That circle is then subdivided […]

That was easy

This came in the email from Tom Kertscher: Are you available this afternoon or Wednesday to talk about a fact-check article I’m doing on Gov. Scott Walker’s statement that Wisconsin is a “blue” state? I’m aware, of course, that Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in each election since 1988. But I’d like […]

Macartan Humphreys on the Worm Wars

My Columbia political science colleague shares “What Has Been Learned from the Deworming Replications: A Nonpartisan View”: Last month there was another battle in a dispute between economists and epidemiologists over the merits of mass deworming.1 In brief, economists claim there is clear evidence that cheap deworming interventions have large effects on welfare via increased […]

Dan Kahan doesn’t trust the Turk

Dan Kahan writes: I [Kahan] think serious journals should adopt policies announcing that they won’t accept studies that use M Turk samples for types of studies they are not suited for. . . . Here is my proposal: Pending a journal’s adoption of a uniform policy on M Turk samples, the journal should should oblige […]

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 […]