Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Oooh, I hate it when people call me “disingenuous”:

This has happened before. I hate it when someone describes me as “disingenuous,” which according to the dictionary, means “not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.” I feel like responding, truly, that I was being candid and sincere! But of course once someone accuses you […]

just about any dataset worth analyzing is worth reanalyzing: My review of “New Explorations into International Relations: Democracy, Foreign Investment, Terrorism, and Conflict,” by Seung-Whan Choi

The book is by Seung-Whan Choi and my review is here. I’ll repost it in a moment, but first I’ll share the strange story of how this review came to be and why it was never published. Back in 2017 I received an email from the journal Perspectives on Politics to review this book. I […]

4 years of an unpopular Republican president –> bad news for Republican support among young voters –> continuation of unprecedented generation gap –> I’m not sure what this implies for politics

We hear from Ole Rogeberg on occasion: 2009: Taking Absurd Theories Seriously: Economics and the Case of Rational Addiction Theories 2011: Descriptive statistics, causal inference, and story time 2012: Scientific fraud, double standards and institutions protecting themselves 2013: Struggles over the criticism of the “cannabis users and IQ change” paper 2015: Cannabis/IQ follow-up: Same old […]

Postmodernism for zillionaires

“Postmodernism” in academia is the approach of saying nonsense using a bunch of technical-sounding jargon. At least, I think that’s what postmodernism is . . . Hmm, let’s check wikipedia: Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from […]

MRP and Missing Data Question

Andy Timm writes: I’m curious if you have any suggestions for dealing with item nonresponse when using MRP. I haven’t seen anything particularly compelling in a literature review, but it seems like this has to have come up. It seems like a surprisingly large number of papers just go for a complete cases analysis, or […]

About those claims that the election forecasts hurt the Democrats in November

One reason that I’m skeptical of these claims of depressed voter turnout is that I’m old, and I remember the 1980 election. People blamed the Democrats’ poor performance in the west coast on the fact that the election had been called for Reagan before the polls had closed in those states. So the message seems […]

When does a misunderstanding reach the point where it is recognized to be flat-out ridiculous?

James Lasdun reviews a book by Ariel Sabar telling the story of a conman who sold a fake Bible-related document to a Harvard professor, leading to academic publications and media publicity before the whole thing fell apart. The most amusing of many amusing bits: An Egyptologist at Brown University, Leo Depuydt, found a ‘colossal double […]

In making minimal corrections and not acknowledging that he made these errors, Rajan is dealing with the symptoms but not the underlying problem, which is that he’s processing recent history via conventional wisdom.

Raghuram Rajan is an academic and policy star, University of Chicago professor, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, and former chief economic advisor to the government of India, and featured many times in NPR and other prestige media. He also appears to be in the habit of telling purportedly data-backed stories that aren’t […]

Your tax dollars at work (junk social science edition)

A couple people pointed me to this article: With this sort of work, I always wonder whether people who do this sort of thing really believe what they’re doing, or if they’re purposely complexifying things, the way that in chess you might try to make the board position more complex if you’re down a couple […]

About that A/C repairman story . . .

Paul Alper points us to this horrifying story of our modern world: A former Houston police captain, who the authorities said was investigating a voter fraud conspiracy theory for a conservative activist group, was arrested and charged with pointing his gun at an air-conditioner repairman he had pursued to try to uncover fraudulent ballots, prosecutors […]

Forking paths and gerrymandering

Richard Barnes writes: In this article (preprint here) we explore a similar concept to forking paths applied to quantifying electoral gerrymandering. (Some) efforts to quantify electoral gerrymandering aim to come up with a mathematical measure of how “oddly” a district is shaped. In the paper, we show that in translating from real-world geography to math-world […]

“Off white: A preliminary taxonomy”

Lots has been written on this topic (“How the Irish Became White,” etc.), but this post by Paul Campos is an amusing starting point. As he points out, we often think about race/ethnicity/nationality in the context of U.S. politics, but it’s an issue, one way or another, pretty much everywhere in the world.

This one’s for all the Veronica Geng fans out there . . .

I recently read Joseph Lanza’s excellent book from 1994, “Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Musak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong.” I’ll have more to say about this book in a future post, but for now I just had to share this bit I noticed on page 53: Lyndon Baines Johnson owned Muzak franchises in Austin […]

Call for a moratorium on the use of the term “prisoner’s dilemma”

Palko writes: I’m not sure what the best way to get the ball rolling here would be (perhaps a kickstarter?) but we need to have a strictly enforced rule that no journalist or pundit is allowed to mention the prisoner’s dilemma for the next five or ten years, however long it takes to learn to […]

Can you trust international surveys? A follow-up:

Michael Robbins writes: A few years ago you covered a significant controversy in the survey methods literature about data fabrication in international survey research. Noble Kuriakose and I put out a proposed test for data quality. At the time there were many questions raised about the validity of this test. As such, I thought you […]

Counterfactual history and historical fiction

In her book, “Telling it like it wasn’t: The counterfactual imagination in history and fiction,” Catherine Gallagher usefully distinguishes between three sorts of historical speculation: 1. Counterfactual histories which are “generally analytical rather than narrative” and “indicate multiple possibilities that went unrealized rather than to trace out single historical alternative trajectories in detail.” 2. Alternate […]

One reason why that estimated effect of Fox News could’ve been so implausibly high.

Ethan Kaplan writes: I just happened upon a post of yours on the potential impact of Fox News on the 2016 election [“No, I don’t buy that claim that Fox news is shifting the vote by 6 percentage points“]. I am one of the authors of the first Fox News study from 2007 (DellaVigna and […]

What happened with HMOs?

Back in the 1970s, I remember occasionally reading a newspaper or magazine article about this mysterious thing called an HMO—a “health maintenance organization.” The idea was that the medical system as we knew it (you go to the doctor when you’re sick and pay some money, or you go to the hospital if you’re in […]

Question on multilevel modeling reminds me that we need a good modeling workflow (building up your model by including varying intercepts, slopes, etc.) and a good computing workflow

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes: Lacking proper experience with multilevel modeling, I have a question regarding a nation-wide project on hospital mortality that I’ve recently come into contact with. The primary aim of the project is to benchmark hospital performances in terms of mortality (binary outcome) while controlling for “case mix”, that is, […]

Answers to your questions about polling and elections.

1. David Callaway writes: I read elsewhere (Kevin Drum) that the response rate to telephone polling is around 5%. It seems to me that means you are no longer dealing with a random sample, what you have instead is a self selected pool. I understand that to an extent you can correct a model for […]