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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

How much granularity do you need in your Mister P?

Matt Kosko writes: I had a question for you about the appropriate number of groups in an MRP model. I’m currently working on streamlining some of the code we use to estimate state-level political opinions from our surveys. I have state-level predictors and Census data for poststratification (i.e., population totals in each age-sex-state-education cell), but […]

The accidental experiment that saved 700 lives

Paul Alper sends along this news article by Sarah Kliff, who writes: Three years ago, 3.9 million Americans received a plain-looking envelope from the Internal Revenue Service. Inside was a letter stating that they had recently paid a fine for not carrying health insurance and suggesting possible ways to enroll in coverage. . . . […]

Statistical fallacies as they arise in political science (from Bob Jervis)

Bob Jervis sends along this fun document he gives to the students in his classes. Enjoy. Theories of International Relations Assume that all the facts and assertions in these paragraphs are correct. Why do the conclusions not follow? (This does not mean that the conclusions are actually false.) What are the alternative explanations for the […]

Pundits continue to push the white-men-are-dying story, even though the real pattern is occurring among women.

From the New York Times book review: Over the last century, Americans’ life expectancy at birth has risen from 49 to 77. Yet in recent years, that rise has faltered. Among white people age 45-54 — or a time many view as the prime of life — deaths have risen. Especially vulnerable are white men […]

Meg Wolitzer and George V. Higgins

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a Meg Wolitzer fan (see here and here). During the past year or so I’ve been working my way through her earlier books, and I just finished Surrender, Dorothy, which was a quick and fun and thought-provoking read, maybe not quite as polished as some of […]

“Men Appear Twice as Often as Women in News Photos on Facebook”

Onyi Lam, Stefan Wojcik, Adam Hughes, and Brian Broderick write: A new study of the images accompanying news stories posted publicly on Facebook by prominent American news media outlets finds that men appear twice as often as women do in news images, with a majority of photos showing exclusively men. . . . Researchers chose […]

Should we judge pundits based on their demonstrated willingness to learn from their mistakes?

Palko writes: Track records matter. Like it or not, unless you’re actually working with the numbers, you have to rely to some degree on the credibility of the analysts you’re reading. Three of the best ways to build credibility are: 1. Be right a lot. 2. When you’re wrong, admit it and seriously examine where […]

Hierarchical stacking, part II: Voting and model averaging

(This post is by Yuling) Yesterday I have advertised our new preprint on hierarchical stacking. Apart from the methodology development, perhaps I could draw some of your attention to the analogy between model averaging/selection and voting systems. Model selection = we have multiple models to fit the data and we choose the best candidate model. Model […]

What about that new paper estimating the effects of lockdowns etc?

A couple people pointed me to this article, “Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19,” which reports: The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. . . . We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs […]

“Enhancing Academic Freedom and Transparency in Publishing Through Post-Publication Debate”: Some examples in the study of political conflict

Mike Spagat writes: You’ll definitely want to see this interesting paper by Kristian Gleditsch. Research and Politics, a journal for which Kristian Gleditsch is one of the editors, has hosted several valuable rounds of post-publication peer review. One instance starts with a paper of mine and Stijn van Weezel which replicated, critiqued and improved earlier […]

Retired computer science professor argues that decisions are being made by “algorithms that are mathematically incapable of bias.” What does this mean?

This came up in the comments, but not everyone reads the comments, so . . . Joseph recommended an op-ed entitled “We must stop militant liberals from politicizing artificial intelligence; ‘Debiasing’ algorithms actually means adding bias,” by retired computer science professor Pedro Domingos. The article begins: What do you do if decisions that used to […]

No, this senatorial stock-picking study does not address concerns about insider trading:

Jonathan Falk writes: As you have tirelessly promoted, a huge problem with NHST is that “insignificant” effects on average can mask, via attenuation bias, important changes in subgroups. Further, as you have somewhat less tirelessly pointed out, you need much bigger samples to reliably see anything in subgroups, particularly when (ok.. you’re back to your […]

Flaxman et al. respond to criticisms of their estimates of effects of anti-coronavirus policies

As youall know, as the coronavirus has taken its path through the world, epidemiologists and social scientists have tracked rates of exposure and mortality, studied the statistical properties of the transmission of the virus, and estimated effects of behaviors and policies that have been tried to limit the spread of the disease. All this is […]

No, It’s Not a Prisoner’s Dilemma (the second in a continuing series):

The prisoner’s dilemma is the original counterintuitive hot take. Some social scientists and journalists just looove that dilemma because of how delightfully paradoxical it can be. But some situations that are described as prisoner’s dilemmas aren’t really. I discussed one such example in my article, Methodology as ideology: Some comments on Robert Axelrod’s “The Evolution […]

What do Americans think about coronavirus restrictions? Let’s see what the data say . . .

Back in May, I looked at a debate regarding attitudes toward coronavirus restrictions. The whole thing was kind of meta, in the sense that rather than arguing about what sorts of behavioral and social restrictions would be appropriate to control the disease at minimal cost, people were arguing about what were the attitudes held in […]

17 state attorney generals, 100 congressmembers, and the Association for Psychological Science walk into a bar

I don’t have much to add to all that’s been said about this horrible story. The statistics errors involved are pretty bad—actually commonplace in published scientific articles, but mistakes that seem recondite and technical in a paper about ESP, say, or beauty and sex ratio, become much clearer when the topic is something familiar such […]

Postdoc at the Polarization and Social Change Lab

Robb Willer informs us that the Polarization and Social Change Lab has an open postdoctoral position: The Postdoctoral Associate will be responsible for co-designing and leading research projects in one or more of the following areas: political polarization; framing, messaging, and persuasion; political dimensions of inequality; social movement mobilization; and online political behavior. This looks […]

Understanding Janet Yellen

I don’t know anything about Janet Yellen, the likely nominee for Secretary of the Treasury. For the purpose of this post, my ignorance is OK, even desirable, in that my goal is to try to understand mixed messages that I’m receiving. Two constrasting views on the prospective Treasury Secretary First, here’s Joseph Delaney: So, I […]

A very short statistical consulting story

I received the following email: Professor Gelman, My firm represents ** (Defendant) in a case pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of **. This case concerns [a topic in political science that you have written about]. I’ve reviewed your background and think that your research and interests, in particular your statistical background, […]

Greek statistician is in trouble for . . . telling the truth!

Paul Alper points us to this news article by Catherine Rampell, which tells this story: Georgiou is not a mobster. He’s not a hit man or a spy. He’s a statistician. And the sin at the heart of his supposed crimes was publishing correct budget numbers. The government has brought a relentless series of criminal […]