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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

Hey! Participants in survey experiments aren’t paying attention.

Gaurav Sood writes: Do survey respondents account for the hypothesis that they think people fielding the survey have when they respond? The answer, according to Mummolo and Peterson, is not much. Their paper also very likely provides the reason why—people don’t pay much attention. Figure 3 provides data on manipulation checks—the proportion guessing the hypothesis […]

When Prediction Markets Fail

A few years ago, David Rothschild and I wrote: Prediction markets have a strong track record and people trust them. And that actually may be the problem right now. . . . a trader can buy a contract on an outcome, such as the Democratic nominee to win the 2016 presidential election, and it will […]

Australian polls failed. They didn’t do Mister P.

Neil Diamond writes: Last week there was a federal election in Australia. Contrary to expectations and to opinion polls, the Government (a coalition between the Liberal (actually conservative) and National parties, referred to as LNP or the Coalition) was returned with an increased majority defeating the Australian Labor Party (ALP or Labor, no “u”). Voting […]

Have prices have risen more quickly for people at the bottom of the income distribution than for those at the top? Lefty window-breakers wait impatiently while economists struggle to resolve this dispute.

Palko points us to this post by Mike Konczal pointing to this news article by Annie Lowrey reporting on research by Christopher Wimer, Sophie Collyer, and Xavier Jaravel finding that “prices have risen more quickly for people at the bottom of the income distribution than for those at the top.” This new result counters an […]

I’m no expert

A journalist contacted me and wanted me to answer some questions. I said, sure, send them over by email, and here’s what came: ** The European Union has announced that the Special Financial Mechanism (SPV) will be implemented soon. What is your assessment of this mechanism? And how much do you think PSV could help […]

Is Statistics Good for Democracy?

Above is the title of the talk I’ll be giving this Wednesday 5:30pm at the Math and Democracy Seminar downtown. Statistics is what people think math is. So maybe they should be calling it a “math and statistics seminar.” Anyway, here it is: This talk will be some mix of News You Can Use and […]

Givewell is hiring; wants someone to help figure out how to give well; Bayesian methods may be relevant here

Josh Rosenberg writes: GiveWell ( is a nonprofit that does in-depth research to direct funds to outstanding organizations helping the global poor. In 2018, we directed more than $140 million to our recommendations. We are recruiting researchers at varying levels of seniority to identify the giving opportunities which can most cost-effectively improve the lives of […]

“The Role of Nature versus Nurture in Wealth and Other Economic Outcomes and Behaviors”

Sandra Black, Paul, Devereux, Petter Lundborg, and Kaveh Majlesi write: Wealth is highly correlated between parents and their children; however, little is known about the extent to which these relationships are genetic or determined by environmental factors. We use administrative data on the net wealth of a large sample of Swedish adoptees merged with similar […]

Statistician positions at RAND

Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar writes: I am asking for your help in identifying qualified candidates for Ph.D. Statistician openings at the RAND Corporation with multiple location options (Santa Monica, CA, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, PA, and Boston, MA). RAND was established almost 70 years ago to strengthen public policy through research and analysis. Over seven decades, our research […]

Social science plaig update

OK, we got two items for you, one in political science and one in history. Both are updates on cases we’ve discussed in the past on this blog. I have no personal connection to any of the people involved; my only interest is annoyance at the ways in which plagiarism pollutes scientific understanding and the […]

My talk at the Brookings Institution this Fri 11am

The replication crisis in science: Does it matter for policy? Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University I argue that policy analysts should care about the replication crisis for three reasons: (1) High-profile policy claims have been systematically exaggerated; (2) This has implications for how to conduct and interpret new […]

Junk science and fake news: Similarities and differences

Jingyi Kenneth Tay writes: As I read your recent post, “How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions” . . . and still stays around even after it’s been retracted, I realized that there are many similarities between this and fake news: how it is much easier to put fake news out […]

Bank Shot

Tom Clark writes: I came across this paper and thought of you. You might be aware of some papers that have been published about the effect of military surplus equipment aid that is given to police departments. Some economists have claimed to find that it reduces crime. My coauthors and I thought the papers were […]

The methods playroom: Mondays 11-12:30

Each Monday 11-12:30 in the Lindsay Rogers room (707 International Affairs Bldg, Columbia University): The Methods Playroom is a place for us to work and discuss research problems in social science methods and statistics. Students and others can feel free to come to the playroom and work on their own projects, with the understanding that […]

How much of the change from 2016 was due to different people voting vs. the same people changing their vote choice?

A colleague writes: Whenever I think of appropriate democratic strategies for 2020 I am drawn to ask how a candidate can get voters from Trump. But a colleague frequently corrects my thinking by saying Karl Rove discovered that you want to rile up your base to get them to turn out and appealing to the […]

Forming a hyper-precise numerical summary during a research crisis can improve an article’s chance of achieving its publication goals.

Speaking of measurement and numeracy . . . Kevin Lewis pointed me to this published article with the following abstract that starts out just fine but kinda spirals out of control: Forming a military coalition during an international crisis can improve a state’s chances of achieving its political goals. We argue that the involvement of […]

More on why Cass Sunstein should be thanking, not smearing, people who ask for replications

Recently we discussed law professor and policy intellectual Cass Sunstein’s statement that people who ask for social science findings to be replicated are like the former East German secret police. In that discussion I alluded to a few issues: 1. The replication movement is fueled in large part by high-profile work, lauded by Sunstein and […]

Multilevel structured (regression) and post-stratification

My enemies are all too familiar. They’re the ones who used to call me friend – Jawbreaker Well I am back from Australia where I gave a whole pile of talks and drank more coffee than is probably a good idea. So I’m pretty jetlagged and I’m supposed to be writing my tenure packet, so […]

Amending Conquest’s Law to account for selection bias

Robert Conquest was a historian who published critical studies of the Soviet Union and whose famous “First Law” is, “Everybody is reactionary on subjects he knows about.” I did some searching on the internet, and the most authoritative source seems to be this quote from Conquest’s friend Kingsley Amis: Further search led to this elaboration […]

Conditional probability and police shootings

A political scientist writes: You might have already seen this, but in case not: PNAS published a paper [Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings, by David Johnson, Trevor Tress, Nicole Burkel, Carley Taylor, and Joseph Cesario] recently finding no evidence of racial bias in police shootings: Jonathan Mummolo and Dean Knox noted […]