I think there’s something wrong this op-ed by developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, “4-year-olds don’t act like Trump,” and which begins, The analogy is pervasive among his critics: Donald Trump is like a child. . . . But the analogy is profoundly wrong, and it’s unfair to children. The scientific developmental research of the past 30 years shows that Mr. Trump is utterly unlike a 4-year-old. Gopnik continues with a list of positive attributes, each one which, she asserts, is held by four-year-olds but not by the president: Four-year-olds care deeply about the truth. . . . But Mr. Trump doesn’t just lie; he seems not even to care whether his statements are true. Four-year-olds are insatiably curious. One study found that the average preschooler asks hundreds of questions per day. . . . Mr. Trump refuses to read and is…
Original Post: #NotAll4YearOlds

What’s the deal with the YIMBYs?

This post is not by Andrew. It is by Phil. There’s at least one thing people in San Francisco seem to agree on: the rent is too damn high. The median rent is between about $3000 and $3500 per month…for a one-bedroom apartment. High-tech workers and upper-echelon businesspeople can afford a place, but baristas and hair salon workers and teachers and shop clerks etc. etc. have real trouble. Of course there is plenty of development pressure, and new high-rise apartments are going in that have hundreds of apartments each, typically with a rent of $4000 – $8000 per month. If you let a developer build “market rate” apartments, that’s what they’ll build. Suppose San Francisco adds 10,000 market-rate units. Some will be one-bedrooms, some two- or three-bedrooms, and some will be occupied by singles, others by couples, etc. But for…
Original Post: What’s the deal with the YIMBYs?

Mockery is the best medicine

Mockery is the best medicine Posted by Andrew on 11 May 2017, 4:37 pm [cat picture] I’m usually not such a fan of twitter, but Jeff sent me this, from Andy Hall, and it’s just hilarious: The background is here. But Hall is missing a few key determinants of elections and political attitudes: subliminal smiley faces, college football, fat arms, and, of course, That Time of the Month. You can see why I can’t do twitter. I’m not concise enough.
Original Post: Mockery is the best medicine

“Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz sent me his new book on learning from data. As is just about always the case for this sort of book, I’m a natural reviewer but I’m not really the intended audience. That’s why I gave Dan Ariely’s book to Juli Simon Thomas to review; I thought her perspective would be more relevant than mine for the potential reader. I took the new book by Stephens-Davidowitz and passed it along to someone else, a demanding reader who I thought might like it, and he did: he kept coming to me with new thought-provoking bits that he’d found in it. So that’s a pretty solid endorsement. I couldn’t convince him to write a review so you’ll have to take my word that he liked it. The thing I found most appealing about the book was that, in addition to…
Original Post: “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

What’s the difference between the French and U.S. presidential elections? Political parties.

What’s the difference between the French and U.S. presidential elections? Political parties. Posted by Andrew on 7 May 2017, 10:26 pm Consider a national election with the following four major candidates, from right to left:– Populist far-right nativist– Religious conservative– Center-left technocrat– Populist anti-corporate leftist In the first round of the 2017 French presidential election, these four candidates received 21%, 20%, 24%, and 20%, respectively. In the United States, these candidates were named Trump, Cruz, Clinton, and Sanders, and in a four-way race (with a bunch of minor candidates splitting the remaining 15% of the vote) they might well have garnered the very same proportions as above. In the U.S. runoff, the populist nationalist and the center-left technocrat split the vote evenly, whereas in the French runoff, the center-left technocrat won two-thirds of the vote. There are lots of differences between…
Original Post: What’s the difference between the French and U.S. presidential elections? Political parties.

The Aristocrats!

The Aristocrats! Posted by Andrew on 6 May 2017, 9:18 am [cat picture] I followed a link from Tyler Cowen to the book, “Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest,” by Mark Zupan (but not this Mark Zupan, I think). The link points to the book’s Amazon page, and here’s the very first blurb: ‘In the tradition of Parkinson’s Law, this fascinating and novel contribution to political theory examines in horrifying but eloquent detail just how vulnerable government is, not just to demand-side capture by special interests, but to supply-side take-over by insiders operating for their own benefit and at the expense of the public good.’ Vicount Matthew Ridley, Journalist, Member of the House of Lords and author of The Evolution of Everything A viscount is a kind of lord, right? Ummm, I better check. From Wikipedia: A viscount…
Original Post: The Aristocrats!

This one came in the email from July 2015

This one came in the email from July 2015 Posted by Andrew on 3 May 2017, 11:30 pm 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 his intension to run for the US presidency in 2016.He currently has a lot of high profile commercial and business deals in Dubai and is actively in talks for more in the wider region. We have been trying to determine:If a candidate succeeds in winning a nomination and goes on to win the election and reside in the White House do they have to give up their business interests…
Original Post: This one came in the email from July 2015

When do stories work, Process tracing, and Connections between qualitative and quantitative research

When do stories work, Process tracing, and Connections between qualitative and quantitative research Posted by Andrew on 11 January 2017, 9:45 am Jonathan Stray writes: I read your “when do stories work” paper (with Thomas Basbøll) with interest—as a journalist stories are of course central to my field. I wondered if you had encountered the “process tracing” literature in political science? It attempts to make sense of stories as “case studies” and there’s a nice logic of selection and falsification that has grown up around this. This article by David Collier is a good overview of process tracing, with a neat typology of story-based theory tests. Besides being a good paper generally, section 6 of this paper by James Mahoney and Gary Goertz discusses why you want non-random case/story selection in certain types of qualitative research. This paper by Jack Levy…
Original Post: When do stories work, Process tracing, and Connections between qualitative and quantitative research

The Lure of Luxury

From the sister blog, a response to an article by psychologist Paul Bloom on why people own things they don’t really need: Paul Bloom argues that humans dig deep, look beyond the surface, and attend to the nonobvious in ways that add to our pleasure and appreciation of the world of objects. I [Susan] wholly agree with that analysis. My objection, however, is that he does not go far enough. There is a dark side to our infatuation by and obsession with the past. Our focus on historical persistence reveals not just appreciation and pleasure, but also bigotry and cruelty. Bloom’s story is incomplete without bringing these cases to light. All the examples that Bloom discusses involve what we might call positive contagion—an object gains value because of its link to a beloved individual, history, or brand. This positive glow…
Original Post: The Lure of Luxury

Field Experiments and Their Critics

Seven years ago I was contacted by Dawn Teele, who was then a graduate student and is now a professor of political science, and asked for my comments on an edited book she was preparing on social science experiments and their critics. I responded as follows: This is a great idea for a project. My impression was that Angus Deaton is in favor of observational rather than experimental analysis; is this not so? If you want someone technical, you could ask Ed Vytlacil; he’s at Yale, isn’t he? I think the strongest arguments in favor of observational rather than experimental data are: (a) Realism in causal inference. Experiments–even natural experiments–are necessarily artificial, and there are problems in generalizing beyond them to the real world. This is a point that James Heckman has made. (b) Realism in research practice. Experimental data…
Original Post: Field Experiments and Their Critics