Letter to the Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science

[relevant cat picture] tl;dr: Himmicane in a teacup. Back in the day, the New Yorker magazine did not have a Letters to the Editors column, and so the great Spy magazine (the Gawker of its time) ran its own feature, Letters to the Editor of the New Yorker, where they posted the letters you otherwise would never see. Here on this blog we can start a new feature, Letters to the Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, which will feature corrections that this journal refuses to print. Here’s our first entry: “In the article, ‘Going in Many Right Directions, All at Once,’ published in this journal, the author wrote, “some critics go beyond scientific argument and counterargument to imply that the entire field is inept and misguided (e.g., Gelman, 2014; Shimmack [sic], 2014).’ However, this article provided no evidence that…
Original Post: Letter to the Editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science

Delegate at Large

Delegate at Large Posted by Andrew on 29 July 2017, 9:42 am Asher Meir points to this delightful garden of forking paths, which begins: • Politicians on the right look more beautiful in Europe, the U.S. and Australia.• As beautiful people earn more, they are more likely to oppose redistribution.• Voters use beauty as a cue for conservatism in low-information elections.• Politicians on the right benefit more from beauty in low-information elections. I wrote: On the plus side, it did not appear in a political science journal! Economists and psychologists can be such suckers for the “voters are idiots” models of politics. Meir replied: Perhaps since I am no longer an academic these things don’t even raise my hackles anymore. I just enjoy the entertainment value. This stuff still raises my hackles, partly because I’m in the information biz so I…
Original Post: Delegate at Large

How does a Nobel-prize-winning economist become a victim of bog-standard selection bias?

Someone who wishes to remain anonymous writes in with a story: Linking to a new paper by Jorge Luis García, James J. Heckman, and Anna L. Ziff, an economist Sue Dynarski makes this “joke” on facebook—or maybe it’s not a joke: How does one adjust standard errors to account for the fact that N of papers on an experiment > N of participants in the experiment? Clicking through, the paper uses data from the “Abecedarian” (ABC) childhood intervention program of the 1970s. Well, the related ABC & “CARE” experiments, pooled together. From Table 3 on page 7, the ABC experiment has 58 treatment and 56 control students, while ABC has 17 treatment and 23 control. If you type “abecedarian” into Google Scholar, sure enough, you get 9,160 results! OK, but maybe some of those just have citations or references to…
Original Post: How does a Nobel-prize-winning economist become a victim of bog-standard selection bias?


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