ArchiveNovember 2015

Why political opinion polls are good

If you think that polls are destroying democracy, then think about an alternative. Without polls, politicians, special interests and certain members of the news media would still have strong incentives to make forceful claims about the public’s views. Unconstrained by credible polling data, these individuals could spin incredible stories about the great public support for their endeavors. This...

Studying STEM turns you into an Islamic terrorist

Gambetta and Hertog painstakingly gather together data on individuals belonging to a variety of terrorist groups in the Muslim world. Where they are able to get the data, it displays a compelling pattern – engineers are much more prone to become members of violent terrorist organizations. More than twice as many members of violent Islamist organizations have engineering degrees as have degrees in...

Preschool is bad for kids

Say that at small scale, you have really high-quality early childhood education — but at large scale, the education may not be that great, because of all the aforementioned difficulties in growing the program. It’s possible that the small project is better for kids than the various child-care arrangements that parents make now, and the large project is worse. And indeed, that’s what a new...

“The end of polling as we know it.”

It’s a national — and international — trend. The polls underestimated the scope of the 2014 midterm elections. Elections and referenda in Greece, Poland, Britain, Israel, and Scotland embarrassed the pollsters who thought they knew what was going on. My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, Karlyn Bowman, has been studying polling for decades. She says this may be “the end of polling as...

Remove data labels and change data values to reduce bias in research!

Decades ago, physicists including Richard Feynman noticed something worrying. New estimates of basic physical constants were often closer to published values than would be expected given standard errors of measurement1. They realized that researchers were more likely to ‘confirm’ past results than refute them — results that did not conform to their expectation were more often...

Can we start taking political correctness seriously now?

The upsurge of political correctness is not just greasy-kid stuff, and it’s not just a bunch of weird, unfortunate events that somehow keep happening over and over. It’s the expression of a political culture with consistent norms, and philosophical premises that happen to be incompatible with liberalism. The reason every Marxist government in the history of the world turned massively repressive...

Is there a shortage of STEM workers?

Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times recently reported on the much-talked-about shortage of STEM workers, or workers in fields that predominantly deal with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). He notes that many studies indicate that the shortage of STEM workers is imagined. He also discovered that many of the companies that complain about their inability to find STEM...

About me

Stephen

Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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