Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category.
Political scientist Andrew Hacker recently asked “Is Algebra Necessary?” and the response has, unfortunately, been predictable.
Those in society’s minority who did well in math courses are “shocked” at the suggestion that we change the typical math curriculum. The teaching may be “dismal” but algebra is a “foundation stone” in developing critical thinking skills. “It teaches one how to think.” It’s a little amusing but mostly disheartening to see folks who claim to support more challenging math standards fall back on strawman arguments, condescension, sarcasm and, my favorite, math errors in their arguments.
Those in society’s majority who did poorly in math tended to respond with relief at the suggestion of dropping algebra, although there are a few PMSD (post-mathematics stress disorder) victims whose career paths were altered by failing math and who still carry the associated baggage and resentment.
Let’s set aside the hysterics (“We are breeding a nation of morons“) and give both sides of this debate a fair shake, shall we? Continue reading ‘Is Algebra Necessary? Yes and No.’ »
Having recently committed myself to earning my living as a Data Scientist, I’ve been reading anything I can find to guide my self-education. So I just spent the last hour reading and mulling over DJ Patil‘s article/report Building Data Science Teams (BDST henceforth) which is available free from various outlets; I read the Kindle version. (Disclaimer: DJ is a friend and occasional drinking buddy.) Continue reading ‘Review of “Building Data Science Teams” by DJ Patil’ »
Yesterday I got back from a great APSA in Seattle. My undergraduate students were despondent at me having to cancel class Thursday so I could attend. A few were curious about what happens at a scientific conference and asked about the structure. I explained that there would be several thousand political scientists at this conference and that most of the planned interaction would take place in panels. Continue reading ‘Planned Serendipity’ »
Next time you see someone “misinterpret” a confidence interval, wait a second. They’re actually probably okay. Continue reading ‘Regain your confidence (intervals)’ »
What is a methods-careful practitioner to do when the number of observations ($latex n$) is small? I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by a well-meaning Bayesian some variation of
Bayesian estimation addresses the “small $latex n$ problem”
This is right and wrong. Continue reading ‘Bayes fixes small n, doesn’t it?’ »
How do we show a statement about politics is true? Analytic formal modelers suggest one way:
Continue reading ‘Truth and Choices: Computational v. Analytical formal models’ »
I served in the US Navy for a few months in 1986, five years in the early 90s, and another year and a half in the reserves. I was never asked to shoot someone. I never pulled a trigger when the weapon was aimed at a person. I served during, but not “in” the first Gulf War. I served during “peacetime”, or at least that’s how I thought about it. However, over the last few months I have been thinking more about my time in uniform, realizing the lasting and deep effects that experience had on me. Continue reading ‘We all carry the scars’ »
My dad and I went to the recent Brown/Whitman California gubernatorial debate here at UC Davis. It was fun seeing “democracy” live and up close. One of the candidates twice repeated an old saw:
One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Continue reading ‘Change of Intuition about the Definition of Insanity’ »
Left or right? Liberal or conservative? Blue or red? We know the terms bandied about in the punditverse, but it’s easy to forget that there is more than one way to divide the world into two political ideologies.
Continue reading ‘Dimensionality matters: three implications of ideology being multidimensional’ »
Justin Wolfers wrote recently about the level of interaction between economics and other social sciences. In particular, he wonders why economic work is not well represented in a list of the books most cited in social science research. It’s a good question: I find many of the tools and techniques developed by economists are useful in my works studying political phenomena, and I do cite economic research.
One particularly thoughtful commenter on Wolfers’ post notes that economics combines the controversy of addressing everyday issues with the general inaccessibility of chemistry. This conflict may make some people resist the conclusions of economists, ie. strong prior + incomprehensible evidence = small amount of updating.
Continue reading ‘The better the question, the worse the answer’ »