nhaliday + social-choice   73

Duverger's law - Wikipedia
plurality-rule elections (such as first past the post) structured within single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system and that "the double ballot majority system and proportional representation tend to favor multipartism"
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Gender Differences in Vote Choice: Social Cues and Social Harmony as Heuristics | British Journal of Political Science | Cambridge Core
It argues that men’s generally lower sensitivity to social cues makes them more likely to vote for stigmatized and small parties, whereas women’s greater concern with social harmony is expected to make them less likely to vote for extreme parties. The models are tested at the individual and party levels using three waves of Comparative Study of Electoral Systems data from twenty-eight countries. Ceteris paribus, men are more likely than women to vote for parties that are socially stigmatized or ideologically extreme.

women are regime loyalists
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Does Polarization Imply Poor Representation? A New Perspective on the “Disconnect” Between Politicians and Voters*
Broockman-Ahler 2015

immigration positions under B.2: http://www.dougahler.com/uploads/2/4/6/9/24697799/ahler_broockman_ideological_innocence.pdf#page=42
distribution: http://www.dougahler.com/uploads/2/4/6/9/24697799/ahler_broockman_ideological_innocence.pdf#page=53

38% support immediate mass deportation of all illegals (Broockman 2015). This view has zero representation in either house of congress.

Do you understand the GOP play here by the way? I'm genuinely puzzled. Is it a moral conviction? Because it can't be a vote play.
In my view it's a mix of mindless sentimentality, the donor class, and existing in an hermetically sealed ideological bubble.

cheap labor lobby, public choice (votes), & subversive elites gripped by multiculti zealotry

In a 2014 radio interview, Paul Ryan was asked if "immigrants from the 3rd world are more or less likely to support conservative policies":
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Reckonings; A Rent Affair - The New York Times
Economists who have ventured into the alleged real world often quote Princeton's Alan Blinder, who has formulated what he calls ''Murphy's Law of economic policy'': ''Economists have the least influence on policy where they know the most and are most agreed; they have the most influence on policy where they know the least and disagree most vehemently.'' It's flip and cynical, but it's true.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
Montesquieu, Causes of the Greatness of the Romans
What makes free states last a shorter time than others is that both the misfortunes and the successes they encounter almost always cause them to lose their freedom. In a state where the people are held in subjection, however, successes and misfortunes alike confirm their servitude. A wise republic should hazard nothing that exposes it to either good or bad fortune. The only good to which it should aspire is the perpetuation of its condition.

If the greatness of the empire ruined the republic, the greatness of the city ruined it no less.

Rome had subjugated the whole world with the help of the peoples of Italy, to whom it had at different times given various privileges.2;a At first most of these peoples did not care very much about the right of Roman citizenship, and some preferred to keep their customs.3 But when this right meant universal sovereignty, and a man was nothing in the world if he was not a Roman citizen and everything if he was, the peoples of Italy resolved to perish or become Romans. Unable to succeed by their intrigues and entreaties, they took the path of arms. They revolted all along the coast of the Ionian sea; the other allies started to follow them.4 Forced to fight against those who were, so to speak, the hands with which it enslaved the world, Rome was lost. It was going to be reduced to its walls; it therefore accorded the coveted right of citizenship to the allies who had not yet ceased being loyal,5 and gradually to all.

After this, Rome was no longer a city whose people had but a single spirit, a single love of liberty, a single hatred

a In extent and importance, Latin rights were between Roman and Italian rights.

of tyranny — a city where the jealousy of the senate's power and the prerogatives of the great, always mixed with respect, was only a love of equality. Once the peoples of Italy became its citizens, each city brought to Rome its genius, its particular interests, and its dependence on some great protector.6 The distracted city no longer formed a complete whole. And since citizens were such only by a kind of fiction, since they no longer had the same magistrates, the same walls, the same gods, the same temples, and the same graves, they no longer saw Rome with the same eyes, no longer had the same love of country, and Roman sentiments were no more.

The ambitious brought entire cities and nations to Rome to disturb the voting or get themselves elected. The assemblies were veritable conspiracies; a band of seditious men was called a comitia.b The people's authority, their laws and even the people themselves became chimerical things, and the anarchy was such that it was no longer possible to know whether the people had or had not adopted an ordinance.7

We hear in the authors only of the dissensions that ruined Rome, without seeing that these dissensions were necessary to it, that they had always been there and always had to be. It was the greatness of the republic that caused all the trouble and changed popular tumults into civil wars. There had to be dissensions in Rome, for warriors who were so proud, so audacious, so terrible abroad could not be very moderate at home. To ask for men in a free state who are bold in war and timid in peace is to wish the impossible. And, as a general rule, whenever we see everyone tranquil in a state that calls itself a republic, we can be sure that liberty does not exist there.

What is called union in a body politic is a very equivocal thing. The true kind is a union of harmony, whereby all the

b These were the assemblies into which the Roman people were organized for electoral purposes.

parts, however opposed they may appear, cooperate for the general good of society — as dissonances in music cooperate in producing overall concord. In a state where we seem to see nothing but commotion there can be union — that is, a harmony resulting in happiness, which alone is true peace. It is as with the parts of the universe, eternally linked together by the action of some and the reaction of others.

But, in the concord of Asiatic despotism — that is, of all government which is not moderate — there is always real dissension. The worker, the soldier, the lawyer, the magistrate, the noble are joined only inasmuch as some oppress the others without resistance. And, if we see any union there, it is not citizens who are united but dead bodies buried one next to the other.

It is true that the laws of Rome became powerless to govern the republic. But it is a matter of common observation that good laws, which have made a small republic grow large, become a burden to it when it is enlarged. For they were such that their natural effect was to create a great people, not to govern it.

There is a considerable difference between good laws and expedient laws — between those that enable a people to make itself master of others, and those that maintain its power once it is acquired.

There exists in the world at this moment a republic that hardly anyone knows about,8 and that — in secrecy and silence — increases its strength every day. Certainly, if it ever attains the greatness for which its wisdom destines it, it will necessarily change its laws. And this will not be the work of a legislator but of corruption itself.

Rome was made for expansion, and its laws were admirable for this purpose. Thus, whatever its government had been — whether the power of kings, aristocracy, or a popular state — it never ceased undertaking enterprises that made demands on its conduct, and succeeded in them. It did not prove wiser than all the other states on earth for a day, but continually. It. sustained meager, moderate and great prosperity with the same superiority, and had neither successes from which it did not profit, nor misfortunes of which it made no use.

It lost its liberty because it completed the work it wrought too soon.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
Defection – quas lacrimas peperere minoribus nostris!

Kindness Against The Grain: https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/kindness-against-the-grain/
I’ve heard from a number of secular-ish sources (Carse, Girard, Arendt) that the essential contribution of Christianity to human thought is the concept of forgiveness. (Ribbonfarm also has a recent post on the topic of forgiveness.)

I have never been a Christian and haven’t even read all of the New Testament, so I’ll leave it to commenters to recommend Christian sources on the topic.

What I want to explore is the notion of kindness without a smooth incentive gradient.

The Social Module: https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/the-social-module/
Now one could propose that the basic principle of human behavior is to raise the SP number. Sure there’s survival and reproduction. Most people would forget all their socialization if left hungry and thirsty for days in the jungle. But more often than not, survival and reproduction depend on being high status; having a good name among your peers is the best way to get food, housing and hot mates.

The way to raise one’s SP number depends on thousands of different factors. We could grab most of them and call them “culture”. In China having 20 teenage mistresses as an old man raises your SP; in Western polite society it is social death. In the West making a fuss about disobeying one’s parents raises your SP, everywhere else it lowers it a great deal. People know that; which is why bureaucrats in China go to great lengths to acquire a stash of young women (who they seldom have time to actually enjoy), while teenagers in the West go to great lengths to be annoying to their parents for no good reason.


It thus shouldn’t surprise us that something as completely absurd as Progressivism is the law of the land in most of the world today, even though it denies obvious reality. It is not the case that most people know that progressive points are all bogus, but obey because of fear or cowardice. No, an average human brain has much more neurons being used to scan the social climate and see how SP are allotted, than neurons being used to analyze patterns in reality to ascertain the truth. Surely your brain does care a great deal about truth in some very narrow areas of concern to you. Remember Conquest’s first law: Everybody is Conservative about what he knows best. You have to know the truth about what you do, if you are to do it effectively.

But you don’t really care about truth anywhere else. And why would you? It takes time and effort you can’t really spare, and it’s not really necessary. As long as you have some area of specialization where you can make a living, all the rest you must do to achieve survival and reproduction is to raise your SP so you don’t get killed and your guts sacrificed to the mountain spirits.

SP theory (I accept suggestions for a better name) can also explains the behavior of leftists. Many conservatives of a medium level of enlightenment point out the paradox that leftists historically have held completely different ideas. Leftism used to be about the livelihood of industrial workers, now they agitate about the environment, or feminism, or foreigners. Some people would say that’s just historical change, or pull a No True Scotsman about this or that group not being really leftists. But that’s transparent bullshit; very often we see a single person shifting from agitating about Communism and worker rights, to agitate about global warming or rape culture.


The leftist strategy could be defined as “psychopathic SP maximization”. Leftists attempt to destroy social equilibrium so that they can raise their SP number. If humans are, in a sense, programmed to constantly raise their status, well high status people by definition can’t raise it anymore (though they can squabble against each other for marginal gains), their best strategy is to freeze society in place so that they can enjoy their superiority. High status people by definition have power, and thus social hierarchy during human history tends to be quite stable.

This goes against the interests of many. First of all the lower status people, who, well, want to raise their status, but can’t manage to do so. And it also goes against the interests of the particularly annoying members of the upper class who want to raise their status on the margin. Conservative people can be defined as those who, no matter the absolute level, are in general happy with it. This doesn’t mean they don’t want higher status (by definition all humans do), but the output of other brain modules may conclude that attempts to raise SP might threaten one’s survival and reproduction; or just that the chances of raising one’s individual SP is hopeless, so one might as well stay put.


You can’t blame people for being logically inconsistent; because they can’t possibly know anything about all these issues. Few have any experience or knowledge about evolution and human races, or about the history of black people to make an informed judgment on HBD. Few have time to learn about sex differences, and stuff like the climate is as close to unknowable as there is. Opinions about anything but a very narrow area of expertise are always output of your SP module, not any judgment of fact. People don’t know the facts. And even when they know; I mean most people have enough experience with sex differences and black dysfunction to be quite confident that progressive ideas are false. But you can never be sure. As Hume said, the laws of physics are a judgment of habit; who is to say that a genie isn’t going to change all you know the next morning? At any rate, you’re always better off toeing the line, following the conventional wisdom, and keeping your dear SP. Perhaps you can even raise them a bit. And that is very nice. It is niceness itself.

Leftism is just an easy excuse: https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/leftism-is-just-an-easy-excuse/
Unless you’re not the only defector. You need a way to signal your intention to defect, so that other disloyal fucks such as yourself (and they’re bound to be others) can join up, thus reducing the likely costs of defection. The way to signal your intention to defect is to come up with a good excuse. A good excuse to be disloyal becomes a rallying point through which other defectors can coordinate and cover their asses so that the ruling coalition doesn’t punish them. What is a good excuse?

Leftism is a great excuse. Claiming that the ruling coalition isn’t leftist enough, isn’t holy enough, not inclusive enough of women, of blacks, of gays, or gorillas, of pedophiles, of murderous Salafists, is the perfect way of signalling your disloyalty towards the existing power coalition. By using the existing ideology and pushing its logic just a little bit, you ensure that the powerful can’t punish you. At least not openly. And if you’re lucky, the mass of disloyal fucks in the ruling coalition might join your banner, and use your exact leftist point to jump ship and outflank the powerful.


The same dynamic fuels the flattery inflation one sees in monarchical or dictatorial systems. In Mao China, if you want to defect, you claim to love Mao more than your boss. In Nazi Germany, you proclaim your love for Hitler and the great insight of his plan to take Stalingrad. In the Roman Empire, you claimed that Caesar is a God, son of Hercules, and those who deny it are treacherous bastards. In Ancient Persia you loudly proclaimed your faith in the Shah being the brother of the Sun and the Moon and King of all Kings on Earth. In Reformation Europe you proclaimed that you have discovered something new in the Bible and everybody else is damned to hell. Predestined by God!


And again: the precise content of the ideological point doesn’t matter. Your human brain doesn’t care about ideology. Humans didn’t evolve to care about Marxist theory of class struggle, or about LGBTQWERTY theories of social identity. You just don’t know what it means. It’s all abstract points you’ve been told in a classroom. It doesn’t actually compute. Nothing that anybody ever said in a political debate ever made any actual, concrete sense to a human being.

So why do we care so much about politics? What’s the point of ideology? Ideology is just the water you swim in. It is a structured database of excuses, to be used to signal your allegiance or defection to the existing ruling coalition. Ideology is just the feed of the rationalization Hamster that runs incessantly in that corner of your brain. But it is immaterial, and in most cases actually inaccessible to the logical modules in your brain.

Nobody ever acts on their overt ideological claims if they can get away with it. Liberals proclaim their faith in the potential of black children while clustering in all white suburbs. Communist party members loudly talk about the proletariat while being hedonistic spenders. Al Gore talks about Global Warming while living in a lavish mansion. Cognitive dissonance, you say? No; those cognitive systems are not connected in the first place.


And so, every little step in the way, power-seekers moved the consensus to the left. And open societies, democratic systems are by their decentralized nature, and by the size of their constituencies, much more vulnerable to this sort of signalling attacks. It is but impossible to appraise and enforce the loyalty of every single individual involved in a modern state. There’s too many of them. A Medieval King had a better chance of it; hence the slow movement of ideological innovation in those days. But the bigger the organization, the harder it is to gather accurate information of the loyalty of the whole coalition; and hence the ideological movement accelerates. And there is no stopping it.

Like the Ancients, We Have Gods. They’ll Get Greater: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2018/04/like-the-ancients-we-have-gods-they-may-get… [more]
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Nancy MacLean Owes Tyler Cowen an Apology – Russ Roberts – Medium
lol: https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/879717516184080384
hmm: https://twitter.com/razibkhan/status/891134709924868096
So any political regime premised on defending property rights is race-biased. If you want to call that racist, I think it's justified.

lmao wut


The Bizarre Conspiracy Theory Nominated for a National Book Award: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/453408/nancy-macleans-democracy-chains-will-conspiracy-theory-win-national-book-award

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june 2017 by nhaliday
The Limits of Public Choice Theory – Jacobite
Many people believe that politics is difficult because of incentives: voters vote for their self interest; bureaucrats deliberately don’t solve problems to enlarge their departments; and elected officials maximize votes for power and sell out to lobbyists. But this cynical view is mostly wrong—politics, insofar as it has problems, has problems not because people are selfish—it has problems because people have wrong ideas. In fact, people mostly act surprisingly altruistically, motivated by trying to do good for their country.


I got into politics and ideas as a libertarian. I was attracted by the idea of public choice as a universal theory of politics. It’s intuitively appealing, methodologically individualist, and it supported all of the things I already believed. And it’s definitely true to some extent—there is a huge amount of evidence that it affects things somewhat. But it’s terrible as a general theory of politics in the developed world. Our policies are bad because voters are ignorant and politicians believe in things too much, not because everyone is irredeemably cynical and atavistic.

interesting take, HBD?: https://twitter.com/pseudoerasmus/status/869882831572434946

recommended by Garett Jones:
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may 2017 by nhaliday
There can only be one! | West Hunter
Dynasties decay.   The founder generally has a lot on the ball – tough, a natural leader, and canny campaigner – but his son is unlikely to be so exceptional.  Partly this is a manifestation of regression to the mean, and partly because his mother was probably chosen for something other than her talents as a warlord. By the fourth or fifth generation, it can be hard to believe that the useless poet on the throne is truly a member of the Golden Family.

This decay is a fundamental historical fact – an inevitable consequence of  biology and primogeniture.  It’s one of the important weaknesses of dynastic rule. The Ottomans, however, found a way around it for some centuries – the law of fratricide.  Upon the death of the Sultan, all of his sons were theoretically eligible for the succession (not just the oldest).  Since the Sultan had a harem, there were a lot of them. Whoever first seized power then had all his brothers and half-brothers executed by ritual strangulation. Incompetents didn’t win out in this struggle.

Dynastic decline through regression seems meaning you go from a guy like Stalin to an imperfect copy of Stalin that’s more like the average person (less competent but lacking in other traits that make Stalin, Stalin). Might not always totally all be “bad” for most people’s status, depending on the Great Man’s balance of competence to traits in a ruler that you don’t really want, but which helped them to seize power anyway.

Speculation, but might inbreeding be a way to hang on to more of the founder’s right stuff?

Thereby why constitutional monarchy and similar arrangements might tend to emerge in more outbreeding populations, because the successors to the big Mafia that runs the state and all the little Mafias that run everything else down from there tend to retain less ancestral competence and less ancestral desire for domination and status, so alternative arrangements are found.

list of evaluations for presidents+
"Competence, of course, is not the same thing as acting in the best interests of the common people. But it is absolutely essential for the continuation of a royal lineage or dynasty."

If everyone in a country was absolutely obsessed with the idea that the human pinkie finger was a symbol of a leader’s connection to god and was required for him to be a good ruler, this whole problem would be solved. The oldest brother could simply have his younger siblings’ pinkie fingers cut off, and let them live.

This would mean that ruling families would be much more free to have big families and expand their power even more.
The Byzantines did something similar with deposed emperors: the disfigured were ineligible for the role of God’s regent, or whatever the emperors were theologically. So, off with the nose! Justinian II ruined this humane custom by by wearing a silver nose after his restoration, à la the Lee Marvin character in Cat Ballou.

Here is my take on a solid alternative to democracy in the West: adoptive monarchy. We are acquainted with the Five Good Emperors of Rome. Before an Emperor died, he would adopt his most capable, wise and just subordinate as his son, who would become Emperor after his adoptive father died. The Roman Empire was perhaps at its most stable and prosperous point duribg this time period, and Edward Gibbon esteemed it as the high point of human history up through the time he was writing his tomes about Roman history, at least for the common Roman citizen.

If the American electorate continues to decline, ever falling into idiocy, factionalism and dementia, then I think it might be prudent to put adoptive monarchy into play, and have our monarchs rule the country in the spirit of the Constitution while temporarily holding it in suspension. The monarchs would have 40 to 80 years to pursue enlightened demographic policies, which would ensure that the American people would be ready for democratic rule again. There of course would be a Congress and courts. Both of these branches of government would at first be impotent, but would gradually regain their former power and prestige. At some point, the monarchy would be abolished, with an elected president regaining command of the executive branch, having about as much power as, say, Eisenhower did.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Educational Romanticism & Economic Development | pseudoerasmus


Did Nations that Boosted Education Grow Faster?: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/10/did_nations_tha.html
On average, no relationship. The trendline points down slightly, but for the time being let's just call it a draw. It's a well-known fact that countries that started the 1960's with high education levels grew faster (example), but this graph is about something different. This graph shows that countries that increased their education levels did not grow faster.

Where has all the education gone?: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=




The Case Against Education: What's Taking So Long, Bryan Caplan: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2015/03/the_case_agains_9.html

The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/whats-college-good-for/546590/
Students don't seem to be getting much out of higher education.
- Bryan Caplan

College: Capital or Signal?: http://www.economicmanblog.com/2017/02/25/college-capital-or-signal/
After his review of the literature, Caplan concludes that roughly 80% of the earnings effect from college comes from signalling, with only 20% the result of skill building. Put this together with his earlier observations about the private returns to college education, along with its exploding cost, and Caplan thinks that the social returns are negative. The policy implications of this will come as very bitter medicine for friends of Bernie Sanders.

Doubting the Null Hypothesis: http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/doubting-the-null-hypothesis/

Is higher education/college in the US more about skill-building or about signaling?: https://www.quora.com/Is-higher-education-college-in-the-US-more-about-skill-building-or-about-signaling
ballpark: 50% signaling, 30% selection, 20% addition to human capital
more signaling in art history, more human capital in engineering, more selection in philosophy

Econ Duel! Is Education Signaling or Skill Building?: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/03/econ-duel-is-education-signaling-or-skill-building.html
Marginal Revolution University has a brand new feature, Econ Duel! Our first Econ Duel features Tyler and me debating the question, Is education more about signaling or skill building?

Against Tulip Subsidies: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/06/against-tulip-subsidies/




Most American public school kids are low-income; about half are non-white; most are fairly low skilled academically. For most American kids, the majority of the waking hours they spend not engaged with electronic media are at school; the majority of their in-person relationships are at school; the most important relationships they have with an adult who is not their parent is with their teacher. For their parents, the most important in-person source of community is also their kids’ school. Young people need adult mirrors, models, mentors, and in an earlier era these might have been provided by extended families, but in our own era this all falls upon schools.

Caplan gestures towards work and earlier labor force participation as alternatives to school for many if not all kids. And I empathize: the years that I would point to as making me who I am were ones where I was working, not studying. But they were years spent working in schools, as a teacher or assistant. If schools did not exist, is there an alternative that we genuinely believe would arise to draw young people into the life of their community?


It is not an accident that the state that spends the least on education is Utah, where the LDS church can take up some of the slack for schools, while next door Wyoming spends almost the most of any state at $16,000 per student. Education is now the one surviving binding principle of the society as a whole, the one black box everyone will agree to, and so while you can press for less subsidization of education by government, and for privatization of costs, as Caplan does, there’s really nothing people can substitute for it. This is partially about signaling, sure, but it’s also because outside of schools and a few religious enclaves our society is but a darkling plain beset by winds.

This doesn’t mean that we should leave Caplan’s critique on the shelf. Much of education is focused on an insane, zero-sum race for finite rewards. Much of schooling does push kids, parents, schools, and school systems towards a solution ad absurdum, where anything less than 100 percent of kids headed to a doctorate and the big coding job in the sky is a sign of failure of everyone concerned.

But let’s approach this with an eye towards the limits of the possible and the reality of diminishing returns.

The real reason the left would support Moander: the usual reason. because he’s an enemy.

I have a problem in thinking about education, since my preferences and personal educational experience are atypical, so I can’t just gut it out. On the other hand, knowing that puts me ahead of a lot of people that seem convinced that all real people, including all Arab cabdrivers, think and feel just as they do.

One important fact, relevant to this review. I don’t like Caplan. I think he doesn’t understand – can’t understand – human nature, and although that sometimes confers a different and interesting perspective, it’s not a royal road to truth. Nor would I want to share a foxhole with him: I don’t trust him. So if I say that I agree with some parts of this book, you should believe me.


Caplan doesn’t talk about possible ways of improving knowledge acquisition and retention. Maybe he thinks that’s impossible, and he may be right, at least within a conventional universe of possibilities. That’s a bit outside of his thesis, anyhow. Me it interests.

He dismisses objections from educational psychologists who claim that studying a subject improves you in subtle ways even after you forget all of it. I too find that hard to believe. On the other hand, it looks to me as if poorly-digested fragments of information picked up in college have some effect on public policy later in life: it is no coincidence that most prominent people in public life (at a given moment) share a lot of the same ideas. People are vaguely remembering the same crap from the same sources, or related sources. It’s correlated crap, which has a much stronger effect than random crap.

These widespread new ideas are usually wrong. They come from somewhere – in part, from higher education. Along this line, Caplan thinks that college has only a weak ideological effect on students. I don’t believe he is correct. In part, this is because most people use a shifting standard: what’s liberal or conservative gets redefined over time. At any given time a population is roughly half left and half right – but the content of those labels changes a lot. There’s a shift.

I put it this way, a while ago: “When you think about it, falsehoods, stupid crap, make the best group identifiers, because anyone might agree with you when you’re obviously right. Signing up to clear nonsense is a better test of group loyalty. A true friend is with you when you’re wrong. Ideally, not just wrong, but barking mad, rolling around in your own vomit wrong.”
You just explained the Credo quia absurdum doctrine. I always wondered if it was nonsense. It is not.
Someone on twitter caught it first – got all the way to “sliding down the razor blade of life”. Which I explained is now called “transitioning”

What Catholics believe: https://theweek.com/articles/781925/what-catholics-believe
We believe all of these things, fantastical as they may sound, and we believe them for what we consider good reasons, well attested by history, consistent with the most exacting standards of logic. We will profess them in this place of wrath and tears until the extraordinary event referenced above, for which men and women have hoped and prayed for nearly 2,000 years, comes to pass.

According to Caplan, employers are looking for conformity, conscientiousness, and intelligence. They use completion of high school, or completion of college as a sign of conformity and conscientiousness. College certainly looks as if it’s mostly signaling, and it’s hugely expensive signaling, in terms of college costs and foregone earnings.

But inserting conformity into the merit function is tricky: things become important signals… because they’re important signals. Otherwise useful actions are contraindicated because they’re “not done”. For example, test scores convey useful information. They could help show that an applicant is smart even though he attended a mediocre school – the same role they play in college admissions. But employers seldom request test scores, and although applicants may provide them, few do. Caplan says ” The word on the street… [more]
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Garett Jones on Twitter: "Timocracy, epistocracy, and other governance mechanisms should all be candidly considered as alternatives to the universal franchise. https://t.co/prHLBDjtqB"


Look, the solution here is a Mormon theocratic state.
Theodemocracy deserves further exploration


The three men who now lead the LDS church include a prominent heart surgeon, a former state supreme court justice (and U of Chicago professor), and a former Stanford business professor, trained at HBS.

Tax credits for converting to the LDS faith, that's my non-ironic platform, don't @ me
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april 2017 by nhaliday
I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means – spottedtoad
Clearly, there’s a “How a Bill Becomes a Law” quality about all of this; now that Congress is more-or-less a vestigial organ of government and almost all policymaking is done by the Executive Branch, contained intermittently by the courts, carried out by contractors, and acting on plans conceived largely by think tanks and academia, how much democratic accountability do we even expect?

There’s something irritating as well, of course, about newspapers acquiring breathless naivete about the influence of institutions they’ve spent decades decrying. Much like the “new-found respect” for the CIA or for George W. Bush, it leads one to suspect that either they are the world’s worst liars, or as Obama’s adviser Ben Rhodes bragged to the Times last year, “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Voter Fraud a Myth? That’s Not What New York Investigators Found - WSJ
A: not possible to know, but voter fraud definitely exists and at non-negligible percentages


This study argues Voter ID laws racist- but shows they don't reduce black general elec turnout, only Asian/Hispanic


Ethnicity and electoral fraud in Britain: http://sci-hub.tw/http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261379417300811
- Noah Carl
Using data at the local authority level, this paper shows that percentage Pakistani and Bangladeshi (logged) is a robust predictor of two measures of electoral fraud allegations: one based on designations by the Electoral Commission, and one based on police enquiries. Indeed, the association persists after controlling for other minority shares, demographic characteristics, socio-economic deprivation, and anti-immigration attitudes. I interpret this finding with reference to the growing literature on consanguinity (cousin marriage) and corruption. Rates of cousin marriage tend to be high in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, which may have fostered norms of nepotism and in-group favoritism that persist over time. To bolster my interpretation, I use individual level survey data to show that, within Europe, migrants from countries with high rates of cousin marriage are more likely to say that family should be one's main priority in life, and are less likely to say it is wrong for a public official to request a bribe.

Pennsylvania finds 544 possibly illegal ballots since 2000: https://apnews.com/64ac234e5fad44d096b3e8209b14ff3b
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Surprising Popularity
This week Nature published some empirical data on a surprising-popularity consensus mechanism (a previously published mechanism, e.g., Science in 2004, with variations going by the name “Bayesian Truth Serum”). The idea is to ask people to pick from several options, and also to have each person forecast the distribution of opinion among others. The options that are picked surprisingly often, compared to what participants expected, are suggested as more likely true, and those who pick such options as better informed.



different one: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/20/5077.full.pdf
We show that market-based incentive systems produce herding effects, reduce information available to the group, and restrain collective intelligence. Therefore, we propose an incentive scheme that rewards accurate minority predictions and show that this produces optimal diversity and collective predictive accuracy. We conclude that real world systems should reward those who have shown accuracy when the majority opinion has been in error.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Would Clinton have defeated Trump in an epistocracy? | We the Pleeple
Next on the chart are the various epistocratic scenarios. What if we give especially low-knowledge voters only half a vote, or only a third, or bar them completely? What if we use a graduated more-votes-for-more-knowledge system? What if we give especially high-knowledge voters an extra vote, or two, or take epistocracy literally and allow only these high-knowledge folks to vote?

Do any of these proposals improve Clinton’s popular vote margin over Trump? No. In fact, each one would have given Trump a popular vote lead, anywhere from 0.5 points (giving high-knowledge folks a single extra vote) to 4.3 points (letting only high-knowledge folks vote). In an epistocracy of the sort Brennan and others imagine, Trump’s victory over Clinton would have been even more securely won.

contrary update:
ACTUALLY, EPISTOCRACY MIGHT HAVE HELPED CLINTON DEFEAT TRUMP: http://www.pleeps.org/2017/04/11/actually-epistocracy-might-have-helped-clinton-defeat-trump/
But she probably would have been running against President Romney, and might have still lost.

Were Trump Voters Irrational?: http://quillette.com/2017/09/28/trump-voters-irrational/
In addition to being misplaced, leftists never seem to see how insulting this critique of Republican voters is. Their failure to see the insult illustrates precisely what they get wrong in evaluating the rationality of the Trump voters. Consider that these What’s the Matter with Kansas? critiques are written by highly educated left-wing pundits, professors, and advocates. Perhaps we should ask one of them whether their own vote is purely self-interested and for their own monetary benefit. They will say no, of course. And they will deny as well that their vote is irrational. Progressives will say that they often vote against their own monetary interests in order to do good for other people. Or they will say that their vote reflects their values and worldview—that they are concerned about the larger issues that are encompassed by that worldview (abortion legislation or climate change or gun restriction). Leftists seem unable to see that Republican voters—even lower income ones—may be just as attached to their own values and worldviews. The stance of the educated progressive making the What’s the Matter with Kansas? argument seems to be that: “no one else should vote against their monetary interests, but it’s not irrational for me to do so, because I am enlightened.”


Progressives tend to deny or obfuscate (just as conservatives obfuscate the research on global warming) the data indicating that single-parent households lead to more behavioral problems among children. Overwhelmingly progressive university schools of education deny the strong scientific consensus that phonics-based reading instruction facilitates most readers, especially those struggling the most. Many progressives find it hard to believe that there is no bias at all in the initial hiring of women for tenure-track university positions in STEM disciplines. Progressives tend to deny the consensus view that genetically modified organisms are safe to consume. Gender feminists routinely deny biological facts about sex differences. Largely Democratic cities and university towns are at the forefront of the anti-vaccine movement which denies a scientific consensus. In the same cities and towns, people find it hard to believe that there is a strong consensus among economists that rent control causes housing shortages and a diminution in the quality of housing. [Research citations for all the above are available from the author here.]


More formal studies have indicated that there are few differences in factual knowledge of the world between Republicans and Democrats. The Pew Research Center reported one of its News IQ surveys in 2015 (What the Public Knows, April 28, 2015) and found very few partisan differences. People in the sample answered 12 questions about current events (identifying the route of the Keystone XL pipeline; knowledge of how many Supreme Court justices are women; etc.) and the Republicans outperformed the Democrats on 7 of the 12 items. Democrats outperformed the Republicans on 5 of the items. On average, the Republicans in the sample answered 8.3 items correctly, the Democrats answered 7.9 items correctly, and the independents answered 8.0 items correctly.


Measures of so-called “knowledge” in such a domain are easily skewed in a partisan manner by selection effects. This is a version of the “party of science” problem discussed previously. Whether the Democrats or the Republicans are the “party of science” depends entirely on how the issue in question is selected. The 17-item measure used by Klein was relatively balanced (8 items biased against leftists and 9 items biased against conservatives). With all the caveats in place about the difficulty of item matching, the weak conclusion that can be drawn is that existing research provides no evidence for the view that conservatives are deficient in the domain of economic knowledge—a domain critical for rational voting behavior.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Exploring Elitist Democracy: The Latest from Gilens and Page, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
First, middle-class Americans' preferences are highly correlated with rich Americans' preferences - but not interest groups' preferences:

It turns out, in fact, that the preferences of average citizens are positively and fairly highly correlated, across issues, with the preferences of economic elites (see Table 2.) Rather often, average citizens and affluent citizens (our proxy for economic elites) want the same things from government. This bivariate correlation affects how we should interpret our later multivariate findings in terms of "winners" and "losers." It also suggests a reason why serious scholars might keep adhering to both the Majoritarian Electoral Democracy and the Economic Elite Domination theoretical traditions, even if one of them may be dead wrong in terms of causal impact. Ordinary citizens, for example, might often be observed to "win" (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail.

But net interest group stands are not substantially correlated with the preferences of average citizens. Taking all interest groups together, the index of net interest group alignment correlates only a non-significant .04 with average citizens' preferences! (See Table 2.) This casts grave doubt on David Truman's and others' argument that organized interest groups tend to do a good job of representing the population as a whole. Indeed, as Table 2 indicates, even the net alignments of the groups we have categorized as "mass-based" correlate with average citizens' preferences only at the very modest (though statistically significant) level of .12.

Second, each theory looks good in isolation:

When taken separately, each independent variable - the preferences of average citizens, the preferences of economic elites, and the net alignments of organized interest groups - is strongly, positively, and quite significantly related to policy change. Little wonder that each theoretical tradition has its strong adherents.

Third, average citizens lose almost all apparent influence if you do multiple regression:

These results suggest that reality is best captured by mixed theories in which both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Mechanism Design in the Venetian Republic | The Ümlaut
On the morning after a Doge’s death the members of the “Maggior Consiglio,” the council representing the freemen of the city, convened to first select by lot 30 of its members older than 30 years, who were designated as “electors.” But if—perhaps by analogy to the U.S. Electoral College—you think that the 30 then simply elected the Doge, you’re mistaken.

Those 30 were reduced to 9 by lot. The 9 then designated a group of 40, each of whom needed 7 approval votes out of the 9 members of the committee. Back in the hall, with the entire Maggior Consiglio present, these 40 would be reduced by lot to 12. As before, the 12 would nominate 25 names, subject to approval by 9 members of the committee. In the hall, these 25 would be reduced to 9. In turn, the 9 nominated 5 names each, commanding the support of at least 7 members of the group. Those 45 would be reduced by lot to 11, and then nominate the 41 true electors of the Doge.

Only then would the real election begin. The 41 were kept isolated in the ducal palace until the Doge was elected. Each member of the “Quarantuno” could nominate a candidate. In the early years, a name would be picked at random, and a yes/no vote would be held. This would be repeated until a candidate was found who had the support of 25 members. Later on, this sequential procedure was changed to simultaneous approval vote, where each member of the Quarantuno votes yes or no on each of the nominated candidates. The candidate with the highest number of votes would be elected as the new Doge, provided that he had the attained at least 25 yes votes.

The complex voting and randomization procedure was connected to a broader set of rules curbing electoral patronage, corruption, and factions.
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Trump, Political Innovator
Many have expressed great anxiety about Trump’s win, saying that he is is bad overall because he induces greater global and domestic uncertainly. In their mind, this includes a higher chances of wars, coups, riots, collapse of democracy, and so on. But overall these seem to be generic consequences of political innovation. Innovation in general is disruptive and costly in the short run, but can aide adaptation in the long run.

So you can dislike Trump for two very different reasons, First, you can dislike innovation on the other side of the political spectrum, as you see that coming at the expense of your side. Or, or you can dislike political innovation in general. But if innovation is the process of adapting to changing conditions, it must be mostly a question of when, not if. And less frequent innovations are probably bigger changes, which is probably more disruptive overall.

So what you should really be asking is: what were the obstacles to smaller past innovations in Trump’s new direction? And how can we reduce such obstacles?

In a repeated game, where the same people play the same game over and over, cooperation can more easily arise than in a one-shot version of the game, where such people play only once and then never interact again. This sort of cooperation gets easier the more that players care about the many future iterations of the game, compared to the current iteration.

When a group repeats the same game, but some iterations count much more than others, then defection from cooperation is most likely at a big “endgame” iteration.

past and future contextualize present
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Post-deadline diversion: Election predictions | Windows On Theory
A priori predicting the result of the election seems like an unglamorous and straighforward exercise: you ask n people for their opinions x_1,\ldots,x_n whether they prefer candidate 0 or candidate 1, and you predict that the result will be the majority opinion, with probability that is about 1-\exp(-|\sum x_i - n/2|^2/n). This means that if two candidates are at least 2 percent apart, then you should get extremely high confidence if you ask some constant factor times 2,500 people.

Yet somehow, different analysts looking at the polls come up with very different numbers for the probability that Trump will win. [...]

There are several reasons for this discrepancy, including the fact that the U.S. election is not won based on popular vote (though they almost always agree), that we need to estimate the fraction among actual voters as opposed to the general population, that polls could have systematic errors, and of course there is genuine uncertainty in the sense that some people might change their minds.

But at least one of the reasons seems to come up from a problem that TCS folks are familiar with, and arises in the context of rounding algorithms for convex optimization, which is to understand higher level correlations.
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : How To Vote
So, as a professor of economics who has studied politics, my advice is to not vote if you know an average amount or less, to copy a better informed close associate if you are willing to appear submissive, and otherwise to just reelect incumbents when your life goes better than you expected. And if you care a lot more about the outcome than most do, help create presidential decision markets, so other info-seekers will have a better place to turn.
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october 2016 by nhaliday
political analysis | West Hunter
Just to make things clear, most political reporters are morons, nearly as bad as sports reporters. Mostly ugly cheerleaders for their side, rather than analysts. Uninteresting.

how to analyze polls:

Who ever is ahead in the polls at the time of election is extremely likely to win. Talk about how Candidate X would have a ‘difficult path to 270 electoral votes’ when he’s up 2 points (for example), is pretty much horseshit. There are second-order considerations: you get more oomph per voter when the voter is in a small state, and you also want your votes distributed fairly evenly, so that you win states giving you a majority of electoral votes by a little rather than winning states giving you a minority of electoral votes by huge margins. Not that a candidate can do much about this, of course.

When you hear someone say that it’s really 50 state contests [ more if you think about Maine and Nebraska] , so you should pay attention to the state polls, not the national polls: also horseshit. In some sense, it is true – but when your national polls go up, so do your state polls – almost all of them, in practice. On election day, or just before, you want to consider national polls rather than state polls, because they are almost always more recent, therefore more accurate.

When should you trust an outlier poll, rather than the average: when you want to be wrong.

Money doesn’t help much. Political consultants will tell you that it does, but then they get 15% of ad buys.

A decent political reporter would actually go out and talk to people that aren’t exactly like him. Apparently this no longer happens.

All of these rules have exceptions – but if you understand those [rare] exceptions and can apply them, you’re paying too much attention to politics.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
Democracy does not cause growth | Brookings Institution
64-page paper
Democracy & Growth: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4909
The favorable effects on growth include maintenance of the rule of law, free markets, small government consumption, and high human capital. Once these kinds of variables and the initial level of real per-capita GDP are held constant, the overall effect of democracy on growth is weakly negative. There is a suggestion of a nonlinear relationship in which democracy enhances growth at low levels of political freedom but depresses growth when a moderate level of freedom has already been attained.

The growth effect of democracy: Is it heterogenous and how can it be estimated∗: http://perseus.iies.su.se/~tpers/papers/cifar_paper_may16_07.pdf
In particular, we find an average negative effect on growth of leaving democracy on the order of −2 percentage points implying effects on income per capita as large as 45 percent over the 1960-2000 panel. Heterogenous characteristics of reforming and non-reforming countries appear to play an important role in driving these results.

Does democracy cause innovation? An empirical test of the popper hypothesis: http://www.sciencedirect.com.sci-hub.cc/science/article/pii/S0048733317300975
The results from the difference-in-differences method show that democracy itself has no direct positive effect on innovation measured with patent counts, patent citations and patent originality.

Benevolent Autocrats: https://williameasterly.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/benevolent-autocrats-easterly-draft.pdf
A large literature attributes this to the higher variance of growth rates under autocracy than under democracy. The literature offers alternative explanations for this stylized fact: (1) leaders don’t matter under democracy, but good and bad leaders under autocracy cause high and low growth, (2) leaders don’t matter under autocracy either, but good and bad autocratic systems cause greater extremes of high and low growth, or (3) democracy does better than autocracy at reducing variance from shocks from outside the political system. This paper details further the stylized facts to test these distinctions. Inconsistent with (1), the variance of growth within the terms of leaders swamps the variance across leaders, and more so under autocracy than under democracy. Country effects under autocracy are also overwhelmed by within-country variance, inconsistent with (2). Explanation (3) fits the stylized facts the best of the three alternatives.

Political Institutions, Size of Government and Redistribution: An empirical investigation: http://www.lse.ac.uk/internationalDevelopment/pdf/WP/WP89.pdf
Results show that the stronger democratic institutions are, the lower is government size and the higher the redistributional capacity of the state. Political competition exercises the strongest and most robust effect on the two variables.

Fits the high-variance theory of autocracies:
More miracles, more disasters. And there's a lot of demand for miracles.

Measuring the ups and downs of governance: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2017/09/22/measuring-the-ups-and-downs-of-governance/
Figure 2: Voice and Accountability and Government Effectiveness, 2016
Georgia, Japan, Rwanda, and Serbia ↑ Gov Effectiveness; Indonesia, Tunisia, Liberia, Serbia, and Nigeria ↑ Voice and Accountability.

The logic of hereditary rule: theory and evidence: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/69615/
Hereditary leadership has been an important feature of the political landscape throughout history. This paper argues that hereditary leadership is like a relational contract which improves policy incentives. We assemble a unique dataset on leaders between 1874 and 2004 in which we classify them as hereditary leaders based on their family history. The core empirical finding is that economic growth is higher in polities with hereditary leaders but only if executive constraints are weak. Moreover, this holds across of a range of specifications. The finding is also mirrored in policy outcomes which affect growth. In addition, we find that hereditary leadership is more likely to come to an end when the growth performance under the incumbent leader is poor.

I noted this when the paper was a working paper, but non-hereditary polities with strong contraints have higher growth rates.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
Perspectives on Politics - Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens - Cambridge Journals Online
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

I think this is the classic study that people usually cite
policy  class  politics  economics  government  study  data  political-econ  polisci  realpolitik  gilens-page  power  🎩  stylized-facts  causation  optimate  variance-components  social-structure  democracy  roots  managerial-state  social-choice  coalitions  madisonian  chart  vampire-squid  antidemos  exit-voice  volo-avolo  interests 
february 2016 by nhaliday
Accounting for the Rise in College Tuition
Student Loan Subsidies Cause Almost All of the Increase in Tuition: https://fee.org/articles/student-loan-subsidies-cause-almost-all-of-the-increase-in-tuition/
by Alex Tabarrok

The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/the-real-reason-college-tuition-costs-so-much.html
In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.

College Inefficiency: http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/college-inefficiency/
Higher education in America is a classic case in which public policy seeks to subsidize demand while restricting supply. Just as in the case of housing, the subsidies largely serve to drive up prices. And as Alex Tabarrok points out,

Prices aren’t rising because costs are rising, however, costs are rising because prices are rising.
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february 2016 by nhaliday

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