Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University. He has received the Outstanding Statistical Application award from the American Statistical Association, the award for best article published in the American Political Science Review, and the Council of Presidents of Statistical Societies award for outstanding contributions by a person under the age of 40.

Recent Articles

Military officers have different opinions than enlisted personnel

Josh asks about political opinions of U.S. military personnel. Jason Dempsey and Bob Shapiro have done some work on this. Here’s Dempsey’s website , and here’s something he wrote a few years ago that’s relevant to the discussion: The Military Times released the results of a survey showing that members of the armed services planned to vote for John McCain over Barack Obama by a factor of nearly three to one–this at a time when the Democratic nominee was handily beating his Republican rival in almost all national polls. The survey apparently reaffirmed the long-held conventional wisdom that the U.S. military overwhelmingly backs the GOP . . . . The truth about the military’s politics, however, is more complex and all too often obscured by narrowly focused polling. Participants in the Military Times survey, for example, tended to be white, older, and more senior in rank–that is, they were hardly a representative sampling of the armed services. . . . In a study of the Army that I [Dempsey...

Don't Pull a Tucker Carlson

Charles Murray wrote a much-discussed new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 . David Frum quotes Murray as writing, in an echo of now-forgotten TV personality Tucker Carlson , that the top 5 percent of incomes “tends to be liberal—right? There’s no getting around it. Every way of answering this question produces a yes.” Frum does me the favor of citing Red State Blue State as evidence, and I’d like to back this up with some graphs. Frum writes: Say “top 5 percent” to Murray, and his imagination conjures up everything he dislikes: coastal liberals listening to NPR in their Lexus hybrid SUVs. He sees that image so intensely that no mere number can force him to remember that the top 5 percent also includes the evangelical Christian assistant coach of a state university football team. . . . To put it in graphical terms: Further discussion and more graphs here .

George W. Bush 2012?

OK, not really. But NYT colleague Brooks does write : In sum, great presidents are often aristocrats and experienced political insiders. They experience great setbacks. They feel the presence of God’s hand on their every move. That describes George W. Bush pretty well, I think. This is not to say that Brooks’s ideas here are wrong, but it might help to acknowledge that just a few years ago we had a president with all these qualities. Brooks also writes, “we’re not allowed to talk about these things openly these days.” I don’t know what he means, since he just talked about them! His sentence seems like one of those logical paradoxes along the lines of, “This sentence does not mention an elephant.” Just to be clear: my point here is not to pick on Brooks, it’s more to demonstrate the gap between the quals and the quants . Statisticians such as myself see sweeping statements and immediately think, “Yeah? Really? Why do you say that?," while journalists such as David Brooks or Samantha...

The Politics of Eyeliner

Good catch by Leslie Savan: Here’s how the New York Post’s Andrea Peyser began a column (“Jobless & Shameless Gal Going for Gold”) on one of the women charging Herman Cain with sexual harassment: Gold diggers—unite! Sharon Bialek is 50, out of work and, according to one who knows her, she’s a smooth operator living way above her means. From the look of her heavily painted face, she’s also soon to be in acute need of a new tub of eyeliner. Rush Limbaugh echoed the line along with all the other bile he’s been splurting at Cain’s accusers, referring to Bialek as “the woman who wears makeup by the tub.” The makeup slam is odd, and not only because Bialek doesn’t appear to be wearing more of it than many women on TV. During the 1991 Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings (which inspired a pro-Cain ad to declare him the victim of another “high-tech lynching”), the right’s take on female makeup was: the more the better! Former Reagan and Bush I speechwriter Peggy Noonan had determined that...

Is “Academically Adrift” statistically adrift?

Jacob Felson points me to this discussion by Alexander Astin of a recent book on college education: The implications of the study recently released with the book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, have been portrayed . . . in apocalyptic terms: “extremely devastating in what it says about American higher education today” . . . The principal finding giving rise to such opinions is the claim that 45 percent of the more than 2,000 students tested in the study failed to show significant gains in reasoning and writing skills during their freshman and sophomore years. Astin continues: It is not my custom to offer technical critiques of other researchers’ work in a public forum, but the fact that this 45-percent conclusion is well on its way to becoming part of the folklore about American higher education prompts me to write. . . . The method used to determine whether a student’s sophomore score was “significantly” better than his or...