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

Irregularities in Russian election?

See here . (Run it through Google translate if, like me, you don’t know any Russian.) I don’t know anything here, will defer to the experts on this one.

Everybody hates Jon

Conservatives hate him because he’s a liberal Democrat, liberals hate him because he’s a Wall Street leech . The funny thing is, if Corzine had stayed on in the Senate, he’d probably be an extremely well-respected figure, deferred to by his colleagues and the press as an expert on how to fix the financial mess. Corzine’s decision to leave Congress was a (retrospectively) terrible, terrible decision.

Voter decision making with third party candidates

Jonathan Livengood writes: I was reading a couple of your papers on voting ( http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/published/rational_final6.pdf and http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/published/probdecisive2.pdf ), and I wondered whether the results apply when people vote for third-party candidates. In part, I was wondering what it would mean in your model for a third-party vote to be decisive. Is it rational (and under what conditions) to vote for a third-party candidate? Since we are paying attention to some degree to what people say about their voting habits, I wonder what sense to make of the typical argument against voting for a third party. Namely: If I vote for a third-party, then I am voting against the two-party candidate that better represents my political views. If that candidate loses , then I will be responsible, since I would have voted for that person had I not voted for a third-party candidate. Are people making a reasonable argument here or are they...

Lamentably common misunderstanding of meritocracy

Tyler Cowen pointed to an article by business-school professor Luigi Zingales about meritocracy. I’d expect a b-school prof to support the idea of meritocracy, and Zingales does not disappoint. But he says a bunch of other things that to me represent a confused conflation of ideas. Here’s Zingales: America became known as a land of opportunity—a place whose capitalist system benefited the hardworking and the virtuous [emphasis added]. In a word, it was a meritocracy. That’s interesting—-and revealing. Here’s what I get when I look up “meritocracy” in the dictionary : 1 : a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement 2 : leadership selected on the basis of intellectual criteria Nothing here about “hardworking” or “virtuous.” In a meritocracy, you can be as hardworking as John Kruk or as virtuous as Kobe Bryant and you’ll still get ahead—-if you have the talent and achievement. Throwing in “hardworking” and “virtuous” seems to me to an...

No no no no no

I enjoy the London Review of Books but I’m not a fan of their policy of hiring English people to write about U.S. politics. In theory it could work just fine but in practice there seem to be problems. Recall the notorious line from a couple years ago, “But viewed in retrospect, it is clear that it has been quite predictable.” More recently I noticed this , from John Lanchester: Republicans, egged on by their newly empowered Tea Party wing, didn’t take the deal, and forced the debate on raising the debt ceiling right to the edge of an unprecedented and globally catastrophic US default. The process ended with surrender on the part of President Obama and the Democrats. There is near unanimity among economists that the proposals in the agreed package will at best make recovery from the recession more difficult, and at worst may trigger a second, even more severe downturn. The disturbing thing about the whole process wasn’t so much that the Tea Partiers were irrational as that they were...