Author Archive | Lee Sigelman

Politics everywhere: The art on a restaurant’s wall causes indigestion in one customer

Short story shorter: Andy Shallal runs some DC-area eateries. Bradley Blakeman loves Shallal’s pizza. One recent night while dining at the Shirlington branch, Blakeman looks up from his deliciious thin-crust pizza and what does he espy on the restaurant’s wall? Among other things, posters of Che Guevara and Lenin. Blakeman e-mails Shallal to object and urge Shallal to remove the offending posters. Shallal e-mails back, refusing to do so. Blakeman vows never to return. He’ll be eating his pizza elsewhere from now on. Let me suggest that political scientists consider employing the Pizza Tradeoff Test (PTT) as a true measure of ideological commitment. Someone who is willing to forsake a really tasty slice in deference to his political beliefs definitely qualifies. But what about Andy Shallal? He’s a true believer, too, but perhaps the PTT wouldn’t work so well for him, as he’s presumably gotten a little tired of eating pizza by now.

Anyway, as a service to Bradley Blakeman, here are some suggestions for other pizza joints to check out.

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Quote of the day — Bonus edition

Thou shalt not commit a Social Science.—W. H. Auden

Want more? Okay, here are some others, all collected or concocted by the irrepressible A Wuffle. If you like this sort of thing, then stay tuned for the soon-to-be-released Wit and Humor of Political Science (Sigelman, Newton, Meier, and Grofman, eds., which is slated for publication in January):

God gave all the easy problems to the physicists. – James March
In the social sciences, waiting for Newton is like waiting for Godot.—Lee Cronbach and Philip Converse
To avoid the problem of scientific validity, three strategies are commonly followed in the social sciences: (a) eschewing falsifiable statements; (b) denying the possibility of objective truth, and© writing in French or German. The combination of these three strategies has been shown to be virtually irresistible, even to strong minds. Statements which on the face of it are unintelligible gibberish can always be blamed on a bad translation.—A Wuffle
An economist is one who observes something that works in practice and wonders if it will work in theory.—As told to Bernard Nelson by Victor Fuchs
If you put all the economists in the country end to end, they’d still point in different directions.—Harry S. Truman
The Economist’s Motto: To err is human, to be paid for it divine.—Victor Fuchs
Those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat History 101.—Anon.
I dropped out of American Studies after the first exam, when I found out that the correct answer to all four questions was “hegemony.”—Emily Polsby
If you can understand an article in the APSR then something must have gone wrong in the refereeing process. – A Wuffle
Sociology is the branch of science with the most methods and the least results. – Henri Poincare, circa 190910
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The impact of negative campaigning — 2009 version

From Josh Marshall over at TPM:

The reason negative campaigns often lose isn’t necessarily because people don’t like negativity. It’s because you usually get into running a negative campaign because that’s the last card you’ve got to play. McDonnell could run a feel good campaign because he was kicking Deeds butt pretty much the whole way. Conversely, Corzine didn’t lose because he ran a negative campaign. He ran a negative campaign because he was incredibly unpopular with New Jersey voters. And making Christie equally unpopular was really his only path to victory. This is elementary.

This is so elementary that even I agree. In Virginia, Deeds, the trailer, did what a trailer should do: try to move undecideds and McDonnell supporters toward himself. Lacking a charismatic personality or a set of compelling policy appeals, his only resort was to attack, attack, attack. He shot his big gun—McDonnell’s M.A. thesis—early and often, and then he had nothing left that could have caught him up. Meanwhile, McDonnell, as the clear front-runner, was able to do what a front-runner should do: wage a more positive campaign that emphasizes his appealing personal qualities. The McDonnell campaign’s response to Deeds’ relentless attacks was, I thought, masterfully done—especiallyt an ad that featured glowing testimonials from several women who had worked with McDonnell when he was attorney general of Virginia.

The elementary point restated: It’s not so much that attackers lose as that losers attack.

[Hat tip to Henry]

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Quote of the day

If you follow reason far enough it always leads to conclusions that are contrary to reason.

bq.—Samuel Butler (apparently not an advocate of the rational choice perspective)

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Quote of the day

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I just really don’t know.

That’s Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), on his health plan’s chances of passing, quoted in the New York Times (November 1, 2009).

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Quote of the day

A conservative is a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal who wishes to replace them with others. (Ambrose Bierce, American journalist)
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Quote of the day

There are two periods when Congress does no business: one is before the holidays, and the other after. (George Miller, nineteenth-century American journalist)
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