Friday, February 15, 2008

Methodology/Theory Debates Old

691 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are asking me to defend a operationalization that I would never endorse. Such an index would be a bad idea in my opinion. Trying to score and then sum these things tells us nothing in my opinion.

I am not asking you to endorse anything. Instead, I am asking you to explain the analytical value of an intellectual exercise you, yourself, proposed. You wrote: I would propose a vector of indicator variables for the important determinants of democracy you mentioned. It is straight forward to take the qualitative story you told and turn it into a quantitative one. I have to ask if it is such a "bad idea" (as you now say), why did you propose it?

You not only denounce your own suggestion, you somehow attribute your suggestion to me and attack me for doing so. You wrote: This is just another example of how you have built a strawman up in your mind of how ludicrous some quant method is.

The trouble is that as we have often tried to tell you these strawmen examples are convincing to you because you lack even the most basic training in these methods.

Thus, according to you, I cannot understand how bad your (in you mind my) example is because I lack training. You conclude with the suggestion that I am so ignorant of quant methods that I cannot comprehend the flaws in my thinking: If you had such training you would realize that many of the concerns you have are well understood and addressed by the methods.

I presume that my ignorance is so profound that you cannot detail them in the venue of a blog. So much for the transparency of quant methods.

5/16/2008 5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead, I am asking you to explain the analytical value of an intellectual exercise you, yourself, proposed.

False, and we can stop right here. No one proposed this. No one proposed the sloppy operationalization of democracy that you mentioned, and this is why no one defends it.

Do you know what an indicator variable is?

5/16/2008 5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A quant wrote this:

I would propose a vector of indicator variables for the important determinants of democracy you mentioned. It is straight forward to take the qualitative story you told and turn it into a quantitative one.

5/16/2008 5:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would propose a vector of indicator variables for the important determinants of democracy you mentioned. It is straight forward to take the qualitative story you told and turn it into a quantitative one.

That's not the same as what you proposed: "first example...a numerical value of 6, and the latter example (Iran) a value of 8". Again, do you know what an indicator variable is?

You would be well-advised to focus on reading comprehension and basic numeracy.

5/16/2008 6:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You would be well-advised to focus on reading comprehension and basic numeracy.

Ain't that the truth.

FYI ILP, even Koko the gorilla understands how to operationalize variables:

http://tinyurl.com/6bhh4h

5/16/2008 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second 6:09's point. It seems hard to fathom how one can criticize quantiative techniques without knowing basic elements of variable coding. Moreover, these basic coding techniques are used in *qualitative* analyses too. Maybe the poster in question doesn't know the first thing about either.

5/16/2008 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's not the same as what you proposed

Okay, so respond to what the quant poster proposed:

I would propose a vector of indicator variables for the important determinants of democracy you mentioned. It is straight forward to take the qualitative story you told and turn it into a quantitative one.

5/16/2008 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP, you have just recognized that you were wrong in two posts (5/16/2008 5:20 AM, 5:48 AM).

What is your explanation for this failure? Is it due to a basic lack of comprehension of research methods, or to willful deception? If neither, then what?

5/16/2008 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP, you have just recognized that you were wrong in two posts (5/16/2008 5:20 AM, 5:48 AM).

How did I do that?

5/16/2008 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, so respond to what the quant poster proposed:

I would propose a vector of indicator variables for the important determinants of democracy you mentioned. It is straight forward to take the qualitative story you told and turn it into a quantitative one.

Well I guess I need to know what your criticism is of this technique is before I can defend it. I know why you did not like the "democracy index" you proposed as an example. Why do you not like my vector of indicator variables? I am just taking the stories you told about the two countries and putting it into mathematical language.

In fact I would probably not use all indicator variables because some of the things you mentioned are continuous things that are comparable across cases so we coudl just use the value.

The point is that the two stories about the differing democratic countries is easily turned into a quantatative story.

5/16/2008 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did I do that?

Well, read your own posts. In response to

"That's not the same as what you proposed"

you wrote

"Okay, so respond to what the quant poster proposed."

after having written

"Instead, I am asking you to explain the analytical value of an intellectual exercise you, yourself, proposed."


Don't stall. What is your explanation for this failure? Is it due to a basic lack of comprehension of research methods, or to willful deception? If neither, then what?

5/16/2008 6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is your explanation for this failure?

I am uncertain why you consider these comments to be admissions of failure.

5/16/2008 7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am uncertain why you consider these comments to be admissions of failure.

Oh George, I do love it when you claim ignorance to save yourself from recognizing that you're ignorant.

5/16/2008 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is that the two stories about the differing democratic countries is easily turned into a quantitative story.

That is not in dispute. I, myself, turned Iranian and U.S. democratic practices into a quantitative story. The question that was posed is: what is the analytical value of turning a qualitative story into a quantitative story.

5/16/2008 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is the analytical value of turning a qualitative story into a quantitative story.

A pathetically transparant ruse to disguise your ignorance.

The issue of why one should (in general) use quant methods has been covered in the last 1800 posts.

There seems to be little point attempting to explain further since you are literally incapable of (or unwilling to attempt) understanding of the issues.

This is particularly worrying since you claim to have some (minor) position of authority in the training of students, yet your knowledge and comprehension is less than that of my undergraduate students, and apparantly, not yet approaching that of a (talented) gorilla.

5/16/2008 7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am uncertain why you consider these comments to be admissions of failure.


Well, you failed to represent the poster's points correctly. Failure.

So stop stalling. What is your explanation for this failure? Is it due to a basic lack of comprehension of research methods, or to willful deception? If neither, then what?

5/16/2008 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue of why one should (in general) use quant methods has been covered in the last 1800 posts.

The only point I recall on this issue is the acknowledgment that in the social sciences quant methods are not measuring/uncovering laws of political/social behavior. Once that is conceded it becomes evident that the application of statistical techniques to human behavior in most cases is a misguided endeavor that leads to analytically dubious conclusions.

5/16/2008 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you failed to represent the poster's points correctly

I do not see that.

5/16/2008 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only point I recall on this issue is the acknowledgment that in the social sciences quant methods are not measuring/uncovering laws of political/social behavior.

You have recall problems too?

You should get checked for frontal lobe damage: that might also explain your inability to comprehend and communicate.

5/16/2008 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not see that.

See 5/16/2008 6:59 AM.

Stop stalling.

5/16/2008 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have recall problems too?

You should get checked for frontal lobe damage


Let's assume I do have brain damage. Have pity on me, and indulge me with two explanations invoked on this blog to justify the utilization quant analytical methods in political science.

5/16/2008 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point is that the two stories about the differing democratic countries is easily turned into a quantitative story.

That is not in dispute. I, myself, turned Iranian and U.S. democratic practices into a quantitative story. The question that was posed is: what is the analytical value of turning a qualitative story into a quantitative story.

You see this is an example of why people are getting so exasperated with you. Our little part of the discussion began when you said that concepts like democracy could not be translated into math. I said that if you gave me a definition and an example I would turn it into math for you. Then you gave me an example with a bad example of how to turn it into math. I told you it was a bad example. Then you demanded I defend that bad example. When I said I would not but provided a good example of how to do it you suddenly SWITCHED the topic. Now you say it is obvious that you can express democracy mathematically (if fact you can even do it) and now want me to address the utility of such operationalizations.

Thats a fine question. But notice you started out asserting that there was no mathematical way of expressing democracy, and ended by saying it was trivial to do it.

You do this sort of thing all the time and I am kinda tired of it. Also your willful misreading of people comments and attributing arguments to them that they never made is fundamentally dishonest. Sure it may happen accidentally from time to time but you do these things often. Frankly it befuddles most of us and adds confusion to your argument.

Someone earlier said you argue like someone with OCD or on the autism spectrum (I know of what I speak because I am too).

I guess I am not gonna roll along and explain the utility of the operationalization I proposed. You would not be able to understand it and given that you would attack it on some misinformed grounds or pivot the topic mid-conversation.

I got paper to write man and don;t have time.

But if you do want to be a critic of these methods who is taken seriously then you need to learn the methods. That way your trival strawmen examples won't allow people to dismiss you out of hand as an ignorant kook.

p.s. If you are not George A Gonzalez I will eat my hat.

5/16/2008 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:58 AM--- that, my friend, is a fantastic post.

Logical, calm, precise, on topic.

George: have a read, have a think.

5/16/2008 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our little part of the discussion began when you said that concepts like democracy could not be translated into math.

What actually initiated this discussion is that someone wrote that "math is a language." I disputed this, arguing that math is not a language but a system of logic. It was in this context that I asked "how do you say democracy in math?"

From this followed the discussion of how the logic of math is ill-fitted to social/political phenomena. It is here where I asserted that assigning a numerical value of 6 to U.S. democracy and one of 8 to Iranian democracy simply adds an unnecessary, subjective layer of complexity, which serves to obfuscate and not elucidate.

I am not gonna roll along and explain the utility of the operationalization I proposed.

Because to do so would demonstrate the validity of my point that the adapting of math to real world social/political phenomena is in most cases done so subjectively and without analytical purpose. You falsely accuse me of being disingenuous, but it is you, and other quant posters, who are willfully deceptive in your stubborn unwillingness to openly concede the severe limitations of quant analytical methods in political science.

5/16/2008 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am not gonna roll along and explain the utility of the operationalization I proposed."

Because to do so would demonstrate the validity of my point that the adapting of math to real world social/political phenomena is in most cases done so subjectively and without analytical purpose.

No I simply cannot explain it to you because you lack the basic framework to understand what I would be saying.

I could walk you through it all but I don't have the time to take you from your current state of willfull ignorance to the ability to the state when you could understand a basic linear specification, or a simple formal model.

If you want to take your ignorance as evidence that the tools are "in most cases done so subjectively and without analytical purpose." then that is fine but it seems like a strange way to go about logical inquiry.

A sweet irony of this is that quals are always complaining that quants do not take the time to learn substantively about their areas of research and they miss important details because they lack the training in a research area. You are committing the same sin. You have absolutely no training in these techniques and yet you think you know enough about them to judge their analytical value. Your expertise in one area does not give you the ability to critique quant methods any more than a random quants expertise in empirical modeling gives them the ability to critique environmental policy.

5/17/2008 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could walk you through it all but I don't have the time to take you from your current state of willfull ignorance to the ability to the state when you could understand a basic linear specification, or a simple formal model.

The matter at hand is a conceptual one, not an issue of statistics, per se. Thus, one does not need to explain statistics to answer the question "what is the analytical value of creating a numerical scale of democracies?"

Your stance confirms the earlier assertion that you do not try to justify your position because to do so would demonstrate the validity of my point that the adapting of math to real world social/political phenomena is in most cases done so subjectively and without analytical purpose.

5/17/2008 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have pity on me, and indulge me with two explanations invoked on this blog to justify the utilization quant analytical methods in political science.

1)Prone to replication
2)Estimates parameters with uncertainty

Do you want me to go on?

5/17/2008 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in most cases

Define most cases.

5/17/2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prone to replication

So one subjective exercise is replicated with another one. This is done in a context where journal editors are eager to promote the entire process as scientific and objective.

Estimates parameters with uncertainty

So statistical techniques are used to mask the subjective nature of the exercise and give it a sheen of science and objectivity.

5/17/2008 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP, you are still stalling. It speaks volumes about your intellectual dishonesty.

Please respond to the question posed by 5/16/2008 6:48 AM.

5/17/2008 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize, but I do not understand what you want.

5/17/2008 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize, but I do not understand what you want.

Answer the question. What could be simpler? Stop dissembling.

5/17/2008 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So one subjective exercise is replicated with another one.

Are you telling me that your qualitative analyses are objective? Please explain this to me.

5/17/2008 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Answer the question.

Which is?

5/17/2008 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you telling me that your qualitative analyses are objective? Please explain this to me.

One value of qualitative work is that it places the subjective aspects of the social sciences right before the reader, and thus allows the reader to determine the merit (or lack thereof) of the researcher's subjective judgments. In this regard, the quant analytical methods researcher engages in a type of deception, whereby the subjective judgments of the researcher are concealed from the reader and the quant researcher attempts to falsely convince the reader that there are no subjective qualities to their research. In this way qual research is more honest, scientific and valid.

5/17/2008 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which is?

5/16/2008 6:48 AM. I keep referring you to it (see 5/17/2008 9:34 AM and 5/16/2008 10:30 AM), and you keep ignoring it. It's right in this thread. Scroll up. Read.

You are intellectually dishonest. Stop dissembling, stop stalling.

5/17/2008 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I already explained that I do not know what you are asking with regard to those posts. You have already refuse to explain what you are asking -- claiming I already knew. (But I do not.)

5/17/2008 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One value of qualitative work is that it places the subjective aspects of the social sciences right before the reader

Oh. Really. What about when a qualitative scholar travels, say, to presidential libraries and/or overseas, to analyze primary source documents (that may or may not be in english) and interprets what s/he has read. In this case is it still obvious to the consumer of this research whether (1) the qual scholar has correctly interpreted the documents, (2) has not cherry picked quotes and/or taken nice sounding quotes out of context, (3) etc. etc. etc.

I really do not see the same level of transparency in qual research as you do. And the qual. researcher has just as much ability to be "deceptive" (your words, not mine) for the above reasons as do quant researchers.

5/17/2008 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

already refuse to explain what you are asking -- claiming I already knew

This is simply a lie. See 5/16/2008 6:59 AM. Plain for you and everyone else to see.

Stop dissembling and answer the question. Your intellectual dishonesty is embarrassing.

5/17/2008 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the qual scholar has correctly interpreted the documents

You are speaking to the strength of qual research -- namely, that a reader can determine for himself/herself whether an interpretation is correct. Thus, if I am basing my interpretation of a document on certain paragraphs in this document, I put those paragraphs right in the work.

In quant analytical research the reader does not have the opportunity to determine for himself/herself whether an interpretation is correct. This is a key reason why I tend to dismiss quant. analytical research.

has not cherry picked quotes and/or taken nice sounding quotes out of context

the qual. researcher has just as much ability to be "deceptive" (your words, not mine) for the above reasons as do quant researchers.


People will frequently disagree over interpretations, so in most cases such disagreements do not constitute deception (i.e., fraud). As to practices such as "cherry picking" those are overtly/conscience efforts at deception, which any researcher can engage in. The problem for quant scholars in my view is that quant analytical methods themselves are a type of deception -- again, masking the subjective quality of political science research and "telling" the reader that there are no such subjective aspects to quant analytical research.

5/17/2008 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your stance confirms the earlier assertion that you do not try to justify your position because to do so would demonstrate the validity of my point that the adapting of math to real world social/political phenomena is in most cases done so subjectively and without analytical purpose.

Wait so you think that if someone does not want to justify their position that by default that means you are right about their position?

Have you ever constructed a proof in you life?

5/17/2008 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thus, if I am basing my interpretation of a document on certain paragraphs in this document, I put those paragraphs right in the work.

This is not the point. The point is: How do I know that you are not taking these points out of context? How do I know that what you are putting "right in the work" is representative of the rest of the document(s)? How do I know that you are not a moron whose interpretation is completely way off base?

The issue is that I cannot readily evaluate/assess any of these things unless I travel to see the documents myself. Now please tell me how this is better than a quant analysis where I can identify precisely how I chose my cases for observation, measured my concepts, estimated my models...?


The problem for quant scholars in my view is that quant analytical methods themselves are a type of deception -- again, masking the subjective quality of political science research and "telling" the reader that there are no such subjective aspects to quant analytical research.

I really do not know of anyone that thinks there is no subjective components of quant. research, do you? I, for one, always acknowledge this in my research. For example, if I am measuring democracy, I identify the components/aspects that I believe are important (a subjective evaluation, mind you), and then make the case for why I believe these are important. If you disagree with me, then that's fine. But note that your disagreement is itself subjective. In this case, at least I explicitly told you how/why I did something.

I really do not understand the basis for your beliefs, your subjective beliefs that is, that qual. research is in some way better than quant. research in any of these respects.

5/17/2008 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait so you think that if someone does not want to justify their position that by default that means you are right about their position?

It depends on the context, but in this instance yes.

5/17/2008 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reader that there are no such subjective aspects to quant analytical research.

Find me ONE example of a quantitative paper or book that says that there is nothing subjective in quantitative research.

5/17/2008 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wait so you think that if someone does not want to justify their position that by default that means you are right about their position?"

It depends on the context, but in this instance yes.

wow. This is a basic logical fallacy that every quant on this board can see immediately. Your training has left you not only unable to engage in a thoughtful critique of quant methods but also unable to see the basic logical fallacies that you are constantly making.

For the record you can never accept the null. Especially based on a limited set of endogenous data.

5/17/2008 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do I know that you are not taking these points out of context? How do I know that what you are putting "right in the work" is representative of the rest of the document(s)? How do I know that you are not a moron whose interpretation is completely way off base?

Other than stupidity, your examples are cases of explicit deception. Thus, these are not faults of the method, but the researcher. (Mind you, I would argue it is easier to "put your finger on the scale" in quant. analytical research involving numerous cases.)

measured my concepts

In a conceptual, objective, analytical sense I do not know what a quantitative measure of most important political science concepts means. Going back to the earlier examples of U.S. and Iranian democracies I have no idea what numerical values to scientifically assign either
countries' electoral practices. Thus, any number assignment is arbitrary and subjective. The problem as I see it is quant analytical research "communicates" these assignments are somehow scientific/objective -- or alternatively, that statistical techniques scientifically minimize/eliminate any subjective/arbitrary components.

5/17/2008 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record you can never accept the null.

As a matter of fact, the bias in research should be toward accepting the null (or not rejecting it). In any event, I fail to see what this has to do with anything.

5/17/2008 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: 11:41

It is worth noting that in certain jurisdictions, and in certain contexts, silence can be construed as evidence of guilt.

5/17/2008 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record you can never accept the null.

As a matter of fact, the bias in research should be toward accepting the null (or not rejecting it). In any event, I fail to see what this has to do with anything.

Of course you don't. You also have no idea why what you just said contradicts what you just argued. If you were no so caviler I would be a bit embarrassed for you

5/17/2008 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other than stupidity, your examples are cases of explicit deception.

OK. But someone does not have to be stupid to misinterpret something. How do I know that your interpretation is correct if I do not have direct access to the same documents that you read? This is a problem of transparency, and primary document analysis is just as susceptible (if not more so) to this problem than any quant. analysis is.

In a conceptual, objective, analytical sense I do not know what a quantitative measure of most important political science concepts means.

What if I said that I constructed a dichotomous measure of democracy, taking a value of 1 if a country (a) has elections for the executive and legislature, (b) more than one political party participated in those elections, and (c) transitions in power from party to party do occur. Do you really not know what this is measuring? (Note that I am not asking you about your subjective evaluation of this measure, just whether or not it has any meaning).

5/17/2008 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if I said that I constructed a dichotomous measure of democracy, taking a value of 1 if a country (a) has elections for the executive and legislature, (b) more than one political party participated in those elections, and (c) transitions in power from party to party do occur.

Scientifically, assigning the value of 1 to such a polity is arbitrary. Why not assign it 50, or 1000, 100,000, etc? There is no scientific basis for any of these designations.

5/17/2008 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem as I see it is quant analytical research "communicates" these assignments are somehow scientific/objective -- or alternatively, that statistical techniques scientifically minimize/eliminate any subjective/arbitrary components.

So your scathing criticism of quant. methods is based on something "you see as" being communicated? Again, please find me one quant. study that claims to be completely lacking in subjectivity. Otherwise, all you have given me is an unfounded claim based on nothing other than your "feelings" or, better yet, based on something that you just made up.

5/17/2008 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone does not have to be stupid to misinterpret something

If someone is offering a specific interpretation of a document, rarely, if ever, do researchers offer one or two quotes to support their interpretation. Normally, the quoting is rather extensive. The reason being is that writers try to convince the reader that they are not taking quotes out of context. Moreover, from the reader's point of view if not enough quotes are provided, then he/she will remain unconvinced. In other words, writers and readers are conscience of the possibility of taking quotes out of context, and act accordingly.

5/17/2008 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scientifically, assigning the value of 1 to such a polity is arbitrary. Why not assign it 50, or 1000, 100,000, etc? There is no scientific basis for any of these designations.

EXACTLY. If we assigned it 1, when would 50 mean "democracy fifty"?

(I case you don't get it, George, I'm mocking you.)

5/17/2008 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So your scathing criticism of quant. methods is based on something "you see as" being communicated? Again, please find me one quant. study that claims to be completely lacking in subjectivity. Otherwise, all you have given me is an unfounded claim based on nothing other than your "feelings" or, better yet, based on something that you just made up.

I do not see the purpose of using objective measures (i.e., numbers) to partake in a process that is inherently subjective. For quant. analytical researchers to acknowledge that their projects are founded on subjective/arbitrary judgments is to acknowledge that their research is adding an unnecessary layer of complexity, which analytically adds nothing.

5/17/2008 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scientifically, assigning the value of 1 to such a polity is arbitrary. Why not assign it 50, or 1000, 100,000, etc? There is no scientific basis for any of these designations.

What if I told you that it does not matter which one you pick.

5/17/2008 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EXACTLY. If we assigned it 1, when would 50 mean "democracy fifty"?

The example is one of a dichotomous measure of democracy, but if it was an ordinal scale, then yes 50 would imply 50 democracy. So while for some reason you are trying to mock me (or someone named George), your "joke" makes my point -- namely, that the logic underlying numbers is ill-fitted to social/political phenomena.

5/17/2008 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if I told you that it does not matter which one you pick.

That is exactly the problem.

5/17/2008 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if I told you that it does not matter which one you pick.

That is exactly the problem.

Donny you're out of your element!

5/17/2008 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(or someone named George)"

Wait are you seriously telling us you have no idea who we are talking about when we say "George" even after the many many tme people have typed out his full name "George A. Gonzalez". Is your reading comprehension really that bad?

5/17/2008 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Donny you're out of your element!

What is your basis for this claim?

5/17/2008 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please answer one question for me, and be honest. Have you ever taken a quantitative methods course before?

5/17/2008 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if I told you that it does not matter which one you pick.

That is exactly the problem.

Actually it is not a problem at all.
The fact that you think it is reveals another strawman you have invented in your mind to discredit quant methods that anyone with an undergraduate level of training knows is silly.

5/17/2008 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Donny you're out of your element!

What is your basis for this claim?

Dude, George is not the preferred nomenclature. ILP, please.

5/17/2008 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually it is not a problem at all.

Let us say I assigned 1 to polities where there were more than two viable parties, elections took place at least every four years, and the governance system was based on a parliament. Our respective studies of democracies would presumable have different statistical outcomes. Scientifically, how do we determine which one is a more "valid" study (i.e., which one better explains the operation of empirical reality)? The obvious answer is that we cannot, and these studies have in essence added nothing to our analytical understanding of democracies.

5/17/2008 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scientifically, how do we determine which one is a more "valid" study (i.e., which one better explains the operation of empirical reality)?

It is not a question of which one is "scientifically" better (whatever that means). It is a question that you need to answer for yourself. Which measure of democracy do you find more substantively correct? This is not something I can answer for you. It is something you need to think about for yourself. In other words, you should be able to evaluate these results for yourself, and this is made possible by the fact that both sets of scholars have explicitly told you how they have measured democracy.

these studies have in essence added nothing to our analytical understanding of democracies.

I would beg to differ. If we find one set of results for the first measure of democracy, but a different set of results for the second, then this does tell us something. Now here's a quiz for you: can you tell me why this is the case?

5/17/2008 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not a question of which one is "scientifically" better (whatever that means).

So you are acknowledging that what you propose is not a scientific procedure. I wish you had acknowledged it a long time ago.

I would beg to differ. If we find one set of results for the first measure of democracy, but a different set of results for the second, then this does tell us something. Now here's a quiz for you: can you tell me why this is the case?

I plead ignorance. I am very eager to read your answer.

5/17/2008 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you are acknowledging that what you propose is not a scientific procedure. I wish you had acknowledged it a long time ago.

You see, this is precisely the problem with you. You have clearly distorted the point of my post. The point was not about the scientific nature of the procedure, but about the way to interpret the results. If you do not see the difference, then you really are a moron.

To follow your logic, if two different studies of global warming come to different conclusions about the magnitude of the effects of increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere (which, by the way, happens all the time even among honest studies), then at least one of them must not be scientific. This is absolute nonsense. Interpretation of results is key, and you need to use your brain.

At this point, and based on your past behavior as well, it is clear that you are not interested in an honest discussion. Rather, you simply want to misrepresent others' comments. I truly hope that your willful misrepresentation of others people's comments on this blog is not an indication of your scholarly integrity. But I am becoming more and more convinced that you are probably one of the qual scholars that is explicitly deceptive in your research as well.

5/17/2008 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW: you still haven't answered my question. Have you ever taken a quant. methods course?

But then again, I don't know why I am asking. At this point I wouldn't believe a word that you say.

5/17/2008 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To follow your logic, if two different studies of global warming come to different conclusions about the magnitude of the effects of increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere (which, by the way, happens all the time even among honest studies), then at least one of them must not be scientific. This is absolute nonsense. Interpretation of results is key, and you need to use your brain.

Please forgive me for being so blunt, but your statement conveys a complete and utter ignorance about science. To determine which of the climate change models is more accurate (hence, more scientific) researchers would continue to measure and observe reality. In this way they (we) would learn which model is more appropriately formulated and specified.

5/17/2008 2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Climate change models are very complex and do include error terms. There are many uncertainties involved, even when the processes are governed, as ILP likes to say, by the "laws of physics".

Does this mean these models are unscientific? Of course not. They are the best approximation of complex processes. All other climate scientists can then read these models and determine if the assumptions, parameters, etc. make sense.

Hmm...this sounds awfully similar to what most quantitative political scientists do.

Additionally, most of these studies are so cumbersome that even very sophisticated individuals have trouble grasping them. Therefore others, such as the UN panel on climate change, have to translate them for the general public and even policy makers. Does this mean climatologists are too sophisticated and should dumb it down so that we can all understand their research? For the sake of the environment, I certainly hope not.

5/17/2008 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this mean these models are unscientific? Of course not. They are the best approximation of complex processes. All other climate scientists can then read these models and determine if the assumptions, parameters, etc. make sense.

How is it determined which climate change model is more accurate (i.e., more scientific)? By examining how effectively each model predicts climate. It is really that simple.

5/17/2008 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this mean climatologists are too sophisticated and should dumb it down so that we can all understand their research? For the sake of the environment, I certainly hope not.

For the sake of what is political science unnecessarily complicated? It is not to make democracy work better, nor to allow the polity to operate more efficiently.

5/17/2008 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The example is one of a dichotomous measure of democracy, but if it was an ordinal scale, then yes 50 would imply 50 democracy.

Are you fundamentally incapable of making a statement about anything beyond whatever your immediate area of purported expertise is without including at least one error that is so vast that it illustrates, again, that you do not have even a decent high-school knowledge of these things?

No, 50 on an ordinal scale would not mean 50 democracy. In an ordinal scale, 50 means only more than any number less than it and less than any number smaller than it. 50 might be much, much less than than 50 times the value assigned to 1, or much, much more. In an ordinal scale, the sequence 1, 2, 3 is the same as the sequence 1, 10, 100.

The word you meant is cardinal.

5/17/2008 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crap crap crap.

No, 50 on an ordinal scale would not mean 50 democracy. In an ordinal scale, 50 means only more than any number less than it and less than any number smaller than it.

Rather, in an ordinal scale, 50 only means more than any number less than 50, and less than any number more than 50.

5/17/2008 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To determine which of the climate change models is more accurate (hence, more scientific) researchers would continue to measure and observe reality. In this way they (we) would learn which model is more appropriately formulated and specified.

I would propose (please do not forgive me for being so blunt) that you are an idiot. For an example of my point in the previous post, read the below article from a "scientific" journal.

Daniel A. Lashof & Dilip R. Ahuja. (1990) "Relative contributions of greenhouse gas emissions to global warming" Nature 344, 529 - 531.

Please, tell me: Why do these scholars come to conclusions that are different from the previous research? Is it because either they, or previous scholars (or both) were not scientific (in your words, "observing reality")? No. It is because of different measurements. But according to your limited understanding, differences in measurement are unacceptable.

Now I am done with you. This has been a complete waste of my time. I regret that taxpayer dollars are being wasted toward your salary.

5/17/2008 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For the sake of what is political science unnecessarily complicated? It is not to make democracy work better, nor to allow the polity to operate more efficiently."

You're the one arguing that political science is unnecessarily complicated - please do not attribute that attitude to the rest of us. Many of us learn tools to deal with the inherent complexity of political phenomena. We learn and utilize methods that can best account for the underlying processes. Sometimes these are quantitative, sometimes they are formal, sometimes they are even qualitative.

5/17/2008 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it determined which climate change model is more accurate (i.e., more scientific)? By examining how effectively each model predicts climate. It is really that simple.

I'm with you. I really think that we should stop wasting money on medical research since it can't predict which smokers are going to die from lung cancer and which ones aren't. Likewise, we should stop wasting money on those phony scientists studying meteors and asteroids since they can't even tell us when the next big one is going to hit.

It really is that simple, isn't it.

5/17/2008 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this "more scientific" stuff. ILP, can you give me a measure of "scientificness"? You must have one in mind, since saying "more" or "less" implies that.

How can I tell whether one scientific study is, on its face, more scientific than another scientific study? Is it based on the results of each study?

5/17/2008 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know of any quant study that claims to be "objective" in the way that you ascribe quant research to be. I'm flattered that you think we aim for total objectivity in our research, but let me tell you that we're not. We're open about how we code our variables, where we get our data, etc., and all these involve subjective decisions. Each has to be defended, and of course researchers often criticize each other on those grounds.

Tell me, if we're all objective, then how come you see so many disagreements about measurement? And how can I disagree with someone's coding if, as you claim, that coding is done in a non-transparent way?

5/17/2008 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would propose (please do not forgive me for being so blunt) that you are an idiot.

To be called an idiot by someone that is so clearly dim-witted is offensive. (I would normally show more patience and charity for those with below average intelligence but this individual has gone beyond the pale in insulting me.) Not only are you invoking an article on climate change from 1990 (when the study of climate change was still nascent), but you are not even coherent. Moreover, if I were you I would stop commenting on climate change, since it is obvious you are way beyond your depth on this matter. As a matter of fact, you have not demonstrated an understanding of anything on this blog.

5/17/2008 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really think that we should stop wasting money on medical research since it can't predict which smokers are going to die from lung cancer and which ones aren't. Likewise, we should stop wasting money on those phony scientists studying meteors and asteroids since they can't even tell us when the next big one is going to hit.

I have no idea what you are saying.

5/17/2008 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can I tell whether one scientific study is, on its face, more scientific than another scientific study? Is it based on the results of each study?

Science begins with the premise that we can "test" theories, models, specifications, etc. against reality. To the extent that particular theories, models, specifications, etc. improve our ability to explain/predict reality then these are better science than those that are less able to do so.

5/17/2008 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know of any quant study that claims to be "objective" in the way that you ascribe quant research to be. I'm flattered that you think we aim for total objectivity in our research, but let me tell you that we're not. We're open about how we code our variables, where we get our data, etc., and all these involve subjective decisions. Each has to be defended, and of course researchers often criticize each other on those grounds.

I appreciate your candor and openness. I, nonetheless, have to ask what is the purpose of applying objective measures/labels (i.e., numbers) to subjective judgments? What is accomplished with such an exercise? Does not the application of objective measures/labels (again, numbers) add a misleading/obfuscating sheen to what are, as you acknowledge, subjective determinations?

5/17/2008 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, you have not demonstrated an understanding of anything on this blog.

But your understanding has been amply demonstrated here, right? Let's see some of your more insightful posts:

Scientifically, assigning the value of 1 to such a polity is arbitrary. Why not assign it 50, or 1000, 100,000, etc? There is no scientific basis for any of these designations.

So if I go to a mathematician (presumably an expert speaker of math) and say "x1" they will understand that as meaning democracy?

But for the sake of argument let us assume that x1 means democracy. What does x2 mean? Is this democracy double?

I especially love how you talk about quants. claiming complete objectivity when no such thing is claimed:

So statistical techniques are used to mask the subjective nature of the exercise and give it a sheen of science and objectivity.

But let's not forget that the journal editors are in on the conspiracy:

So one subjective exercise is replicated with another one. This is done in a context where journal editors are eager to promote the entire process as scientific and objective.

And above all, my favorite response:

I am uncertain what you are...

(BTW: These quotes only reflect the golden oldies from ILP over the past 1-1.5 weeks. Who knows how many more could be found if I were to dig deeper).

One of these days, I am going to publish a book about the ILP's postings. Maybe I could market it as a comedy. Not sure about a title, though. Anyone have any thoughts? I may even make you co-author if the title suggestion is good enough.

5/18/2008 6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only are you invoking an article on climate change from 1990 (when the study of climate change was still nascent...)

Excuse me. I never realized that studies that were conducted at the beginning of a research programme were irrelevant (regardless of how novel and/or important). I guess that throws the whole "standing on the shoulders of giants" idea out the window. From now on, I am only going to cite research from the 21st century.

...but you are not even coherent.

What exactly was incoherent. You were the one that said (5/17/2008 1:08 PM) if two different studies using two different measures of democracy yielded different results, then one of them would "have to be" less valid (otherwise, why would you ask "Scientifically, how do we determine which one is a more "valid" study").

My question was simply how you defend your claim about the problems of competing results in light of similar findings in the physical sciences. If two studies of climate change come to different conclusions, then is one of them necessarily less scientific or less valid than the other? Of course not. So then why is this problematic in the study of democracy that was alluded to previously.

Now please tell me, why is this question incoherent? It makes perfect sense to me.

On a more personal note, I should not have called you an idiot. It does not advance the discussion on this blog. I was simply responding (overly so) to your previous post from (5/17/2008 2:49 PM) where you said: Please forgive me for being so blunt, but your statement conveys a complete and utter ignorance about science.

5/18/2008 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a more personal note, I should not have called you an idiot. It does not advance the discussion on this blog. I was simply responding (overly so) to your previous post from (5/17/2008 2:49 PM) where you said: Please forgive me for being so blunt, but your statement conveys a complete and utter ignorance about science.

I appreciate and accept your apology. I am sorry if my use of the word ignorance upset you. I will note, however, that alleging someone is ignorant is not necessarily an insult. It describes a lack of knowledge. There are many subjects I, for one, am ignorant in. Additionally, not to excuse any of my behavior, but some very strident things have been directed at me on this blog, and I have always refrained from responding with insults. In any event, as I already wrote I happily accept your apology.

I never realized that studies that were conducted at the beginning of a research programme were irrelevant (regardless of how novel and/or important).

It is not that such studies are irrelevant. Nevertheless, at the initiation of a scientific field of study researches are understandably unsure which models and theories are accurately describing physical reality. As the science in this field proceeds (i.e., more data is collected and better measurement techniques are developed), some early models and theories are jettisoned as ineffective (unscientific) in analyzing the operation of reality.

(In the realm of climate change science some early theories/models foresaw increasing cloud cover [from more water vapor resulting from the global warming trend] as a brake [negative feedback] to rising temperatures. As people continued to study climate change, researchers concluded that those early cloud cover theories/models are invalid. The result is current models of climate change do not factor/specify cloud cover as having a negative feedback on global warming.)

So then why is this problematic in the study of democracy that was alluded to previously.

In the physical sciences the logic of numbers is readily, logically, usefully applied to reality. Again drawing upon climate change science, the designation 1 can readily be applied to one molecule of CO2, 2 to two molecules, etc. When measuring temperature, the number 1 can logically be applied to a 1 degree rise in temperature, etc. and so forth. No one is going to disagree when these designations. Again, this is because the logic of math is readily adapted to matter and energy.

In the examples of democracy we discussed I used the designation of 1 to label a polity with certain characteristics. You used the same designation of 1 to label a polity with very different characteristics. Neither one of us is incorrect. This is because our use of the designation of 1 is purely subjective. In the physical science, the application of the designation of 1 to two CO2 molecules is patently wrong, and any model that is specified in this way will be rejected as not describing reality.

The end result is that in political science objective labels (i.e., numbers) are applied to subjective determinations. This is unscientific (insofar as such practices do not lead us to an understanding of reality), and serves to confuse and not enlighten.

5/18/2008 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Godwin Slaw said...

"democracy" must necessarily be distinguished from "Democracy," the late lamented transsexual lead singer for the steampunk-emo band Miss Patchett's Ladies Academy. His/her sonorous KeeNings and penchant for lamé led noted steampunk-emo critic Monika Göth (Vermillion (SD) Plain Talk) to proclaim "S/he's clearly a 50." Tatu Vanhanen could not be reached for comment.

5/18/2008 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always refrained from responding with insults.

Because reasonable people know that being compared to Stalin isn't an insult.

5/18/2008 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because reasonable people know that being compared to Stalin isn't an insult.

Comparing someone's tactics to those used by Stalin is not seemingly an insult. It can make someone uncomfortable, but, of course, that is part of the goal. By pointing out that such a tactic is consistent with Stalin's, hopeful people will cease using the tactic, and employ ones that are ethical and consistent with the pursuit of the truth.

5/18/2008 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That should read: " . . . hopefully people . . ."

5/18/2008 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But let's not forget that the journal editors are in on the conspiracy:

So one subjective exercise is replicated with another one. This is done in a context where journal editors are eager to promote the entire process as scientific and objective.

It is less a product of conspiracy, and more the result of corruption.

5/18/2008 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be called an idiot by someone that is so clearly dim-witted is offensive.

Wouldn't it be more offensive if you thought the person calling you an idiot was smart? I mean, you can disregard comments from someone you find dim-witted, no?

Just asking... seems like you don't have a very thick skin. Are you new to the blogosphere?

5/18/2008 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just asking... seems like you don't have a very thick skin. Are you new to the blogosphere?

Perhaps I do have thin skin, but I would think calling someone an idiot is offensive/insulting/inappropriate in any context -- blogosphere or otherwise.

Wouldn't it be more offensive if you thought the person calling you an idiot was smart?

Not that being smart would excuse the offense, but perhaps one could reason that this person is so highly intelligent that maybe I do look (am) intellectually deficient (i.e., an idiot) compared to them. Again, not that such language is ever acceptable.

5/19/2008 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The end result is that in political science objective labels (i.e., numbers) are applied to subjective determinations.

You argue that numbers in the physical science are useful because they are actually "measuring something" (i.e., a 1 means 1 atom of CO2, a 2 means 2 atoms, etc.). Now, here, I am really not sure what you mean by "measuring something" because, in our previous example of democracy, the 1 was still "measuring something" (the presence of some minimal characteristics that we have used to define democracy).

So, if I define democracy as a function of three observable characteristics (say, a=free press, b=elected executive and legislature, and c=more than one party running for office) and give my variable "democracy" a value of 1 if it has all three of these characteristics (and zero otherwise), then it is "measuring something" isn't it? You can disagree with my definition of democracy, and perhaps add a fourth component (say, d=universal suffrage?). But just because you disagree with my operational definition does not mean that my measurement does not have any meaning. Is it a crude measure? Possibly. Is it useless? No. Does it have meaning? Yes.

In the physical sciences the logic of numbers is readily, logically, usefully applied to reality. Again drawing upon climate change science, the designation 1 can readily be applied to one molecule of CO2, 2 to two molecules, etc.

Are you suggesting that this is not the case in the social sciences as well? Granted, the previous example was about a dichotomous/categorical variable. But there are plenty of measures in the social sciences that fit your definition of "measuring something" as well. Income, years of education, number of years an incumbent has been in office, number of wars a country has been in, %of population that is [name it] minority group, income inequality, number of people killed in terrorist attacks... These are all "measuring something" according to your definition, aren't they? So numbers in political science do have meaning, don't they? (even though I believe that the above example of the dummy variable also has meaning).

5/19/2008 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, if I define democracy as a function of three observable characteristics (say, a=free press, b=elected executive and legislature, and c=more than one party running for office) and give my variable "democracy" a value of 1 if it has all three of these characteristics (and zero otherwise), then it is "measuring something" isn't it? You can disagree with my definition of democracy, and perhaps add a fourth component (say, d=universal suffrage?). But just because you disagree with my operational definition does not mean that my measurement does not have any meaning. Is it a crude measure? Possibly. Is it useless? No. Does it have meaning? Yes.

Let us say we take your "definition" of democracy (i.e., those characteristics that merit a designation of 1 according to your scheme), and garner one set of findings. Then we take a different "definition" of democracy (i.e., another set of characteristics that we assign a designation of 1), and gain a different set of findings. What have we learned about the effects of democracy? -- ostensibly nothing.

Are you suggesting that this is not the case in the social sciences as well? Granted, the previous example was about a dichotomous/categorical variable. But there are plenty of measures in the social sciences that fit your definition of "measuring something" as well. Income, years of education, number of years an incumbent has been in office, number of wars a country has been in, %of population that is [name it] minority group, income inequality, number of people killed in terrorist attacks... These are all "measuring something" according to your definition, aren't they? So numbers in political science do have meaning, don't they? (even though I believe that the above example of the dummy variable also has meaning).

With this type of data, you are leaving the realm of politics -- i.e., the allocation of values (alternatively, who gets what when and why). In other words, with such data you are not going to gain analytical leverage over the key issues of politics -- e.g., democracy, power, justice, etc.

5/19/2008 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George, how can "income inequality" not be related to the question of "who gets what when and why"?

In what universe to you live in which income inequality is not political? Surely Marx would disagree.

5/19/2008 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ostensibly nothing.

Aw geez

5/19/2008 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, ILP is at it again. Faced with a solid argument, he retorts: "this isn't about politics!"

So what is in the list of things unrelated to politics:
-partisan consequences of redistricting;
-number of years an incumbent has been in office;
-number of wars a country has been in;
-income inequality;
-number of people killed in terrorist attacks...

I left out the SES stuff as they aren't about politics per se--but ILP, really, you think that race doesn't matter in politics? Or income? Or education? Really?

5/19/2008 11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-partisan consequences of redistricting;
-number of years an incumbent has been in office;
-number of wars a country has been in;
-income inequality;
-number of people killed in terrorist attacks...


While these are all important issues, the role of a science is to uncover causation. Hence, political science should not be simply about "counting the the number of wars" nor the "number of years an incumbent has been in office", but determining the why underlying these matters.

In too many instances, quant. researchers' work amounts to little more than playing with such numbers, without any move toward gaining leverage over causation. I would submit this is mostly the result of the nature of quant. analytical methods, which are most apt in uncovering patterns of behavior -- but not causation.

5/20/2008 5:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-partisan consequences of redistricting;
-number of years an incumbent has been in office;
-number of wars a country has been in;
-income inequality;
-number of people killed in terrorist attacks...


While these are all important issues, the role of a science is to uncover causation. Hence, political science should not be simply about "counting the the number of wars" nor the "number of years an incumbent has been in office", but determining the why underlying these matters.

In too many instances, quant. researchers' work amounts to little more than playing with such numbers, without any move toward gaining leverage over causation. I would submit this is mostly the result of the nature of quant. analytical methods, which are most apt in uncovering patterns of behavior -- but not causation.


Once again your inability to follow the conversation leads us to wonder if you are disingenuous or you simply lack the ability to follow.

The poster was talking about these things as measures of important variables that we can use to analyze political phenomena. Often as the independent not dependent variables.

Way to dodge the point.

5/20/2008 5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The poster was talking about these things as measures of important variables that we can use to analyze political phenomena.

So what is in the list of things unrelated to politics:

In important ways both posts are evading the issue initially raised: With this type of data, you are leaving the realm of politics -- i.e., the allocation of values (alternatively, who gets what when and why). In other words, with such data you are not going to gain analytical leverage over the key issues of politics -- e.g., democracy, power, justice, etc.

Thus, the data invoked is tangentially related to politics, but not politics:

-partisan consequences of redistricting;
-number of years an incumbent has been in office;
-number of wars a country has been in;
-income inequality;
-number of people killed in terrorist attacks...


So let us talk about the role of quant analytical methods in analyzing politics. With the earlier discussion of democracy, it was demonstrated that quant analytical methods are not greatly useful in this endeavor.

5/20/2008 6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the earlier discussion of democracy, it was demonstrated that quant analytical methods are not greatly useful in this endeavor.

lol.

Nothing of the sort was demonstrated.

Is this how you conduct your research? By putting forth a conjecture and then claiming you have demonstrated something. If it is like the median quant work then I am gonna guess the answer is yes.

5/20/2008 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the earlier discussion of democracy, it was demonstrated that quant analytical methods are not greatly useful in this endeavor.

When was this demonstrated? All that was "demonstrated" was that you lack basic numeracy. Remember when you wrote "democracy double"?

5/20/2008 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us say we take your "definition" of democracy (i.e., those characteristics that merit a designation of 1 according to your scheme), and garner one set of findings. Then we take a different "definition" of democracy (i.e., another set of characteristics that we assign a designation of 1), and gain a different set of findings. What have we learned about the effects of democracy? -- ostensibly nothing.

Well, I would say that we possibly have "learned" something. One (though not the only) possible reason for the different findings is as a result of the different coding rules. In other words, if your coding rule uncovers a positive association (with some other variable, say, income inequality), but mine does not (using the exact same data), then we need to ask ourselves: why would this be the case?

Since the only difference between my "definition" of democracy and yours was was that you added some fourth component (universal suffrage), we might want to look more closely at this factor as a potentially "key" aspect of democracy that reduces income inequality. Now again, I am not claiming that this is the only reason for the difference in findings. And we would want to know "why" universal suffrage would have this effect (i.e., have some theory) and we would need to retest this hypothesis on additional data. But the point is that we have "learned something", haven't we?

5/20/2008 6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the only difference between my "definition" of democracy and yours was was that you added some fourth component (universal suffrage), we might want to look more closely at this factor as a potentially "key" aspect of democracy that reduces income inequality. Now again, I am not claiming that this is the only reason for the difference in findings. And we would want to know "why" universal suffrage would have this effect (i.e., have some theory) and we would need to retest this hypothesis on additional data. But the point is that we have "learned something", haven't we?

The initial decision to exclude universal suffrage is arbitrary -- without any scientific basis. So in other words, the labeling/specification of the variable "democracy" is subjective, arbitrary, and unscientific.

This leads to a point raised earlier. Namely, that quant analytical researchers will define their variables (or include/exclude variables) in ways that lead to positive findings. If someone did that in the physical sciences, they would be accused of fraud.

5/20/2008 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So lets take 2 global warming studies (or chemistry studies, it doesn't really matter). Now these studies are both using computer simulated models to predict some relevant phenomena. BUT the predictors in the models are not exactly the same. Yes, there are many similarities between the two models but there are differences, too. Does this mean that one of these researchers is a fraud?

Second, you refuse to admit that quals will cherry pick evidence to support their findings, but seem to assume that all quants are fraudulent hacks. So what is it about quants that make them so prone such devious activities?

Third, you say that omitting universal suffrage is tantamount to fraud - that quants are trying to pull one over on their journal audience. This might be true if they say they are including universal suffrage and then do not. But no, the article plainly states coding decisions in the text and which states were coded which ways are available from some source.

You don't have to understand the inner workings of every single new quant method to understand the basics of model specification. And info about coding decisions is easily available. With the great intellect you have demonstrated on this blog, I'm sure you can read and understand enough of quant to determine if you beleive their model, results, coding, etc. Quant work is no less transparent than the wonderful qual work I'm sure you do. Just saying it is does not make it so.

5/20/2008 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George, please respond to the question above. How can "income inequality" not be related to the question of "who gets what when and why"?

5/20/2008 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that quant analytical researchers will define their variables (or include/exclude variables) in ways that lead to positive findings

Right. No qualitative scholar has ever done that before. (rolls eyes)

5/20/2008 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The initial decision to exclude universal suffrage is arbitrary -- without any scientific basis. So in other words, the labeling/specification of the variable "democracy" is subjective, arbitrary, and unscientific.

Is this coding decision subjective? Yes, in the sense that it depends upon what each individual believes are the important "defining" characteristics of democracy.

Is this coding decision arbitrary? No. People do not just make this stuff up. If you look at the individual measures of democracy, and the journal articles in which they are identified, then you will find that there is a strong theoretical basis for each of their operationalizations. They do not just come up with these characteristics out of thin air (or arbitrarily as you put it), but the measures are based on past research (theoretical, philosophical, etc.). So now why is this arbitrary?

Is any of this unscientific? I'm not sure what you are talking about here when you say "scientific" (to use your words, "its unclear what you are saying"). Define what you mean by science here and I could answer your question.

But I would say that, to the extent that I have precisely defined my key concept and have done so explicitly and transparently so that you know exactly what I did, it is scientific. Are you able to disagree? Yes. Does a different opinion about how to define something make the whole endeavor unscientific? No.

Also, as 5/20/2008 7:50 AM pointed out, there is no "fraud" here because I have been open and honest about my coding procedures. I would think that fraud would be a bigger problem when people do not define concepts explicitly and/or reject the need to define them outright which, by the way, is the position that you took not so long ago :-)

5/20/2008 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this how you conduct your research? By putting forth a conjecture and then claiming you have demonstrated something.

Someone uncharitable might note that others in history have taken such an approach, blusteringly asserting that what they think is the truth and defying others to do anything about it. People whose names rhyme with Schmoseph Schmalin.

5/20/2008 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also heard that someone whose name rhymes with "Fladolf Blitler" had an exaggerated sense of his own self-importance and was paranoid about conspiracies regarding those more numerate than him.

5/20/2008 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this coding decision subjective? Yes, in the sense that it depends upon what each individual believes are the important "defining" characteristics of democracy.

Is this coding decision arbitrary? No. People do not just make this stuff up. If you look at the individual measures of democracy, and the journal articles in which they are identified, then you will find that there is a strong theoretical basis for each of their operationalizations. They do not just come up with these characteristics out of thin air (or arbitrarily as you put it), but the measures are based on past research (theoretical, philosophical, etc.). So now why is this arbitrary?


By acknowledging that the applying of numerical designations to social/political phenomena is a subjective process then by definition you are conceding that the allocation of numerical designations to social/political phenomena is arbitrary. The fact that you are borrowing/using someone else's subjective/arbitrary coding decisions does not make the process any less arbitrary.

Is any of this unscientific? I'm not sure what you are talking about here when you say "scientific" (to use your words, "its unclear what you are saying"). Define what you mean by science here and I could answer your question.

Science, or the scientific process, is the process whereby humans understand/analyze the operation of reality. The application of numerical designations to social/political phenomena is often unscientific because, for instance, there is no "1" democracy, justice, freedom, etc. These are inherently subjective concepts that cannot be adapted to numbers (i.e., objective labels/measures). The very effort to assign a numerical value to a concept such as democracy is to distort reality and provide a false (hence, unscientific) view of reality.

Also, as 5/20/2008 7:50 AM pointed out, there is no "fraud" here because I have been open and honest about my coding procedures.

You are engaging in a fraud when you arbitrarily exclude universal suffrage, media freedom, civil liberties, etc. from your definition of democracy. In other words, your goal in excluding these factors is not understanding/analyzing the operation of the real world, but simply to have positive findings to report to (perspective) employers, and journal editors.

I would think that fraud would be a bigger problem when people do not define concepts explicitly and/or reject the need to define them outright which, by the way, is the position that you took not so long ago :-)

I am uncertain how that would be fraudulent. Nonetheless, what I did argue was that certain political concepts legitimately manifest themselves in myriad ways. Thus, it would be empirically false to posit rigid, highly specified definitions of certain concepts. Democracy, for instance, can take numerous institutional forms -- even conceivably through one party rule.

5/20/2008 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP:

You have consistently argued here that what we (quants.) are doing is not political science. Would you please tell me what you think a good political science research topic would be?

I am just trying to get a concrete idea here. I am not sure exactly what political science is according to you. You have defined it as the allocation of values (alternatively, who gets what when and why). What types of topics would you propose. Please just give me one example here.

5/20/2008 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I said: I would think that fraud would be a bigger problem when people do not define concepts explicitly and/or reject the need to define them outright which, by the way, is the position that you took not so long ago :-)

You said: I am uncertain how that would be fraudulent.

I didn't say it would be fraudulent, but that fraud would be a bigger problem here. Do you not see why this is the case. Don't change the meaning of what I said.

5/20/2008 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"By acknowledging that the applying of numerical designations to social/political phenomena is a subjective process then by definition you are conceding that the allocation of numerical designations to social/political phenomena is arbitrary."

So by the same token since qual work is subjective by its very nature then it is too arbitrary.

5/20/2008 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are engaging in a fraud when you arbitrarily exclude universal suffrage, media freedom, civil liberties, etc. from your definition of democracy.

Hmm, so Adam Przeworski is a fraud? Interesting perspective.

5/20/2008 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP, I have a question for you.

do you think that Skocpol's States and Social Revolutions is a theory of revolutions in 3 countries (China, France, and Russia), or do you think that she attempts to elaborate a theory that would be generalizable to other cases as well?

If the latter, what do you think of her account? Do you find it convincing? Why or why not?

5/20/2008 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"By acknowledging that the applying of numerical designations to social/political phenomena is a subjective process then by definition you are conceding that the allocation of numerical designations to social/political phenomena is arbitrary."

So by the same token since qual work is subjective by its very nature then it is too arbitrary.

Your statement would only follow from the above formulation if qual scholars sought to label political/social phenomena with numbers.

5/20/2008 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't say it would be fraudulent, but that fraud would be a bigger problem here. Do you not see why this is the case. Don't change the meaning of what I said.

I would say that I do not see why this is the case.

5/20/2008 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So lets take 2 global warming studies (or chemistry studies, it doesn't really matter). Now these studies are both using computer simulated models to predict some relevant phenomena. BUT the predictors in the models are not exactly the same. Yes, there are many similarities between the two models but there are differences, too. Does this mean that one of these researchers is a fraud?

A climate change researcher claims that according to their well specified model the overall rise in global temperature will be modest, even if we increase our rate of global warming emissions. Upon closer examination, it is found that the researcher did not include methane nor nitrous oxide in their model. These are two well-established heat-trapping gases (methane is particularly known as a potent heat trapping gas). In such a circumstance, then, yes, the researcher has perpetrated a fraud, because they sought to make claim about the specific operation of global warming while knowing that they excluded factors that are broadly accepted (established) as shaping the phenomena of global warming.

I similar point can made about excluding universal suffrage in any study that claims to analyze the effects of democracy.

5/20/2008 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP. Please tell me what would be an example of a good research topic in political science, since you have shot down everything that has been mentioned so far. I really really really am curious. Please tell me.

5/20/2008 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can "income inequality" not be related to the question of "who gets what when and why"?

A study analyzing how income level effects voting would be one that is not related to "who gets what when and why." I am assuming that voting does not effect "who gets what when and why", and in many polities it may not.

5/20/2008 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A study analyzing how income level effects voting would be one that is not related to "who gets what when and why." I am assuming that voting does not effect "who gets what when and why", and in many polities it may not.


This is perhaps the most outrageous statement you've made on this blog. I now am starting to believe that you may actually be delusional.

5/20/2008 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please tell me what would be an example of a good research topic in political science, since you have shot down everything that has been mentioned so far.

This has already been discussed at length. Nonetheless, I think that political science research should almost invariable involve understanding/analyzing human cognition in shaping political phenomena.

5/20/2008 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is perhaps the most outrageous statement you've made on this blog. I now am starting to believe that you may actually be delusional.

In many cities throughout the U.S., for example, regardless of who gets elected unfortunately the same interests always seemingly win out.

5/20/2008 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In many cities throughout the U.S., for example, regardless of who gets elected unfortunately the same interests always seemingly win out.

So you then assume that income inequality is not a topic for political scientists to study? You're not a very good political scientist.

5/20/2008 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I asked: Please tell me what would be an example of a good research topic in political science, since you have shot down everything that has been mentioned so far.

You responded: This has already been discussed at length. Nonetheless, I think that political science research should almost invariable involve understanding/analyzing human cognition in shaping political phenomena.

This is not very helpful. You have shot down specific topics that quants. consider to be political science topics. Could you please be more specific and give me one specific example of a topic that you believe falls within the bounds of political science. It shouldn't be that hard.

5/20/2008 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I similar point can made about excluding universal suffrage in any study that claims to analyze the effects of democracy.

So any study of that examines the US before, say, 1965, is not a study of democracy?

5/20/2008 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So any study of that examines the US before, say, 1965, is not a study of democracy?

Not only is it not a study of democracy, it is not political science.

5/20/2008 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So any study of that examines the US before, say, 1965, is not a study of democracy?

When I write universal suffrage, I mean the scope of the voting constituency does affect the polity.

5/20/2008 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On assigning numbers to political things:

Couldn't you say that some country is more democratic than another country? In doing this, aren't you, in a way, assigning a higher number to the more democratic country and a lower number to the less democratic country (depending on coding, of course)? I understand that the exact value of the numbers are arbitrary, but since we're concerned with the order (more democratic, less democratic, medium democratic, etc.) the exact value of the numbers don't matter.

5/20/2008 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't you say that some country is more democratic than another country?

On what basis would that claim be made. More importantly, why would one country be "2" and another a "4"? In other words, why would one country be "2" more units more/less democratic? Again, the entire project is awkward, ill-fitted, and ultimately without a scientific rationale.

5/20/2008 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't you say that some country is more democratic than another country?

On what basis would that claim be made.

You really can't imagine one country being more democratic than one another? You really think that Saudi Arabia is equally as democratic as the US?

Wow.

5/20/2008 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really think that Saudi Arabia is equally as democratic as the US?

Someone who is a Muslim may think so.

5/20/2008 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone who is a Muslim may think so.

Are you saying that the definition of democracy is subjective? (Here's a hint: You may want to treat carefully in composing your answer here.)

5/20/2008 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you saying that the definition of democracy is subjective? (Here's a hint: You may want to treat carefully in composing your answer here.)

There are certainly different definitions of democracy. Liberal Democrats, Libertarians, Feminists, Socialists, Christian Democrats, Ancient Conservatives, etc. all posit different definitions of democracy.

5/20/2008 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really think that Saudi Arabia is equally as democratic as the US?

Someone who is a Muslim may think so.

I think a more germane issue for this blog than whether Saudi Arabia is more democratic than the U.S., or vice versa, is how does one quantify the differences? Any numerical interpretation of the differences between polities is arbitrary and unscientific.

5/20/2008 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are certainly different definitions of democracy. Liberal Democrats, Libertarians, Feminists, Socialists, Christian Democrats, Ancient Conservatives, etc. all posit different definitions of democracy.

So you're saying that the very definition of democracy is subjective? Yes or no, George.

5/20/2008 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any numerical interpretation of the differences between polities is arbitrary and unscientific.

This is simply false. It has been shown to you over the past several days, but you either do not read the posts are incapable of grasping them.

How do you do qualitative research when you cannot read and internalize basic social science concepts?

5/20/2008 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is simply false. It has been shown to you over the past several days

Where has this been shown?

5/20/2008 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you're saying that the very definition of democracy is subjective?

Whether one believes a society/polity is democratic or not does flow from normative beliefs. Thus, I would not call definitions of democracy subjective, but the definitions/conceptions of democracy that different people embrace are dictated by personal beliefs.

5/20/2008 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP,

do you think that 100 degrees Farenheit is twice as hot as 50 degrees Farenheit?

5/20/2008 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where has this been shown?

Read the thread. I cannot be expected to do your reading for you.

5/20/2008 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not call definitions of democracy subjective, but the definitions/conceptions of democracy that different people embrace are dictated by personal beliefs.

So it doesn't matter what "some Muslims" may think. The definition of democracy isn't subjective. And regardless of what "some Muslims" think, we can indeed say that yes, the US is more democratic than Saudi Arabia.

5/20/2008 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am assuming that voting does not effect "who gets what when and why", and in many polities it may not."

Here you imply that, at the very least, some democracies work better than others, right? If you agree, then you're saying that these cases can be ordered.

5/20/2008 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it doesn't matter what "some Muslims" may think. The definition of democracy isn't subjective. And regardless of what "some Muslims" think, we can indeed say that yes, the US is more democratic than Saudi Arabia.

You are correct that the definitions of democracy are not subjective, but there are, nonetheless, different definitions of democracy. So, for instance, if one's definition of democracy is a polity that gets the populous "closer" to Allah, then Saudi presumably comes closer to satisfying that definition than the U.S. Thus, according to this definition, Saudi is more democratic.

If you agree, then you're saying that these cases can be ordered.

We can order polities according to various criteria. Nevertheless, what does being "one unit" more democratic mean?

5/21/2008 5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the thread. I cannot be expected to do your reading for you.

My point is you are making things up.

5/21/2008 5:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you think that 100 degrees Farenheit is twice as hot as 50 degrees Farenheit?

Yes.

5/21/2008 5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My point is you are making things up.

That's nice for you to think, but the thread is right here.

5/21/2008 5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thus, according to this definition, Saudi is more democratic.

But that definition is not the definition used by political scientist, so I am uncertain why you are raising. As you said, the definition of democracy is not subjective. This definition is incorrect.


We can order polities according to various criteria. Nevertheless, what does being "one unit" more democratic mean?


Search Google for "ordinal variable".

5/21/2008 5:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We can order polities according to various criteria."

ILP Dude: your quant friends just won, and you don't even know it.

5/21/2008 5:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you think that 100 degrees Farenheit is twice as hot as 50 degrees Farenheit?

Yes.


Epic Fail. Do you think that 37.7778 degrees Celsius is twice as hot at 10 degrees Celsius?

5/21/2008 5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Search Google for "ordinal variable".

However those ordinal values are defined is going to be arbitrary and subjective.

5/21/2008 6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think that 37.7778 degrees Celsius is twice as hot at 10 degrees Celsius?

You asked about Fahrenheit. Where does Celsius come in?

5/21/2008 6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


However those ordinal values are defined is going to be arbitrary and subjective.


Not if the definitions used are the proper ones and the coding rules are careful.

Did I just teach you something? That ordinal variables exist?

5/21/2008 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP: Please give me an example of what you think a good political science topic is. I am beginning to believe that you do not have any clue. Prove me wrong.

And do not give me some vague notion such as uncovering cognition... Something specific please.

5/21/2008 6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is 20 degrees Celsius twice as hot as 10 degrees Celsius? Is 20 degrees Fahrenheit twice as hot as 10 degrees Fahrenheit?

Of course, yes to both questions. That is the point. In other words, whether one uses Celsius or Fahrenheit each system of temperature measurement is logically, objectively, appropriately, indisputably specified. Obviously, the same cannot be said of quantitative measures of "democracy."

5/21/2008 6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not if the definitions used are the proper ones

What are the proper definitions? There are none.

5/21/2008 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please give me an example of what you think a good political science topic is.

One example would be the cognition that shapes public policy formation (i.e., state behavior).

5/21/2008 6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is 20 degrees Celsius twice as hot as 10 degrees Celsius? Is 20 degrees Fahrenheit twice as hot as 10 degrees Fahrenheit?

Of course, yes to both questions. That is the point. In other words, whether one uses Celsius or Fahrenheit each system of temperature measurement is logically, objectively, appropriately, indisputably specified. Obviously, the same cannot be said of quantitative measures of "democracy."


This may be the dumbest thing I have ever read on this board.

George you basic lack of training in any sort of numerate area rears its ugly head again.

wow. major, major fail.

5/21/2008 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the proper definitions? There are none.

Sure there are. You wrote yesterday that the definition of democracy is not subjective.

5/21/2008 6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is 20 degrees Celsius twice as hot as 10 degrees Celsius? Is 20 degrees Fahrenheit twice as hot as 10 degrees Fahrenheit?

Of course, yes to both questions.



No, you're actually quite wrong here. Even wikipedia can show you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degree_Celsius#Temperatures_and_intervals

This is basic high school physics.

5/21/2008 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote yesterday that the definition of democracy is not subjective.

I agree that there are definitions of democracy, but we are not going to agree on what is the proper one. More germane, how do we objectively (scientifically) quantify these definitions? That is not possible.

5/21/2008 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote yesterday that the definition of democracy is not subjective.

I agree that there are definitions of democracy, but we are not going to agree on what is the proper one. More germane, how do we objectively (scientifically) quantify these definitions? That is not possible.

5/21/2008 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that there are definitions of democracy, but we are not going to agree on what is the proper one.

This is irrelevant. If you tell me what definition you want to use, we can quantify it.

More germane, how do we objectively (scientifically) quantify these definitions? That is not possible.

Sure we can. If qualitative scholars can do it, then quantitative scholars can too.

5/21/2008 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One example would be the cognition that shapes public policy formation (i.e., state behavior).

OK. Now we are getting somewhere. Now, what exactly do you mean by "public policy formation"?

And, if you don't mind telling me, how would you go about studying this?

5/21/2008 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: 6:46

I will grant that my initial formulation was incorrect. It still does not obviate the reality that the Celsius and Fahrenheit measurement systems are objectively (scientifically) specified.

5/21/2008 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will grant that my initial formulation was incorrect.

Why were you incorrect? Was it because of a basic failure to understand the concepts, or because of a failure to read carefully?


It still does not obviate the reality that the Celsius and Fahrenheit measurement systems are objectively (scientifically) specified.

No one said otherwise. However, it proves that interval variables exist. We can use them (like ordinal or nominal variables) for political science.

5/21/2008 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is irrelevant. If you tell me what definition you want to use, we can quantify it.

That is precisely the problem. People can reasonably and legitimately disagree as to the definition (indicators) I put forward.

This exercise you suggest is telling, because it demonstrates that you (and other quants) are not interested in the actual operation of reality -- but in only showing your methods can be adapted to social science data. Thus, you do care which indicators are actually reflective of democracy, but only that your approach can be applied -- to what end I am unsure.

5/21/2008 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can use them (like ordinal or nominal variables) for political science.

They can be used. The question is what is their analytical value?

5/21/2008 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This exercise you suggest is telling, because it demonstrates that you (and other quants) are not interested in the actual operation of reality -- but in only showing your methods can be adapted to social science data. Thus, you do care which indicators are actually reflective of democracy, but only that your approach can be applied -- to what end I am unsure.

"demonstrates" is not a magic word. Just saying it does not mean that something has actually demonstrated something.

This is also another prime example of you being unable to follow the conversation. The conversation is about applying quant techniques to social science data so that is why we are focused on that. You take this as evidence of what we do in our actual research. Do you really lack the basic comprehension to knwo the difference?

5/21/2008 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They can be used. The question is what is their analytical value?"

Well as you yourself have "demonstrated" there are many differing definitions that people have about certain concepts. Clearly and mathematically stating the way one is using the term removes doubt in the readers mind as to what particular definition one is using.

5/21/2008 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You take this as evidence of what we do in our actual research.

Unfortunately, yes.

5/21/2008 7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly and mathematically stating the way one is using the term removes doubt in the readers mind as to what particular definition one is using.

By analytical, I mean what does it tell us about the actual operation of reality.

5/21/2008 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That is precisely the problem. People can reasonably and legitimately disagree as to the definition (indicators) I put forward.

This exercise you suggest is telling, because it demonstrates that you (and other quants) are not interested in the actual operation of reality -- but in only showing your methods can be adapted to social science data. Thus, you do care which indicators are actually reflective of democracy, but only that your approach can be applied -- to what end I am unsure.


This is called "doing research." If you don't like the operationalization of the variable, that's just fine and you should do it better. Any first-year graduate student can complain. A real scholar makes an improvement.

5/21/2008 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't like the operationalization of the variable, that's just fine and you should do it better.

I am interested to know what this means?

5/21/2008 7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP, I am interested in hearing your response to 5/21/2008 6:57 AM.

5/21/2008 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't like the operationalization of the variable, that's just fine and you should do it better.

So you have no specific (scientific) defense of your operationalization of variables.

In a sense it must be nice to publish in so-called political science journals that do not care about the scientific study of politics. It seemingly makes life easier -- although probably less satisfying.

5/21/2008 7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


So you have no specific (scientific) defense of your operationalization of variables.


Sure I do. But if you disagree with my definition and can do it better, by all means have at it. I'm not Stalin, after all, refusing to listen to any criticism.

Now, please respond to 5/21/2008 6:57 AM.

5/21/2008 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure I do. But if you disagree with my definition and can do it better, by all means have at it. I'm not Stalin, after all, refusing to listen to any criticism.

It has nothing to do with refusing to listen to criticism. (You are just hiding behind this notion.) It has to do with the fact that your definitions are objective or arbitrary. Your response indicates your tacit acknowledgment that your operationalization of variables is subjective/arbitrary. As someone wrote earlier: "ignorance is acceptable but a refusal to concede shortcomings is not" (I am paraphrasing).

5/21/2008 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your operationalization of variables is subjective/arbitrary

What variables have I operationalized?

Please respond to 5/21/2008 6:57 AM.

5/21/2008 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it must be nice to publish in so-called political science journals that do not care about the scientific study of politics.

In a way, this gets exactly at why I am asking you to tell us how you would carry out a study of the cognition that shapes public policy formation (i.e., state behavior).

You are constantly (though, in my view, unsuccessfully) criticizing other peoples research, but have not once given us an idea of how you carry out your research in a "scientific" manner.

One of the characteristics of science is transparency and openness. I think we have amply stated our views on how political science research can be carried out. Now please tell us how you do it so that we can evaluate your methodology and see whether it is really as "scientific" as you claim.

In case you forgot, this was your idea of a research topic and my response:

You said: One example would be the cognition that shapes public policy formation (i.e., state behavior).

I said: OK. Now we are getting somewhere. Now, what exactly do you mean by "public policy formation"?

And, if you don't mind telling me, how would you go about studying this?

5/21/2008 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has to do with the fact that your definitions are objective or arbitrary.

I presume you mean "subjective." And these definitions are not subjective. In the democracy example, you yourself claimed that its definition is not subjective.

See, I told you to be careful in your response. You've just been 8:09ed again. BAM.

5/21/2008 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, I told you to be careful in your response. You've just been 8:09ed again. BAM.

I didn't know that Emeril was posting here. BAM! BAM! BAM!

5/21/2008 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the democracy example, you yourself claimed that its definition is not subjective.

A seemingly better way to state it is that one's indicators of "democracy" are arbitrary.

5/21/2008 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the one who asked about temperature. Boy, he walked right into that one, didn't he? Does that count as 8:09'ing him?

So now we know that measures of temperature are arbitrary--I could come up with my own scale, and it wouldn't be better/worse than Celsius/Farenheit/Kelvin or whatnot. As long as it is a reliable and valid measure of what I claim it is measuring.

ILP just showed how his rationale for rejecting quantification in political science while accepting it in the natural sciences is completely and utterly baseless.

He had to be shown a Wikipedia page to understand his shortcoming. a WIKIPEDIA page, for cryin' out loud!

What a great way to start off the day...

5/21/2008 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, but most Wikipedia pages are really sweet.

5/21/2008 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the one who asked about temperature. Boy, he walked right into that one, didn't he? Does that count as 8:09'ing him?

Absolutely my friend. Hook-line-sinker.

5/21/2008 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So now we know that measures of temperature are arbitrary--I could come up with my own scale, and it wouldn't be better/worse than Celsius/Farenheit/Kelvin or whatnot. As long as it is a reliable and valid measure of what I claim it is measuring.

As long your measure was clearly specified, it could serve as a legitimate means to measure temperature, and it would be an actual representation of reality.

5/21/2008 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This should have gone with the prior post:

In the case of democracy, any specification is going to be arbitrary, and not an actual representation of how "democracy" operates in reality.

5/21/2008 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know who you're talking about, but for the projects I'm familiar with, their indicators come directly from the definition of democracy.

What definition? In other words, describe this definition.

5/21/2008 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long your measure was clearly specified, it could serve as a legitimate means to measure temperature, and it would be an actual representation of reality.

So if my scale was 1 when it was hot and 0 when it was not that would be fine? And of course 2 would mean "twice-as-hot".

5/21/2008 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP: If your way of political science research is so much more scientific than others', why don't you at least tell us how you would study the topic that you identified? How would you identify how cognition shapes policy formation (i.e., state behavior)?

5/21/2008 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What definition? In other words, describe this definition.


It's not my research. You're the one who says that all operationalizations of democracy are arbitrary. So you don't even know these definitions but you confidently claim they're arbitrary?

Uh-oh. Somebody's about to get 8:09ed again.

5/21/2008 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP, please respond to 5/21/2008 6:57 AM.

5/21/2008 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if my scale was 1 when it was hot and 0 when it was not that would be fine? And of course 2 would mean "twice-as-hot".

You prove my point -- namely, that while the logic of numbers is readily adapted to matter, words (i.e., qualitative concepts) are not. Of course, it is exactly the opposite with political/social phenomena.

5/21/2008 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that while the logic of numbers is readily adapted to matter, words (i.e., qualitative concepts) are not.

That is for the purposes of measurement.

5/21/2008 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ILP, please respond to 5/21/2008 6:57 AM.

5/21/2008 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it clear that the answer to 6:57AM is that ILP doesn't understand measurement? That he doesn't understand interval and interval-ratio variables?

He doesn't want to answer it, because he knows that it would discredit him totally.

Why are we wasting time arguing with someone who obviously is way in over his head?

5/21/2008 12:25 PM  

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