BK Drinkwater has posted a good response to some of the comments on Bryce Edwards’ synopses of chapters from the book Informing Voters? Politics, Media and the New Zealand Election 2008 (edited by Chris Rudd, Janine Hayward and Geoff Craig of the University of Otago Politics department). In comments to BK’s post, Eric Crampton recommended Groseclose & Milyo‘s paper on the topic. Having not read the book, I’ll constrain my comments to the posts, comments and paper which I have read.
[Apologies, this is a long and dry post on a topic very dear to my heart. I also banged it up in a spare couple of hours while I ought to have been sleeping, and haven’t proofed it, so it may be incoherent. I reserve the right to subedit it without notice. The rest is over the break.]
Over at The Standard the aptly-titled Mathemagician has been snapped trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat to prove that the government’s student loan carrot is in fact a stick.
This is fundamentally the problem with True Believers – they’re so committed to an ideological position (in this case, that National are trying to rip everyone off) that they’re credulous to the point of naÃ¯vete. Skeptic founder Michael Shermer lists this as one of the five core reasons Why People Believe Weird Things in his book of the same name: if it suits people’s worldview to believe something, they don’t bother to examine it too closely for fear they might prove themselves wrong.
The most cursory bit of critical thinking about this topic ought to have revealed it was all smoke and mirrors, but there wasn’t even that – in this sense it’s sort of like Schneier’s Law, viz:
Any person can invent a security system so clever that he or she can’t imagine a way of breaking it.
Since they’ve deleted the old table showing the original calculation, here’s a screenshot. Good work, Pat.