Increasing Marginal Utility

A blog so good it violates the law of diminishing marginal utility.

browsing catharsis – 03.30.11

Gangsta dog.

Obama is George H. W. Bush, not George W. Bush.

A pop rock song for Kansas City Royals fans.

Arnold Kling angry in congressional testimony. He was borderline uncivil, but the Committee Chairman overreacted as well. I was just rather Kling stop emphasizing Freddie, Fannie, and the CRA’s role in the crisis, because emphasizing them over other factors is a position I no longer consider credible.

Dilbert ripping on green jobs a little.

Why can’t America agree on anything except that Rebecca Black sucks?

Republicans are on average more literate in science than Democrats and Moderates. I don’t mean to defend Republicans, but left-liberals endlessly cite anything demonstrating that being progressive is somehow more scientific or intelligent by nature. Moreover, this study did something I never thought of before. Just as Republicans are more likely not to believe in evolution, Democrats are more likely to believe that astrology is for real. These positions on scientific matters are everything ideology and not a sign of intelligence. Perhaps Republicans’ ideological bias against evolution has some real negative effects, but “not caring that food has been genetically modified” and “not believing that all pesticides cause cancer” are much more important from the standpoint of human welfare. Besides, I don’t think Republicans would be so skeptical of evolution if the Dawkins crowd wouldn’t keep on insisting on the non-sequitur meme that evolution disproves religion.

Someone I know released a dance music album. Give it a shot if you don’t hate “techno.” You could probably classify it as house or chiptune if you want a genre to shoehorn it into.

There’s going to be a seminar on sabermetrics at Harvard this May. I’m on the fence on whether I’ll apply. It will kill an entire weekend and I have zero interest in learning about the physics side of analytics, and two of the sessions are on that.

2 responses to “browsing catharsis – 03.30.11

  1. WiL March 30, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I gotta say, I’m a little confused about the scientific literacy by party affiliation thing — the study that you link to is responding to another post from “The Audacious Epigone”, but the data is completely different: just starting at the top, the Discover post has the following data:

    Liberate Moderate Conservative
    Astrology not scientific 66 61 73
    Benefits of science outweight harm 77 70 77

    …whereas the “Epigone” post shows the following:

    Item Dem Ind Rep
    Astrology is not scientific 64.3% 55.7% 75.1%
    The benefits of science exceed the harms 73.3% 66.2% 78.0%

    That’s not even a rounding error issue. Also, according to the Discovery post, the political views are defined by the numbers thus: 1-3 “Liberal” ; 4 “Moderate”; 5-7 “Conservative”. In the Epigone post however, the definitions are: PARTYID(0-2)(3)(4-6).

    And anyway, I took the numbers from the Discovery post, totaled up the pro-science responses, and liberals actually come out ahead of conservatives, by an average of 1.7 percentage points per question. When I total it up by questions won, liberals beat conservatives on 8 questions, and conservatives beat liberals on only 7. So I’m really not sure where the conclusion comes from.

    • rhmurphy March 30, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      I’m not following you. I see the discrepancies, and they aren’t rounding errors, but they don’t change the conclusions of reading the analysis. I’d bet cash that they were some residual of some trivial rejiggering of definitions needed to jam the data into the statistics package he was using. It might be the political view ID numbers issue you gave.
      Besides, the differences are red herrings and if anything hurt your case. In the original epigone post, Republicans outdo Democrats in sixteen out of nineteen cases, a much stronger signal than anything else until you start getting to the logistic regressions.
      Your averaging of incommensurate numbers conceals an essential point- that 1.7% difference is entirely an artifact of the whopping 30 point advantage Democrats have over Republicans on the issue of evolution. Unless you believe that evolution deserves that much weight in defining what we mean by general scientific literacy, it’s not pertinent.
      Finally, I note your strongest point, which is that the Discover post has Democrats outmatching Republicans by a slight advantage. However, two things:
      1. The original data source you pointed out has data that fits much better with the verbal story told in both posts, suggesting it was the correct one and the change was the result of some “noise” we can’t identify from the outside looking in.
      2. The entire point of the Discover post wasn’t to repost the epigone results while doing a bad copy-paste job. It was to do that logistic analysis. That’s where the real nuanced results come in.

      I framed the link as I did more because I was entertained by the fact that progressives will latch onto any similar survey and use it as evidence that they are The Chosen People. The most I’d be willing to grant, making the absurd assumption that the only thing in these posts that counts is the 8-7 record in the flawed copy-paste, is that progressives and self-identified Republicans are equal when it comes to scientific knowledge. I also like it when I can get progressives to do this

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