Saturday, January 22, 2011

Note to Gelman -- first fill its mouth with salt, then light candles, then decapitate

Andrew Gelman is once again going after the voting-is-irrational zombie (disinterred this time by the Freakonomics team). Gelman shows, using estimates that if anything err on the conservative side, that the possibility of influencing an election, though small, can still easily be associated with a reasonable expected value.

This particular zombie has been shambling through the dark corridors of pop econ books and columns for years now (Gelman himself has been monster hunting since at least 2005), but every time the creature seems truly dead and buried, along comes someone like Landsburg or Levitt, someone who's smart enough and mathematically literate enough to know better, but who just can't resist digging up the grave.

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