Do we read Shakespeare because it’s good or because it’s historically significant?

One of the most significant developments lately in terms of framing libertarianism has been the advent of the “Bleeding-Heart Libertarian” blog. I know most of the contributors personally (and I’m electronically-acquainted with all of them), and there’s not one I don’t respect. Their mission statement says they are “libertarians who believe that addressing the needs … Continue reading Do we read Shakespeare because it’s good or because it’s historically significant?

Silver on Model Overfitting

Over at 538, Nate Silver has an excellent discussion of the perils of "overfitting" statistical forecasting models. It's good enough that I could see assigning it to my students in methods courses. Incidentally, I would argue that the opposite peril ("underfitting" if you will) is more common in standard, hypothesis-testing political science research. Because the … Continue reading Silver on Model Overfitting

Unionization and Taxes, Part Two

At The Monkey Cage, Andrew Gelman takes issue with my post on union density and tax collections by state. I argued that states with higher percentages of workers covered by collective-bargaining contracts have higher tax collections as a percentage of personal income, and that the relationship is probably causal. Gelman argues that it is inappropriate … Continue reading Unionization and Taxes, Part Two

The “Causal Density” of Human Behavior

A piece by Jim Manzi in the City Journal explains why Keynesians and non-Keynesians will still be debating stimulus programs in the 22nd century: social science is inherently limited in situations where there is no counterfactual, because each data point is sui generis. In other words, a causal relationship that might hold under one set … Continue reading The “Causal Density” of Human Behavior