Disavowing Strategy is a Strategic Move!

A friend on twitter sent me a message about a New York Times Op-Ed piece by a game theorist that ostensibly suggests real-world limitations of game theory. Yanis Varoufakis, economist, game theorist, and current Finance Minister of Greece opined that the delicate negotiations with Greece’s debt issues is a serious issue and the game theory world devoted to Poker and Black Jack is incapable of capturing the tense negotiations. Fundamentally, Varoufakis argues that Greece is not playing games at the negotiation table and they are not using some sort of psychological tricks or strategic moves to secure a better bargain Continue reading Disavowing Strategy is a Strategic Move!

Recent Lessons from Games for Political Science

The board and video game world this past week have at least two compelling reports that offer some lessons for political science. First, David Hill did both a write up for Grantland and a segment on This American Life about the Diplomacy (the game) world championships. Players in this game have to focus on territorial control and creating/maintaining alliances. This strategic game from the 1950s lacks a true randomization component (dice, coin flips, etc.). However, the game is not Chess either.  Instead, the components that makes the interaction dynamic from game to game are the relationships between the players (up to seven) and the Continue reading Recent Lessons from Games for Political Science

Educational Attainment and Race in Alabama

A part of my responsibilities as a post-doc here at Alabama entails helping faculty with seeking out external funding for projects. One of these projects has involved developing a program to promote educational outreach throughout the state. In the course of this work I’ve been digging through some data on educational attainment rates in Alabama. In terms of learning about the political and economic characteristics of my new state, this has been an informative exercise. I also think it’s helpful in illustrating the benefits of digging through your data, and helps to shed some light on the benefits of considering Continue reading Educational Attainment and Race in Alabama

Political Science and Scientists in the News

Just a quick link to this Atlantic article. It features several works by political scientists on why and when the public is likely to support military action. Complete with graphs and everything.    *Picture taken from the aforementioned and linked Atlantic article. 

History vs. Political Science? Temporally Constrained Studies and Generalizability.

So this is my first post back from a prolonged break. As I mentioned in a previous—albeit brief—entry, I’ve had a busy but enjoyable summer. I got married, defended my dissertation at the beginning of July, and my wife and I have since relocated to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where I’ve accepted a position as a post-doc. We’re both pretty excited about the move and we’re really enjoying ourselves. Having grown up in the Adirondacks in upstate New York, summers that extend beyond a two month window have a certain appeal. And now that we’re getting settled in down here, I’m slowly Continue reading History vs. Political Science? Temporally Constrained Studies and Generalizability.

Tom Coburn’s Grudge, Part II

Via Jennifer Diascro's Twitter feed: The Economist has an article up addressing the specific targeting of Political Science Research by Senator Coburn. The article addresses a point that I've brought up a couple of times in the past (see here for example). Specifically, why only political science? The Economist: The real debate seems to be over what is of value. For many Republicans the answer is nothing having to do with political science. Yet it is hard to see how that discipline is any more frivolous than—or even all that different from—economics, sociology or anthropology.Mr Coburn's measure wouldn’t touch NSF funding for Continue reading Tom Coburn’s Grudge, Part II


Just a couple of links, comments, etc. Six seismologists in Italy have recently been convicted and sentenced to six years in prison (each) for issuing a "falsely reassuring statement" prior to the 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy (BBC Article). The seismologists have been charged with manslaughter over the deaths of over 300 people in the quake, and have also been barred from holding public office ever again in the future. Yesterday's BBC Global News Podcast (Monday, October 22 AM) has some additional details on the situation behind this particular event—apparently there were a series of smaller quakes in the preceding Continue reading Updates

Military Capabilities

Phil Arena has a very cool post up wherein he explores a potential alternative to the ubiquitous CINC score for measuring military capabilities. This strikes me as something that is long overdue.  And there are a couple of things that I like about the measure just from taking a quick glance at it. First, given that China just launched its first aircraft carrier, which is actually a refurbished Soviet carrier if I recall correctly, I think the notion that China has already surpassed the US in terms of military capabilities is a big pill to swallow. Second, just glancing at Continue reading Military Capabilities

On the Utility of IR Research

At the Duck of Minerva, Josh Busby has a post on the gap between political science research/IR and the policymaking community. I don't have a whole lot to say about the specific content of Busby's post, aside from the fact that I think this is an interesting an important debate to have. (Also, please note that the links in the quotations were provided in Busby's original post).