Sunday, 4 March 2007

The only sane reaction to the FBI anti-piracy warning

BigJim has the poster, which I assume originates from the other side of the pond.

Economists 1, political scientsts 0

Arnold Kling takes apart the book The Logic of Political Survival by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita et al. A taste of the critique:

In my opinion, the authors of The Logic of Political Survival should not be criticized for mishandling data.

They should be arrested. Imprisoned. Only released back into the community with warnings to neighbors to protect your children. ...

[I]t is only interesting to tests constraints on the data that are imposed by theory. In this case, the constraints are being imposed by simple incompetence.

The Logic of Political Survival is a stimulating and provocative book. I was impressed by the authors’ use of historical examples, particularly the use of King Leopold’s different approaches to governing Belgium and the Congo as a “natural experiment” demonstrating that institutional characteristics matter more than the leader’s personality. However, in my view, the attempts to introduce formal game theory and econometrics did more harm than good. Rather than bridge the gulf between political scientists and economists, they widened it—as far as I am concerned—by their shameful and unseemly conduct with the data.

þ: Dirk, via email, who by virtue of his educational background represents the winning side in this argument.