Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Papers I would like to write

Whenever I get an idea I scribble it down on a sheet of paper and draw a little thought bubble at the top. This is an ongoing post with a list of papers I would like to write. Some of them are actual viable political or social science ideas. Others are things way out of my field, or ideas that might not be quite worth my time.

  1. Use "Blink"-style analysis of interviewers' posture, voice etc. when talking to politicians from different parties to provide an objective test of media bias.
  2. Why do human parents seek to control their children's sexual behaviour? This is AFAIK unique among animals. It is quite hard to understand from a genetic point of view: your children's interest in maximizing fitness is identical to your own (apart from the issue of degrees of relatedness, which might conceivably make a difference e.g. in cultures where people marry their cousins). Is the parental behaviour cultural or is there a genetic component? How did it arise?
  3. Hobbes' theory of the church in Leviathan Chapter XII seems to foreshadow modern economic theories of religion. He actually mentions the church before he gets to the state. It would be an interesting topic in intellectual history.
  4. Modelling how a city's size is affected by the size of other nearby cities. You might expect big cities to "drain" the population of near neighbours. The model could be applicable to other phenomena - firms in markets, even countries.
  5. How to extend formal models of elections to include the spread of information about policy through the population.
  6. Small churches and political parties seem to suffer more splits than large ones. Why? A formal model invoking control over resources and the ability to buy off potential splitters might help.
  7. Media analysis of how reporting of US politics has increased in non-US countries. A simple hit count for "senator" and "president" versus "MP" and "Prime Minister" would be a start.

I'll keep posting these as I remember them. There are a lot more!