Thursday, 18 June 2009

Am I missing something?

So what's the actual evidence that the Iranian elections were fraudulent?

The National Post reports a poll that put Ahmadinejad ahead by 2 to 1. There's a statistical analysis here which basically gives no answer. (It looks for evidence of made-up poll numbers and finds none; it finds deviations in favour of Ahmanidejad compared to a model based on 2005 election results, and on growth in turnout, in certain areas. That could be for a hundred reasons (think about trying to estimate a model of the recent Euro elections, based on turnout and 2005 results).

I can't stand Ahmadinejad and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the election was rigged, but where is the evidence?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Pop quiz

Which brilliant young evolutionary economist said the following recently?

XXXXX: 13.30-15.00
Motion: Let it be resolved that this conference believes that the notion of prediction has high value as a criterion for research in social sciences.
[00:12:01] … i'll tell you who will win...
[00:12:29] David Hugh-Jones: go on
[00:12:53] XXXXX: ?
[00:13:01] David Hugh-Jones: who will win?
[00:13:13] XXXXX: well, that is the motion
[00:13:27] … the conference vote about it at the beginning
[00:13:44] … i'll vote against, of course

Saturday, 13 June 2009


I put up the presentation that I gave at the M-BEES conference on my website. The first slides are a bit cryptic. In order:

  1. Title slide.
  2. Families watch striking miners return to work. Strikes are a good example of the need to cooperate outside of a contractual framework.
  3. Worshippers at a church in Virginia. Religion and rituals have been explained as costly signals of commitment to a particular group.
  4. Simeon Stylites, who spent 37 years on top of a pillar. Costly signalling can be very costly.
  5. Still from There Will Be Blood. But if it's not costly enough, it fails to deter selfish people from entering the community. (You'll know what I mean if you've seen the film.)
  6. Examples of anonymous rituals: marching and uniforms.
  7. Examples of anonymous rituals: music. Gertrude Bell has a fabulous quote on this which is in the powerpoint notes.
  8. More examples: church donations, Secret Santa, anonymous voting.
  9. ... and applause. (Spot the Stalin connection.)
After that it gets more ordinary.

Friday, 12 June 2009

The guardian's data blog is quite fun

I did this as a break from the actual real empirics I'm doing. Needless to say, you'd be crazy to take this seriously. I was hoping to see the opposite: Mum's a strong UKIP supporter and I figured they would be substitutes. Maybe in the individual voting calculus they are (the data points are constituencies).