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Sunday
Nov152015

RS147 - Andrew Gelman on "Why do Americans vote the way they do?"

Release date: November 15, 2015

Andrew GelmanAndrew GelmanThere are two contradictory stories about politics and class: On the one hand, that the Republicans are the party of the fat cat businessmen and the Democrats are the party of the people. And on the other hand, that the Republicans are the party of the salt-of-the-earth Joe Sixpacks, while the Democrats are latte-sipping elites. In this episode, professor of statistics and political science Andrew Gelman shines some clarifying light on the intersection between politics and class in America, explaining what the numbers really show. He and Julia also cover the question, "Is it rational to vote?"

 

Gelman's "other picks":

Podcast edited by Brent Silk

 

Full Transcripts 

 

Reader Comments (2)

I enjoyed this episode, and as many others I'm a fan of Andrew Gelman.

In the episode summary, I was excited to see that the paradox of not voting would be finally discussed in Rationally Speaking. Although I was hoping for a longer discussion, Gelman's insights were already interesting. I like the idea that the expected value (from an altruistic perspective) of voting can exceed the individual cost, given that a vast number of people can be affected by political decisions. But how likely is this to happen in reality? And how do I know that my vote is better than others'? Taking these into account, and considering that I could do something more productive for society instead of going voting, isn't voting still irrational in the vast majority of cases?

To me this is one of the most difficult and important philosophical problems, so I'm really hoping that an entire episode will be devoted to it. I'd especially like to hear discussions about pro-voting arguments such as "what if everybody did that?" or "it's your duty as citizen". I hear them a lot, including from otherwise rational people, but I doubt their validity. People also often get very emotional about this.
November 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPierre Dragicevic
Extremely small probability for an extremely large outcome is like playing the lottery.
Ultimately it does come down to "what if everybody did that?" same as with getting vaccinated, not littering, etc. If a few people transgress, it's not a big deal, but if enough people do it, the election loses legitimacy, herd immunity is lost, and the pollution becomes unbearable.
November 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMax

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