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The deterministic theory of politics – people know how they will vote months in advance

January 2nd, 2015
  • Britons know their political destiny – “Britain’s general election takes place in May, but it is already over. Most people know how they will vote. Waverers who end up making a late choice were always going to go that way. Elections are decided by fundamentals that take shape over years, not by the vicissitudes of a campaign that starts now. This is the deterministic theory of politics. It does not allow for the purchase that campaigns can have on a race as tight as this one, but it is generally right. The coming months — the posters, the manifestos, the daily media cycles “won” by one party or another — will matter less than the accretion of events since the last election. May’s result is encoded in the minds of voters already: all politicians can do is bring it out.”
  • Japan’s Population Declined In 2014 As Births Fell To A New Low
  • Happiness and satisfaction are not everything: Toward wellbeing indices based on stated preference – “There is growing interest in alternative measures of national wellbeing, such as happiness or life satisfaction. This column argues that a small number of survey questions are unlikely to capture all the aspects of wellbeing that matter to people. Using a stated-preference survey, the authors find several aspects of wellbeing to be important that are not commonly included in wellbeing surveys, such as those related to family, values, and security. This approach could be used to provide weights for wellbeing indices.”big fat surprise
  • Are some diets “mass murder”? – Richard Smith ploughed his way through five books on diet and some of the key studies to write this article for the Beitish Medical Journal – “By far the best of the books I’ve read to write this article is Nina Teicholz’s The Big Fat Surprise, whose subtitle is “Why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet.”3 The title, the subtitle, and the cover of the book are all demeaning, but the forensic demolition of the hypothesis that saturated fat is the cause of cardiovascular disease is impressive. Indeed, the book is deeply disturbing in showing how overenthusiastic scientists, poor science, massive conflicts of interest, and politically driven policy makers can make deeply damaging mistakes. Over 40 years I’ve come to recognise what I might have known from the beginning that science is a human activity with the error, self deception, grandiosity, bias, self interest, cruelty, fraud, and theft that is inherent in all human activities (together with some saintliness), but this book shook me.”
  • Assessment of the potential for international dissemination of Ebola virus via commercial air travel during the 2014 west African outbreak – From The Lancer: “Based on epidemic conditions and international flight restrictions to and from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as of Sept 1, 2014 (reductions in passenger seats by 51% for Liberia, 66% for Guinea, and 85% for Sierra Leone), our model projects 2·8 travellers infected with Ebola virus departing the above three countries via commercial flights, on average, every month. … Exit screening of travellers at airports in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone would be the most efficient frontier at which to assess the health status of travellers at risk of Ebola virus exposure, however, this intervention might require international support to implement effectively.”
  • Where Will All the Workers Go? – “Recent technological advances have three biases: They tend to be capital-intensive (thus favoring those who already have financial resources); skill-intensive (thus favoring those who already have a high level of technical proficiency); and labor-saving (thus reducing the total number of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs in the economy). The risk is that robotics and automation will displace workers in blue-collar manufacturing jobs before the dust of the Third Industrial Revolution settles.”

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