Math to Make You Feel Good As A Republican

So it is looking like the Republicans juiced their own internal polling, 'unskewing' to satisfy what they thought the numbers should be. Josh Marshall is asking if the 'unskewing' that came to life in unskewedpolls.com and Rove's Fox numbers didn't originate in the Romney campaign. Matt Yglesias thinks this ignorance of social science makes the Republican Party incapable of good policy.

The social sciences and the use of statistics have been prominent this election cycle, led by Nate Silver and John Sides, but there have been numerous others as well. To be truthful it is expected as statistics is good at making sense of large noisy systems by taking small subsets of data. The surprise is that the professionals in the Republican Party who are supposedly good at this sort of thing discarded that discipline and fixed the numbers to their liking. But why?

Conservative media is pretty repugnant, largely because they lie and deceive for political purposes. There is a symbiosis there as it is profitable - fox makes a lot of money for Rupert Murdoch - and it seems the audience for that news and type of reporting enjoys it. On cable at least Fox gets really good ratings. it also seems that the Republican elite that run the party enjoy it too and there is a completely closed loop there between the Republican party, its operatives, its media and its supporters. To the point that science and statistics can be ignored if it is outside that loop; that rationality.

I didn't think that these people believed it. I thought they knew they were being dishonest, cynical and understood that they were entertainers as a means to sidestep the ethical and moral issues of deceiving that openly. This suggests the opposite. That they believe it too. Roves melt down on Fox on election night - and he is a big insider - suggests that is true. The Republican Party, including its elites, its base and its operatives have a different rationality to the Democratic Party, to most voters and to America.

One of the concepts of human rationality is that a person who adheres to one rationality finds another totally alien and cannot grasp it. For instance prior to Galileo and Newton the rationality was of that God 'moved' everything and God's creations were at the center of the universe. If you expose someone who has grown up in that rationality to the fact that the sun is at the center of the universe and gravity moves things. They will not believe it. This is why rationality often takes generations to change.

People such as myself who grew up in a post-enlightenment democracy, cannot understand the rationality that would think slavery and inalienable human rights conditional. Yet we have historical proof that a lot of people prior to the 1960/70s thought that was true and some people were better than others. Often for nothing more than the color of their skin.

Maybe a good example of this rationality change is the 'reality based community' quote that has been attributed to Karl Rove from Suskind's book;

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."


The quote is preposterous but given the events of the 2012 Presidential election totally believable that the mind which sees this rationality as possible will reject the empirical rigor of statistics choosing their own reality over science.

I think Yglesias has a point. It brings into doubt the Republican party's ability to make policy in any sensible or empirical manner. Social Science often does redefine what common-sense really is. What seems right from the cultural stomach is often wrong when put under the microscope of social science. Accepting that the data is right is difficult when it goes against every bone in your body, but, science is science. It has given us the 21stC for a reason.
cam 2012-11-12 18:42:08.0