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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Smart Chicago professor will not vote for Obama

Another liberal professor has escaped Barack Obama's hypnotic spell. The Chicago economist of Freakonomics fame explains on his podcast:
Steven LEVITT: I voted for Obama because I wanted to tell my grandchildren that I voted for Obama. And I thought that he would be the greatest president in history.

DUBNER: And?

LEVITT: I don’t think I’m going to bother voting this election.
I am waiting for one of these guys to explain how so many otherwise-intelligent professors could be so gullible in 2008.

Levitt goes on to argue that voting is irrational:
DUBNER: So Levitt, how can you in your life, when you wander around, tell the difference between a smart person and a not-so-smart person?

LEVITT: Well, one good indicator of a person who’s not so smart is if they vote in a presidential election because they think their vote might actually decide which candidate wins.
Levitt is not correct about that. As AP reported:
Trying to figure out what the odds would be if the polls are wrong and the race is tighter than expected, the statisticians made some more calculations after boosting John McCain's numbers across the board and figured the average person would then have a 1 in 12 million chance of their vote deciding the election.

Either way, "it's still a chance, it's like buying a Powerball ticket," said study lead author Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University.
Gelman explained Levitt's error last year, and back in 2005.

Update: Gelman responds to this post, and further explains why Levitt is wrong.

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