Social Interaction, the Media, and Democracy

In a previous essay, I speculated on the effect of media on citizens. In this essay, I extend that discussion to consider how social interaction is intertwined with media effects. Furthermore, since reasonable communication and deliberation are norms we associate with republican or deliberative democracy, I also examine how social interaction among citizens affects our views on democracy. Social Interaction as a Political Phenomenon In order to navigate the political world and make decisions that benefit them, human beings need to be able to learn about politics.

Hogwarts House Demographics

Note: This post also available on MuggleNet. Gryffindors are brave, Ravenclaws smart, Slytherins evil, and Hufflepuffs miscellaneous. This much we know from the Harry Potter books. What we don’t know is the makeup of each House in terms of its demographics. Which House is for the rich? Which house has the greatest diversity? Is there a gender imbalance per house? Are Slytherins really as ethnocentric as they appear in the books?

Lessons from an Experiment in South Africa

This week I read Harris and Findlay’s 2014 article in the Journal of Conflict Resolution: “Is Ethnicity Identifiable? Lessons from an Experiment in South Africa.” They ran an experiment among Xhosas in the Eastern Cape, having them guess the ethnicity of actors in a series of photos and videos in different experimental conditions. They found that respondents performed abysmally in correctly identifying ethnicity (see Table 1 from p.15 of their work, reproduced below), but also that those who identified more strongly with their ethnic group performed slightly (although not much) better.

2020 Reading Review

2020 may have been a bad year in general, but it was a pretty good year for reading. Books are pandemic-proof. And so, without further ado, I present my much-too-serious review of my year’s reading. Another step in my journey of quantifying every aspect of my life. Next year I’ve got to remember to track my television and movie consumption. At least I read more than last year anyway.

Third Party Voting

I know what you’re thinking–“you’re just throwing away your vote!” I disagree. To help me explain why, I’m going to rely on the classic “Calculus of Voting” equation (see this Wikipedia article for an explanation, although I am using the John Aldrich (1993) version): R = PB + D - C Which says that voting is rewarding(R) only if the probability(P) of the vote changing the outcome and the benefit(B) you’ll receive from the party you favour winning plus the psychological boost you get from doing your democratic duty(D) is greater than the cost(C) of voting.