Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Political Science Math Problem of the Week

This was circulated on twitter:

Folks answered it with snark:

Of course, no political scientist would kidnap somebody who scoffed at political science as a scientific endeavor.  Otherwise, they would not get anything done.  Ours is not called the dismal science because people at least give Econ that much.  Nope, we have Tom Ricks and his ilk who dismiss what we do, and all we do is respond with words, not kidnapping. 

If political scientists were to kidnap those who scoff at us, well, then we would have to resolve the prisoner's dilemma--how to make sure the kidnapping team do not turn on each other.  Here's the good news--with an endless supply of those who hold us in contempt, it would be an iterated game that might never end.  So, the kidnapping political scientists could manage to cooperate, if Robert Axelrod was right.

So, if a few political scientists were to kidnap a poli sci skeptic, how would one answer the question above?  The first step would be to ascertain their subfield:
  • one could get theorists talking about the nature of justice for hours, distracting them while one gets loose.
  • if they are americanists, then one just has to figure out who is the principal and who is the agent in the relationship and then try to exacerbate the hidden information problem.
  • if they are comparativists, then the best tactic would be to ask about how contingent repression and dissent are.  They will be so confused that you can escape pretty easily.
  • if they are IR folks, then the best strategy is to get them arguing who is really a realist.  Could take them weeks to figure it out.
I am sure there are other ways to play the game, as political science is not nearly as linear as this math problem.

1 comment:

SamStanton said...

My national security folks would want to divide into three teams. One to be the kidnappers who are seeking to make a political statement through the action. The second to try to stop the kidnapping or secure the release of the kidnapped individual. The third group would work on how to keep kidnapping from happening again by addressing the perceived problems the kidnapper's were intent on sending a message about through the action they chose.