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Thursday
Jun232016

Travel report: Is even the vote (not to mention all the voting) on Brexit irrational?...

So I was in Cambridge for the outstanding 7th Annual Risk Studies Summit  at Cambridge University's world-class Centre for Risk Studies this week (now am in San Fran for a couple).

Will write a separate report on that event.  But today on this Brexit business ...

Boy were folks in Cambridge depressed!

People there at least seem to be of one mind on the issue --

But what really seems to bug them is that the issue us up for a vote, and it looks like it will be close (we'll find out presently if so).  How can it be that so many people don't see things the way we do?, they are asking in consternation; what does that mean about the competence of our democratic electorate?

Sound familiar?

Well here's something familiar too:

The Online Privacy Foundation adapted the CCP Motivated Numeracy study to views on Brexit and in a study released yesterday observed the same perverse interactions between predispositions and reasoning proficiency.

I haven't had time to do more the casually peruse the results. But my sense is that there was in fact a finding of symmetry in the effect-- that is, that higher numeracy magnified biased information processing regardless of the subjects' Brexit predispositions.

That doesn't measn that the occasion of the vote isn't entangdeled in reason-effacing pathologies-- on the contary, reason is being effaced-- but it does mean (if I'm right aout the results; I reserve the right to reassess on closer examination & will tell you if I do change my view on this) that only one side is being affected by them.

They have some pretty nice graphis, too, I'll say that:

But that's all I have time for for now!  Others might want to chime in on what they think of the OPF study or generally about Brexit and rationality.

Of course, I'll be tuning in along w/ the 14 billion readers of this blog to get the reasults of the vote later today ...

 

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Thank you for your interest in our work.

To add to the above and for other readers. While these are of interim results, we were sufficiently confident with the method and numbers that we chose to share them at this early stage. We will, upon request, make raw data available to others who wish to examine it for themselves. We're also in the process of writing up a formal paper, which covers all the the studies we conducted.

It will, nevertheless, be interesting to see the results of the referendum itself in the morning.

Many thanks,
Chris

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris

@Chris--

thanks for this explanation & for the generous offer to share data w/ others. Great work in the study!

So did you place a bet at Ladbrokes based on the results?

June 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

>>So did you place a bet at Ladbrokes based on the results?
I didn't, but I did by enough US $'s to last me a few vacations in my favourite US destinations if the £ took a significant hit. I'm not sure when a hedge becomes a bet, but I considered that I could stomach losing out on a few % rise, but wouldn't be so happy with a predicted 15-20% dip.

As for our analysis, we were largely interested in differences between the two camp's means. Illustrative graphs aside, we used ANOVA with Post Hoc Tukey, but would be curious to see what conclusions others would arrive at with different approaches. We may add other tests in to the final paper as we'd been looking at Principal Component Analysis, but felt the graphs we used to easier to articulate.

Tomorrow morning is going to be incredibly interesting whatever the result.

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Dan and Chris, what do you think about this analysis?

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/what-do-the-brexit-movement-and-donald-trump-have-in-common

This article is weird though in that it leaps right over another such era, the 1920's and 30's, the US got FDR but Germany...

"Historically, transforming radical parties of the right (or left) into mass movements has required some sort of disaster, such as a major war or an economic depression. Europe in the early twentieth century witnessed both, with cataclysmic results. After the First World War, the introduction of social democracy, the socioeconomic system that most Western countries settled on, delivered steadily rising living standards, which helped to keep the extremists at bay. If prosperity wasn’t shared equally—and it wasn’t—egalitarian social norms and redistributive tax systems blunted some of the inequities that go along with free-market capitalism."

But do you have data to say anything about these two parts?

"But in the past few decades Western countries have been subjected to a triad of forces that, while not as visible or dramatic as wars and depressions, have proved equally destabilizing: globalization, technical progress, and a political philosophy that embraces both. In the United States, it is no coincidence that Trump is doing well in the Rust Belt and other deindustrialized areas. A one-two punch of automation and offshoring has battered these regions, leaving many of their residents ill-equipped to prosper in today’s economy. "

"Similarly, it is not an accident that UKIP is popular in the former mill towns of northern England, in the engineering belt of the West Midlands, and in working-class exurbs of London. "

"For the past half century, the major political parties, on both sides of the Atlantic, have promulgated the idea that free trade and globalization are the keys to prosperity. If you pressed the mainstream economists who advise these parties, they might concede that trade creates losers as well as winners, and that the argument for ever more global integration implicitly assumes that the winners will compensate the losers. "

"Highly educated, professional people tend to work in sectors of the economy that have benefitted from the changes in the international division of labor (e.g., finance, consulting, media, tech) or have been largely spared the rigors of global competition (e.g., law, medicine, academia). From a secure perch on the economic ladder, it is easy to celebrate the gains that technology and globalization have brought, such as a cornucopia of cheap goods in rich countries and rising prosperity in poor ones. It’s also tempting to dismiss the arguments of people who ignore the benefits of this process, or who can’t see that it is irreversible."

"it is a bit hypocritical of those who have benefited” from this economic transformation to be “mocking the poor judgment of its victims”"

(and also apparently, would explain why Brexit mystifies Cambridge).

For historical reference, I'll go back to the English Diggers of 1649:

In 1649
To St George's Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people' s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed
Reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace, they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste land grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it can be
A common treasury for all.

The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Rise up at their command.

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich
While poor men starve

We work, we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to masters
Or pay rent to the lords
We are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory

Stand up now
From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers' claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed -
Only the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
The earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The order came to cut them down

(Karen Casey does a nice job singing this)

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

Perhaps you could explain more?

You say:

==> that higher numeracy magnified biased information processing regardless of the subjects' Brexit predispositions.

And then you say:

==>only one side is being affected by [reason-effacing pathologies]. ==>

I am not able to reconcile those two statements.

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Interesting, I'll have to have a thorough read of that. As I began to write the introduction for our paper (I started that a while back as part of the proposal for the study), I found this paper on UKIP, which you might enjoy reading. 'Understanding UKIP: Identity, Social Change
and the Left Behind'

Ultimately we're interested in how (if?) print media and online discussion deepen the divide and indeed, how they're manipulated with bots. These guys at Oxford are working on the newspaper angle 'Study show that majority of press coverage in EU referendum campaign was heavily skewed in favour of Brexit in first two months of campaign'

On that point, we've collected almost 2 million tweets on the topic and several hundred news articles and intend to explore negative and positive frames in the language.


As for bots, there's some interesting work in that field. DARPA's recent DARPA Twitter Bot Challenge better highlights how some of that is shaping up. Haroon Meer over at Thinkst has done some excellent work in this field too http://thinkst.com/stuff/hitb2014/Thinkst_2014_SockPuppets.pdf and we also did some work which suggested that some people might be more susceptible to interacting with bots here - 'Predicting Susceptibility to Social Bots on Twitter'

Back to your original post, I would like to run the studies again in the Trump / Clinton context, as I suspect there will be similarities between the demographics and that would be interesting to explore. A few years ago I was explaining that the UK isn't as polarized as the US and it turns out that I was either wrong or not right for very long.

I look forward to reading the article you suggested a little later.

ps. I hope the html and formatting works or this will look messy ;-)

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris

>> that higher numeracy magnified biased information processing regardless of the subjects' Brexit predispositions.

I hadn't included that analysis, so I've quickly added that here


Running TukeyHSD, I see some significant (P < 0.05) results for:

- Females, 'Remain' voters in the highest CRT group, G3 between tests D and C. That supports Dan's previous findings

- Male 'Leave' voters in the second highest CRT group, G2, between tests C and B. This arguably supports Dan's previous findings too, but I'll leave that to Dan's analysis once he see's the daya

- Male 'Leave' voters in the lowest CRT group (G0) between tests D and C.

If we consider P < 0.1 to be worth consideratio, I also see::

- Male 'Leave' voters in the second highest CRT group, G2, between tests C and B.

I'd caution that these are interim results, but at the very least it looks like something's going on which warrants further investigation. Personally, even though I'd read Dan's papers, I was flabbergasted by the differences reflected in the graphs. I really hadn't expected to see that so graphically.

Hope that helps.

Cheers
Chris

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris

"Referendum voters intending to vote ‘Leave’ scored significantly higher in the personality trait of Right Wing Authoritarianism, the trait associated with the upkeep and following of established societal traditions, family values and a tendency to be less accepting of outsiders."

I'm curious. Why did you pick this particular combination of characteristics to look at? Why not left-wing authoritarianism vs right-wing liberalism, for example?

In case you're not aware, right wing liberalism holds that traditional values are best, but that people ought to choose to follow them voluntarily, and if they don't that's their choice. Left wing authoritarianism holds that the traditional social order needs to be overturned by force and replaced with a more equal/diverse one; those who resist deserving punishment.

UKIP argue that the EU is left-wing authoritarian, and that they argue for right-wing self-determination. They're not entirely consistent on the point - using a mixture of left-wing and right-wing, authoritarian and liberal arguments, but then so do the Remain crew. For example, the two main arguments against immigration are the dilution of traditional values and culture, which is a right-wing concern, but also the erosion of wages through competition from cheap immigrant labour, which is a left-wing concern. The concern over sovereignty/democracy/self-determination is liberal. One of the major arguments for remaining in Europe are to maintain the protectionist advantages to big business of being inside the customs union and in a position of influence over the regulation of European industry, which is a right-wing concern (and somewhat authoritarian).

It's not a simple categorisation (except to the propagandists). UKIP got a significant number of their supporters from the working class, left-wing labour party, and UKIP themselves don't classify themselves as dogmatically 'right-wing', even if a majority of their supporters come from there. Traditional values, yes, but quite often traditional working class ones. It's complicated.

So I'm wondering - did 'Leave' voters score higher in Right Wing Authoritarianism because they were Right Wing, or because they were Authoritarian? And what, if anything, does the choice of question here tell us about the cognitive biases of the researchers?

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Chris and Dan- But why would it make sense to consider: "Male 'Leave' voters in the second highest CRT group, G2, between tests C and B"; as significant if things don't seem that way for the highest CRT group?

Same for the "Male 'Leave' voters in the second highest CRT group, G2, between tests C and B"

What could be happening in the middle CRT values that don't make it a trend from low to high or high to low?

If CRT has something to do with a willingness to revise strongly held beliefs, and the measure here of immigration reflects some reaction based on that CRT metric, then it seems to me that either there ought to be a trend, or there is some confounding something in the manner in which CRT is determined.

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

An analysis of the global economy that I like is this one by Richard Florida, a counterpoint to Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat.

No, The World is Spiky:

http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/images/issues/200510/world-is-spiky.pdf

People in urban areas are generally highly completive in the global market, and benefit from it. Rural areas, not so much.

Much the same holds true for climate change, with the exception of the facts that many cities are actually located at sea level on coasts, and many globalized urbanites like to fly. Dan? And then, there is the energy needed to keep those computer servers going.

But still, many rural residents live lives very tied to fossil fuels and traditional economies.

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

@Niv

>>I'm curious. Why did you pick this particular combination of characteristics to look at? Why not left-wing authoritarianism vs right-wing liberalism, for example?

The simplest answer was one of convienience and our knowledge on the topic. We knew about Right Wing Authoritarian Scale and that a 'Leave' vote seemed to appeal more to righter-wing voters (from previous elections). Based on our relatively limited knowledge of this fascinating topic, we chose the RWA scale. We'll check out Left Wing scale though and thanks for pointing that out.

Further, we tested for RWA in our 2nd study after seeing some differences emerge in Personality Traits from our 1st study. Openness, Conscientiousness and Neuroticism all displayed interesting differences.

>>And what, if anything, does the choice of question here tell us about the cognitive biases of the researchers

That is a perfectly valid point. One of the reaons Dan's research appealed so much, was that it highlighted that despite differences in CRT scores (between left & right), things gets murky once you alter the nature of the numbers. We felt this added balance from what otherwise would have concluded that 'Remain' voters do better at Numeracy Tests (which they did over 4 seperate studies). Adding to this, we also used the 'Asian Disease Problem' to explore the possibility of a Status Quo bias in 'Remain' voters. Great point though, and that might make for an interesting paper in itself. I'd be open to being 'interviewed' about that if it's something which interests you.

@Gaythia

>> Chris and Dan- But why would it make sense to consider: "Male 'Leave' voters in the second highest CRT group, G2, between tests C and B"; as significant if things don't seem that way for the highest CRT group?

It was a little late last night when I quickly provided that particular graph, so the wording could certainly have been improved. I ran a TukeyHSD against the dataset and those were simply the "significant" results I saw.


>>What could be happening in the middle CRT values that don't make it a trend from low to high or high to low?

I've seen some papers simply split CRT in to high and low, with >= 2 being high. In an email exchange, Dan suggested that CRT wasn't necessarily the best tool for the job, which is why we added the Berlin Numeracy Test (BNT)in study #3. We didn't include BNT in the final study (#6, the one we're talking about) as it was much harder to recruit participants. People seemed to like the 'Bat/Ball' questions, although that introduces a number of limitations. i.e. they pass the test to their friends, so diversity may be skewed and as more people become aware of the CRT questions it arguably loses value. We'll write those limitations up.

>>If CRT has something to do with a willingness to revise strongly held beliefs, and the measure here of immigration reflects some reaction based on that CRT metric, then it seems to me that either there ought to be a trend, or there is some confounding something in the manner in which CRT is determined.

I became interested in CRT as a measure of impulsivity for looking at people interacting with Social Bots and clicking Phishing links and added it out of mere curiosity as the 3 questions didn't take up much survey real-estate. When we observed the differences between 'Leavers' and 'Remainers', I began looking for research which challenged our biases (to @Niv's point). Dan's papers on the topic suggested that there was something interesting going on and we wanted to take a look.

Our intent is to write up a formal paper(s) and make data available so that others can openly challenge it. It would certainly seem that there's something here worth following up on.


Hope this helps.

June 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Chris,

Thanks for your openness. It's refreshing and admirable!

You may be interested in the scale the people linked below people use. I gather they've got standard questionaires and a body of previous results for placing international political leaders and parties in their framework. I expect there are more such surveys/methods elsewhere - it's a fairly commonly used categorisation in debate nowadays.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_compass
https://www.politicalcompass.org/faq

June 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Thanks Chris! I look forward to reading your formal paper.

I'm also intrigued by NiV's link, https://www.politicalcompass.org/, and in particular this quote:

"Our essential point is that Left and Right, although far from obsolete, are essentially a measure of economics. As political establishments adopt either enthusiastically or reluctantly the prevailing economic orthodoxy — the neo-liberal strain of capitalism — the Left-Right division between mainstream parties becomes increasingly blurred. Instead, party differences tend to be more about identity issues. In the narrowing debate, our social scale is more crucial than ever. "

In the US, the two political parties have often been, in my opinion, Wall Street version A, with a veiner of Fundamentalist Christianity including anti-abortion to attract one "base" of voters, and Wall Street version B, with a coating of women's rights and racial civil rights to attract another.

Whether it is a vote for Brexit or Trump, I believe that it has quite a bit to do with unease at a society in transition, economic and technological changes, along with climate change, that do threaten employment and lifestyle. And what is seen in voting demographics is a divide between those who feel they can cope in the new competitive environment and those who fear falling behind.

When it comes to polling, Chris notes the need for short easy to answer questions to get a response. With regards to pollution of that communication environment, do the British employ political "push polls" the way we do here?

For example I just received a "survey" in the mail from the Democratic National Committee full of questions such as:

Which elements of the radical Republican agenda are most dangerous to America's future? (chose up to 3)
and
Which of the below Democratic actions to level the playing field for middle-class families do you support?

At some point it ruins the whole idea of actual surveys.

June 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

I'm curious about the possible effects of using fake numerical evidence on immigration and crime as your experimental condition. Do you have any way of controlling for or excluding people who already have some sense of the real numbers, who might be thrown off by made-up numbers if they were wildly discordant with what they remember? Because I would (perhaps naively) be inclined to expect that some proportion of people have reviewed the real evidence, and it seems like the result might be for them to discount the credibility of your experimentally-supplied data and thus seem more "numerically illiterate" with respect to the fake numbers you gave them. That is: "these people are lying to me" -> "screw them, I know the real answer and I'll give them that instead". At least, I think that'd be my response, were I one of your subjects, and were I in a position to vote on Brexit or anything related!

(note, this is not dypoon but dypoon's spouse; any errors of comprehension or language herein are mine)

June 24, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

"Whether it is a vote for Brexit or Trump, I believe that it has quite a bit to do with unease at a society in transition, economic and technological changes, ..."

I agree, to some extent.

The median voter theorem says that if people vote for whichever party is closest to their views, then the optimum is two virtually identical parties, just on either side of the median, each getting half the vote. If either moves from there, it loses some middle-ground voters to the other side.


I've long thought that mainstream politics chases the median vote too closely, and this has resulted in an alienation of the people on both ends of the political spectrum, especially in the face of adversity. People want politicians to represent their own views, and want to move things in a certain direction, but find no viable choices on offer to do that. Their 'own' party epouses policies too similar to the 'opposition', chasing those middle-ground voters, and neglects their own 'base' supporters. There's also a professional political class that's arisen, who pursue their own career interests over those of the electorate.

It is said that a bureaucracy eventually comes to operate purely to promote the interests and maintain the existence of the bureaucracy itself, and those who have prospered under a particular political system do the same.

So they've taken to voting for populist demagogues and causes, not because they think they're particularly competent or well thought out policies, but because they smash the system. They say the things you're not allowed to say - that professional politicians have been trained to avoid because of the controversy aroused when they do. Demagogues thrive on controversy. And it means they start talking about all those difficult subjects that those on the outer edges of the spectrum care about, but that are excluded from the mainstream discourse.

People are disenchanted with the mainstream, and increasingly apathetic about voting for them. This means the conditions of the median voter theorem no longer apply, and other parties can form appealing to narrower groups at the ends of the spectrum, and succeed by raising more enthusiasm instead.

The Americans have the Tea Party and Donald Trump. The British have Nigel Farage (leader of UKIP), Boris Johnson (the conservative who officially led the 'Brexit' campaign), and Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the labour party, an old-style socialist who appeals to the labour party base but horrifies the parliamentary labour party establishment). Marine Le Pen in France, and I think various other European parties, show similar tendencies. Brexit, I think, is another example from this same phenomenon.

The politicians will eventually adapt. They'll have to polarise their positions more, and start to address the concerns of their respective bases, even at the cost of the middle ground, purely to hold the ground they formerly believed was naturally theirs. They're still struggling to believe it's really happening, and that the populations they 'lead' are really serious, but I think Brexit has delivered a bigger shock to the system than any of the previous ones. If Trump gets voted in as US President, there would be a similar shock applied on the other side of the Atlantic.

Interesting times.

"With regards to pollution of that communication environment, do the British employ political "push polls" the way we do here?"

The professional polling organisations don't - or at least not consciously. I'm sure it happens, but I think the British would respond more cynically to such transparent attempts to manipulate them. That's not to say the political establishment here aren't expert practitioners of more subtle methods of manipulation. The so-called 'spin doctors' have long been an issue in British politics.

"Do you have any way of controlling for or excluding people who already have some sense of the real numbers, who might be thrown off by made-up numbers if they were wildly discordant with what they remember?"

Even if they don't know the actual numbers, they might 'know' what sort of numbers to expect.

It's long been a hypothesis of mine that many of Dan's results can be explained by people choosing whether to expend mental effort figuring out a question properly, or accepting the easy, 'obvious' answer, depending on whether the easy answer agrees with what they already 'know'.

People will do the detailed calculation if they don't know the answer - if there's no prior reason to expect one alternative to be true. The skin cream experiment is like that. They'll also do the calculation if the quick method turns up answers that 'look wrong'. If you triangulate the distance to the moon and come up with the answer '65 miles', you'll go back and check your working to find out what you did wrong. But they'll be lazy if you ask them to expend a lot of mental effort proving that grass is green and the sky is blue, even if they're perfectly capable of doing the mathematics.

People also sometimes don't trust even their own ability to do the sums, or reason their way through the logic, when it gets complicated. It's like watching a stage magician. The reasoned interpretation of what you saw is that he sawed the lady in half, and then stuck her back together again. But you know stage magicians are experts at fooling people, and you know from your prior understanding of the world that it ought ot be impossible, so you'll reject the evidence of your own eyes, and of the magician's step-by-step logical 'proof' (see, nothing up my sleeves, the blade is solid,...) that that's what he did, in favour of your prior knowledge that it must have been a trick, even if you can't see how it was done.

The hypothesis could be tested by checking whether the effect still works on conclusions that are *not* politically controversial and that the subjects are not emotionally invested in, but that people already know the answer to, or at least what it is supposed to be.

June 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

I don't think that "the spectrum" is what it was thought to be anymore. Because the two parties are so embedded, their platforms don't change fast enough. Nor do their internal alignments of party bases match the current and future conditions. The big example here was how long it took white southern Democrats to wake up and become Republicans, which they had avoided since the days Abraham Lincoln was President, and he was Republican.

There is history here that can be learned from. In times of great income disparities, when there are "populist" uprisings, that can take several forms. Frequently, abetted by the desires of the establishment to stay in power, the various factions find, or are directed towards a scapegoat, or attack or are led to attack one another. Only in rare instances to these groups manage to unite and attack those at the top.

Meanwhile, I don't think we can look at the science of communication, and entirely blame a low information populace. (Like those in England who Google "What is the EU?" AFTER the vote).

Here in the US, the media is making it clear that Trump is good for business: http://fortune.com/2016/03/01/les-moonves-cbs-trump/. And CNN is hiring ex-Trump campaign chief Corey Lewandowski, despite his reputation for attacking the press, women and minorities, his continued loyalty to Trump, and the non disclosure agreement he signed with Trump that might make it difficult to criticize him.

It is an environment in which the power structure apparently prefers a circus to solutions.

NiV, what's with the "here"? I'm shocked to wonder if perhaps you are British.

June 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

"NiV, what's with the "here"? I'm shocked to wonder if perhaps you are British."

You mean you couldn't tell from the spelling?! :-)

Yes, I'm British.

June 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV, no I never picked up on it.

On Brixit, and related items, and who is being ignorant, I think Glen Greenwald does an excellent analysis here:

https://theintercept.com/2016/06/25/brexit-is-only-the-latest-proof-of-the-insularity-and-failure-of-western-establishment-institutions/

I don't think that Science and democratic ideals need go down in this revolt, but they certainly could.

"Obviously, those who are the target of this anti-establishment rage – political, economic and media elites – are desperate to exonerate themselves, to demonstrate that they bear no responsibility for the suffering masses that are now refusing to be compliant and silent. The easiest course to achieve that goal is simply to demonize those with little power, wealth or possibility as stupid and racist: this is only happening because they are primitive and ignorant and hateful, not because they have any legitimate grievances or because I or my friends or my elite institutions have done anything wrong. "

"sustained economic misery makes people more receptive to tribalistic scapegoating. That’s precisely why plutocratic policies that deprive huge portions of the population of basic opportunity and hope are so dangerous. "

And so, in the process of trying to address the pollution of the science communication environment, it is important not to fall into this trap:

"But, as usual, that’s exactly what they most refuse to do. Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, they are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to de-legitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures that there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future."

The problem for Science, scientists, and science communicators is that it's ways of thinking and collective knowledge do inform a way forward. But the manner in which science informed technologies are applied can often be quite harmful. And those harms can be obscured by powerful forces, corporations for example, by exploiting the comforting blanket of "its science" and "you are ignorant" and done so in manners that don't represent the best available science at all.

June 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

Gaythia -

I'm not buying this at all...

==>“both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for thirty years” ==>

I can't really say about Brexit, but as for Trumpism, I'm not buying this whole notion of Trump as some sort of populist anti-elitist. More accurately, he is a fear monger, who is capitalizing on a variety of sentiments (such as nativism) for self-interest. The notion of rallying behind a silver-spoon born elitist as a reaction against elitism is hilarious, IMO. Trump supporters, for the most part, aren't reacting against elitism...they just want their own elitists to have greater power.

==> "sustained economic misery makes people more receptive to tribalistic scapegoating. That’s precisely why plutocratic policies that deprive huge portions of the population of basic opportunity and hope are so dangerous. "

Trump supporters, for the most part, don't overlap with the segment of American society that have felt "sustained economic misery," relative to other segments. Instead, to a large degree, they represent a segment that has lost some measure of economic superiority relative to others, but in an absolute sense are still significantly lower on the "misery" scale than much of the public that in contrast, is opposed to Trump.

As for Brexit, I suspect that the following is close to the mark:

http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/in-the-wake-of-brexit-will-the-eu-finally-turn-away-from-austerity

June 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Chris--

thanks for giving us such great insights into the study!

@others-- sorry to be MIA; that will continue for better part of a week I'm afraid, if not longer (upper bound 70 yrs)

June 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Gaythia,

"On Brixit, and related items, and who is being ignorant, I think Glen Greenwald does an excellent analysis here:"

It's interesting to see a lot of the same thinking coming from the left. There's a lot in there I wouldn't agree with, obviously, but the sentiments are similar.

Joshua,

"The notion of rallying behind a silver-spoon born elitist as a reaction against elitism is hilarious, IMO."

It's a reaction to the socialist and vote-chasing middle-ground political elitists - not elitists in general.

The belief is (to grossly simply) based on the idea that a wealthy socialist elite gains political power by taking from the productive middle classes and giving to the unproductive poor, in exchange for those poor people's votes, and a slice off the top for themselves. The elites do what they can to increase the numbers of the poor, reduce the power of the productive businessmen to resist, pander to big businesses and the ultra-wealthy, continue pouring money into buying more votes, leaving the smaller producers on the hook for the debt, and ignoring their complaints and objections with contempt and accusations of racism.

Trump is seen as a businessman, and hence one of the producers of wealth, rather than purely a consumer. He's not a member of the particular "urban elite" that's seen as the problem.

I've seen a lot of scepticism among the American right on how genuine he is - there is a perception that he'll say whatever he thinks will get him more votes, and he's a bit too much of a narcissist - but at least by saying the things he does, it starts a conversation.

i>"As for Brexit, I suspect that the following is close to the mark:"

No, definitely not.

"The push for Brexit was driven by nationalistic, xenophobic and racist sentiments."

That was how the elite tried to paint it, but it tended to damage their own credibility with a public who were well aware that their own reasons were neither xenophobic nor racist - nor any more nationalistic than many of the opposing arguments. That's just a particularly shallow political attack - along the lines of saying Republicans opposed Obamacare because Obama was black.

The biggest reason given was sovereignty. They didn't want an unaccountable foreign power being able to dictate their laws - especially one they had no democratic power to elect or dismiss. I think the American colonies once had a similar attitude to being run by Britain, yes? Was that racist, or xenophobic?

"The EU leadership apparently likes balanced budgets. It may be something their parents told them."

I expect their parents would have. Anyone who has ever had to manage a household budget knows that, in the long run, you can't spend more than you earn. Funding an expensive lifestyle on ever-rising credit as a permanent state of affairs is a disaster waiting to happen.

We have a variety of daytime 'Jerry Springer'-type TV over here where they find people massively in debt, having multiple credit-card bills that are equivalent to four or five years salary, and who are still spending more than they earn. They then get financial advisers to help them get themselves out of the mess they're in. There's a sort of incredulous fascination in watching these people explain how they simply can't survive without some of the stuff they spend money on, like foreign holidays and big TVs and food shopping at the most expensive supermarkets. They simply cannot seem to understand that simple principle - you cannot spend more than you earn. You can get away with it for a short time, but only at the cost of making the crash even worse when it inevitably happens. The viewer is invited to marvel at it - how could anyone possibly be that stupid?

Doing something about it - paying off the debts - hurts. You have to spend a long time spending *less* than you earn, which after the prior lifestyle when you was spending more is a sharp contrast. Nobody likes it. But everyone understands it. The only people who object are those who were basically planning for someone else to pay the bill, and the political elites who make their living from their cut of the spending.

But austerity - for all it is a passionate cause of the left-wing elite - simply wasn't an issue for the working class Brexit voters. Their big issues were competition for minimum-wage jobs from poorer Eastern Europeans, drastically changing local cultures when thousands of (generally poor) immigrants were dumped into their communities, rising crime, concern about the violence, intolerance, and sex crimes of particularly Muslim immigrants, and that British taxpayers were on the hook to pay their benefits and pay in to the EU, leaving less for them. They were also annoyed that whenever they expressed their concerns about this they got told by the political elites they were being 'racist', which was not calculated to endear those elites to them.

It's not an argument I agree with, but it's clearly motivated by basic economic and cultural self-interest, not racism. And the only way European economic austerity gets involved is in the way the British were partly on the hook to bail out Southern Europe, measures designed to reduce the austerity they had to face.

June 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

People also sometimes don't trust even their own ability to do the sums, or reason their way through the logic, when it gets complicated. It's like watching a stage magician. [...]

The hypothesis could be tested by checking whether the effect still works on conclusions that are *not* politically controversial and that the subjects are not emotionally invested in, but that people already know the answer to, or at least what it is supposed to be.

Yes, this is good.

But austerity - for all it is a passionate cause of the left-wing elite - simply wasn't an issue for the working class Brexit voters. Their big issues were competition for minimum-wage jobs from poorer Eastern Europeans, drastically changing local cultures when thousands of (generally poor) immigrants were dumped into their communities, rising crime, concern about the violence, intolerance, and sex crimes of particularly Muslim immigrants, and that British taxpayers were on the hook to pay their benefits and pay in to the EU, leaving less for them. They were also annoyed that whenever they expressed their concerns about this they got told by the political elites they were being 'racist', which was not calculated to endear those elites to them.

A question from a clueless American: Scotland clearly didn't feel the same way in aggregate, even its more peripheral places. Did immigration and labor competition affect Scotland differently than it did England & Wales?

June 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

==> It's a reaction to the socialist and vote-chasing middle-ground political elitists - not elitists in general.

No. It's an ideological reaction against the left, including against leftist working class, minorities, etc - the antithesis of an "elite"

The whole Trump as anti-elitist thing is just a con job. Just like the notion that he is "anti-establishment." It's a joke. Sure, many traditional Republicans abhor Trump, but that's largely because he's a huckster, who is fear-mongering for personal gain.

==> The belief is (to grossly simply) based on the idea that a wealthy socialist elite gains political power by taking from the productive middle classes and giving to the unproductive poor, in exchange for those poor people's votes, and a slice off the top for themselves. "

That's the rhetoric that the con is based on, which is based on age old demagoguery. Nothing new there.

==> Trump is seen as a businessman, ...

Trump is seen as someone who voices their class- and rac-e and other forms of resentment. There's nothing new there either. It's not that different than the support from Romney. Trump now has the support of most Republicans. He may or may not reach the same level of support among Republicans as Romney did, but the differences are marginal, at least at this point. While they may be marginal, in an electorate so closely divided, marginal differences can be very important.


==> He's not a member of the particular "urban elite" that's seen as the problem.

That's the kind of hilarity I was talking about. I have to admit, though, that it's a good con. A lot of people are going along with it. Of course, they are "motivated"' by their ideology to do so, and that they would look the other way and ignore contrary evidence isn't the least bit surprising.

==> t starts a conversation.

Another funny notion, that his xenophobia, race-baiting, sexism, etc. represent at "start" to a convo. The convo is as old as the hills.

i>"As for Brexit, I suspect that the following is close to the mark:"


==> That was how the elite tried to paint it, ...

Right. And the associations with La Pen, Geert Wilders, the EDL etc., are just coincidence.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/far-right-demonstrators-take-streets-8281867


==> along the lines of saying Republicans opposed Obamacare because Obama was black.

No, it's along the lines of saying that Republicans opposed Obamacare, and rally behind Trump's "wall" rhetoric, and Trump's "no Muslim immigrants" rhetoric, because tribal affinities that are leveraged by fear-mongering, which includes among other things, dog-whistling racist and xenophobic and nationalistic sentiments.

==> The biggest reason given was sovereignty.

There are multiple reasons. People reverse engineer to justify their tribalism. It's like when Republicans in the states say that they oppose the Obamacare mandate because it's tantamount to tyranny, when just a few years ago the personal mandate was seen by Republicans as an important part of "personal responsibility." The notion of "sovereignty" has been leveraged in a tribal battlefield. It's no different than when Republicans who supported Bush's executive orders see Obama's executive orders as being "anti-democratic."

==> They didn't want an unaccountable foreign power being able to dictate their laws

NiV. - I know the shallow rhetoric. I love how you always think you have to mansplain shallow rightwing rhetoric to me. It isn't that I don't know what the shallow rhetoric is - whether your mansplaining Trump's support of Brexit's support. I'm just not impressed.
.
==> But austerity - for all it is a passionate cause of the left-wing elite - simply wasn't an issue for the working class Brexit voters.

No doubt. In fact, they largely coincide with an ideological grouping that largely supported the imposition of austerity measures on other countries, before they decided that the EU mandating policies was undemocratic elitism.

==> Their big issues were competition for minimum-wage jobs from poorer Eastern Europeans, drastically changing local cultures ...

Right. Nothing xenophobic about that, eh? How could anyone think so?

==> , but it's clearly motivated by basic economic and cultural self-interest, ...

It's largely about scapegoating minorities as being responsible for economic problems and leveraging xenophobia and race-baiting. Using economic and cultural concerns in such a fashion is hardly new.

The economic and cultural issuers ae complex in origin, and will not be solved with simplistic answers, such as those provided by Trump. I am not as familiar with the rhetoric with Brexit, but from what I've read it is similarly simplistic demagoguery.

June 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

BTW -

I notice that the Scottish don't seem to care that much, relatively, about socialist elistes impoverishing them by giving handouts to Muslims and other immigrants, who are threatening their culture.

Funny how that works. I guess that the Scots don't mind being ruled without representation by unelected bureaucratic foreign powers Funny, that. I guess they're just mindless robots, eh?

June 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

NiV -

Next time, save yourself the trouble of writing a comment and just give me a link to this bloke.

https://youtu.be/5XKJ2mcdVmQ

June 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dypoon:

Fwiw, just from Googling (that maybe you've what done), but some interesting ideas...

http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/the-celtic-question-why-did-northern-ireland-and-scotland-vote-remain-1.2698630

And

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/eight-reasons-scotland-is-more-remain-and-what-will-happen-if-its-dragged-out

June 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

You're just demonstrating the same point about not listening. These are the same "legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for thirty years", and you're continuing to refuse to answer them - insultingly dismissing it as "dog-whistling racist and xenophobic and nationalistic sentiments", much as I said.

Since you refused to listen, or answer the questions, the result is people like Trump and Farage winning, because they *did* listen, and *did* offer the people answers. That's democracy, I'm afraid.


"I notice that the Scottish don't seem to care that much, relatively, about socialist elistes impoverishing them by giving handouts to Muslims and other immigrants, who are threatening their culture."

That's because the Scots are some of the main beneficiaries of those elite hand-outs.

June 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

==> You're just demonstrating the same point about not listening.

I'm listening, NiV- I just disagree. I don't assume that all leavers are racist, or doubt that there are real issues in play that can't be boiled down to racism. But I see a lot of demagoguery and fear-mongering and race-baiting taking place. I don't expect you to see the same, and I can't do anything about it if people feel resentful that other people observe demagoguery and fear-mongering.

You assume that because I'm not persuaded by your arguments that I'm not listening, but that's not the case. That is why you think that you're explaining something to me when you elaborate on the same tired rhetoric I've read hundreds of times elsewhere, for years on end. You keep thinking that you're telling me something new. But you aren't.

My favorite example with Trump is his demagoguery about Ebola. It has nothing directly to do with race-baiting, but it was straight out fear-mongering. He doesn't particularly care what type of fear-mongering achieves the desired results. If race-baiting works, so be it.

So although it doesn't all boil down to racism per se, that doesn't mean that race-baiting or xenophobia isn't in play. I see La Pen, Wildters, and the EDL, and I see cheap exploitation of racism and xenophobia. I see Trump retweeting white supremacists, or calling for bans on Muslims, or talking of building a wall, and I see cheap exploitation of racism and xenopbobia. I don't expect you to see the same.

==> "These are the same "legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for thirty years",

It's just absurd that you think that I would be supporting elites that "refuse to listen" to the problems articulated by non-elites. To reach that conclusion, you have to be making incorrect assumptions about my activities throughout my entire life, and reaching conclusions about me in ignorance of the legacy of my cultural and familial heritage.

If I were so inclined, I might consider that "insultingly dismissive," but I don't because I know that your misimpressions about what I do and don't listen to are only a product of your own ideological biases - and so I don't take it personally because your reasoning is biased.

I don't dismiss the questions, NiV, I dismiss the weak answers that you condescendingly provide.

==> the result is people like Trump and Farage winning,

Blaming Trump's success on "urban elites" just shows that you've fallen for the con. Trump's success is directly attributable to race-and class-based resentments in a fashion that reflect age-old tactics of demagoguery. Trump offers simplistic answers to incredibly complex problems by fomenting hatred and scapegoating. What takes it over the top is that none of his "answers" will solve any problems.

June 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"Blaming Trump's success on "urban elites" just shows that you've fallen for the con. Trump's success is directly attributable to race-and class-based resentments in a fashion that reflect age-old tactics of demagoguery."

Resentments, yes, but based on economics, not on race or class. The latter often make for convenient labels, but they're not the reasons.

One of the more popular arguments against immigration is competition for low-paid jobs. The unskilled find themselves unable to find work because of an endless stream of cheaper labour from abroad. That's a genuine cause for resentment, and it matters not a jot that the competing group is of a different race or class. If the newcomers were of the same race and class, they would have to find a different label for them, but the resentment would be exactly the same.

I see the same resentment from country people when city people move out of the city and buy up all the houses. Local people can't get on the housing ladder, because of all the rich yuppies moving out of London and bidding up house prices. Same race, same nationality, in many cases the same class - but the same resentments. In history, the Luddites objected to the influx of machinery, taking away their jobs. The target of their resentment wasn't even human! It's not race or class at work there. People simply don't like it when their economic prospects are wrecked by a sudden and massive influx of more competitive competition.

The basic problem is that the immigration was poorly managed, allowing the immigrants to cluster into isolated ghettos, allowed not to integrate into society, concentrating the economic problems on particular vulnerable local communities (where housing was cheap), and whenever any of them complained about the very real economic consequences they were facing, they got dismissed as 'racist' and told to shut up. You're not allowed to complain if the people you're complaining about happen to be foreign, (which is itself of course a genuinely racist policy).

And because nobody could allow themselves to be seen paying any attention to such 'racist' complaints, nothing was done about it. Hence the eventually get fed up with the mainstream Establishment and turn instead to people who are willing to say the unsayable and offer them simplistic solutions. Yes, the demagogues are selling snake oil, but the blame for their current success lies squarely with mainstream politicians who refused to listen - quite frequently on the grounds of the race (white) and class (middle) of the complainers.

June 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

==> Resentments, yes, but based on economics, not on race or class.

First, it isn't an either/or. It's both. Some of the resentments are absolutely race- and class-based. Second, what Trump does is offer simplistic race- and class- based scapegoats as being responsible for the economic resentments. Mexicans are responsible. Chinese are responsible. Muslims are responsible. Or even liberals are responsible. It's never that the issue are complex, that the world has evolved since working class whites had a relatively easier path, and were easily able to sustain economic superiority over minorities.

The actual level of degradation of their economic status is relatively small. The general arc is slightly positive or more or less neutral. But their status relative to other groups has declined. It has declined relative to the the elites, such as Trump - but obviously Trump can't channel resentment towards the relative gains of the elites - so he foments hatred against those who were once further below the working class whites, and he leverages race- and class-based resentments in doing so.

Once again, history is replete with many examples of the exact same pattern.

==>. The latter often make for convenient labels, but they're not the reasons.

Not the reason for what? Not the reason for resentments? Well, as; I said, I think that your absolutist statements about that are completely off base. Certainly, they are not the only reason for resentments, but for many they are primary reasons, and for others, it is easy to find simplistic answers for very complicated problems. They don't have to face the reality that the same economic developments that have decreased world poverty and hunger, that have raised the standards of living world wide (for example, the decline of the manufacturing sector in the U.S. as the very nature of manufacturing has changed, and as other countries have developed their manufacturing capacity) are inextricably tied to their own, relative, decline (if not absolute decline)...and so they are very much inclined to respond to Trump's dog whistles about how their self-victimization has come at the expense of Mexicans or Chinese or "urban elites."

==> One of the more popular arguments against immigration is competition for low-paid jobs."

Again, with stating the obvious as if I don't know what the "popular arguments." It's very difficult to engage in these discussions when you think that you need to explain what the "popular arguments" are as if I don't know that they are. "The immigrants are degrading our standard of living" is ubiquitous. What is not so easy to find, however, are evidence-based analyses that support such conclusions. In fact, the economic impact of immigrants (even illegal) is quite mixed, and quite likely positive in balance. Of course, along with that mixture, there are disparate levels and signs of impact for different sectors, and of course, lower working class whites are likely to feel a more heavily negative degree of impact.,relatively...but even there the reality is complicated.

But Trump can leverage race- and class-based resentments to eliminate the complexities and present simplistic solutions.

==> The unskilled find themselves unable to find work because of an endless stream of cheaper labour from abroad.

Sorry, NiV, but IMO that is such an simplistic and unsophisticated argument that there's little point in my responding any further. Of course, I know that is the simplistic argument that Trump presents, along with race-and class-based dog whistles to undergird and leverage that simplistic analysis.

==> That's a genuine cause for resentment,

To the extent that it's true, as proven by sophisticated analysis, sure it's a genuine cause for resentment. But the extent to which it's true his highly debatable, and even to the extent that it is true, obviously, the causality behind the economic status of the groups where discussing is highly multifactorial. But that the other factors, some of which are likely more explanatory, are ignored, is evidence of the race- and class-based resentments. Blaming immigrants is easy, and it also satisfies the inherent nature of tribalism, group identification, blaming "others," etc.

June 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

The graph below, restricted to White British respondents, shows almost no statistically significant difference in EU vote intention between rich and poor.

https://flipchartfairytales.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/chart1v2.jpg

June 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

More interesting information that undermines simplistic rhetoric:


https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/looking-behind-the-brexit-anger/

specifically:

https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/looking-behind-the-brexit-anger/brexit2-1/

June 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Follow-on links (there are more):

http://www.perc.org.uk/project_posts/thoughts-on-the-sociology-of-brexit/

http://www.fabians.org.uk/brexit-voters-not-the-left-behind/

June 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

As you can see there is no relationship between how an area’s prosperity changed in recent years and how they voted. That is to say some areas with big pay boosts voted to leave (such as Christchurch in Dorset) and some that have done very badly out of the last decade and a half still voted to stay in the EU (such as Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire).

ow what is true is that the relative levels of pay in an area do matter for how people voted. Areas that voted to leave the EU weren’t those that did badly in recent years, but areas in which people simply earn less. Contrast, for example, a leave vote of 76 per cent in Boston (the local authority with the lowest pay of all last year), to a leave vote of 31 per cent in Richmond-upon-Thames (the highest paid area).

http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/brexit1-1.png


http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/media/blog/the-referendum-living-standards-and-inequality/

June 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

If the newcomers were of the same race and class, they would have to find a different label for them, but the resentment would be exactly the same.

NiV, I don't think the resentment would be the same. I think people find it much easier to hate on and disparage people who are less like them. (Isn't that the whole point of this blog?!) The resentment may be as justified, but the way it politically expresses itself when it's the own-class that's being resented vs. an other-class that's being resented is completely different.

I'd even argue that immigration is politically advantageous for the capitalist class because it keeps discontented native workers focused on competing with the people who don't belong here instead of asking for raises.

The unskilled find themselves unable to find work because of an endless stream of cheaper labour from abroad.

Sorry, NiV, but IMO that is such an simplistic and unsophisticated argument that there's little point in my responding any further. Of course, I know that is the simplistic argument that Trump presents, along with race-and class-based dog whistles to undergird and leverage that simplistic analysis.

...You're not listening, are you, Joshua? There's nothing inherently wrong with simple analyses. I think you really ought to have responded.

This article finds that immigrants are good, though not perfect, substitutes for natives in Britain. Given that immigration increases the labor supply, I would expect to see a decrease in wages, wage growth, or employment.

Since that article also does not find any effect on wages, I'm looking at wage growth or employment. Wages overall in Britain have barely been keeping pace with core inflation since the early 2000s; and while employment among the more educationally qualified is positively affected by immigration, employment among the intermediately educated (O-level but no higher, basically equivalent to a high school diploma with no APs in the US) is depressed by immigration; they have lower probability of working and lower participation in the labor market (pp. 23-24).

So it appears that the academic literature basically agrees with NiV's assertion here. Not only did you not listen, Joshua, but you should have.

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

"Again, with stating the obvious as if I don't know what the "popular arguments." It's very difficult to engage in these discussions when you think that you need to explain what the "popular arguments" are as if I don't know that they are."

It's very difficult to argue when the conversation goes: "The arguments are all racism" / "No, they're about the economics" / "Yes, I know they're about the economics - why are you even telling me this?"

" "The immigrants are degrading our standard of living" is ubiquitous. What is not so easy to find, however, are evidence-based analyses that support such conclusions."

By who? Who's going to fund research, unless its aim is to discredit the notion?

It's like asking for the evidence from the predominantly-liberal mainstream of sociology academics that Republicans are not mentally defective, or for the official IPCC-endorsed evidence for climate change scepticism!

"Contrast, for example, a leave vote of 76 per cent in Boston (the local authority with the lowest pay of all last year), to a leave vote of 31 per cent in Richmond-upon-Thames (the highest paid area)."

Good example! I happen to have relative living in Boston! It's main local industry is agriculture. And the town is jam packed with immigrant workers who work in the fields picking crops. They're run by the gangmasters - local organised crime families (British, and well-known to locals) who sell them as cheap labour and keep out the competition by whatever means they feel necessary. Locals can't compete on price, unless they're willing to live ten-to-a-room too. Crime has gone up - one of my family members got burgled three times in a year. And another lives in a street of about 30-40 houses, all but two of which now house East European immigrants.

So I find some difficulty believing that your difficulty finding evidence-based analyses constitutes evidence of absence. Everyone there knows *exactly* why Boston voted so overwhelmingly for Brexit. I find it hard to credit that anyone could actually go there to do their research and not be told.

All the experts in the world can tell us that 2+2=5, and that anyone who says otherwise is racist, but the people involved still don't believe it, because they can see that it is otherwise.

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

"NiV, I don't think the resentment would be the same. I think people find it much easier to hate on and disparage people who are less like them."

No doubt. But people can find many new and interesting ways in which other people are "not like us", if the old standards don't fit. It's like schoolyard cliques - the cool kids don't like you because you dress differently, like different music, support a different football team, come from a rival town, follow a different religion, talk with a different accent, have rich parents, have poor parents, have boring parents, anything. People are very good at identifying differences between groups.

That's what I meant by having to pick different labels. But my point was that the causality is the other way round. They don't like you, so they look for differences to pick on. It's not that the differences lead to the dislike.

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

But my point was that the causality is the other way round. They don't like you, so they look for differences to pick on. It's not that the differences lead to the dislike.

Really?! That's completely different from my own personal experience. Like or dislike has nothing to do with it. Rather, there will always be people who will mine away trust, dignity and respect to yield a little bit of social capital and status for themselves and their close friends; the question is only if you're a profitable target or not. It doesn't matter whether they like you or not; any pre-existing difference just makes you more profitable to ostracize. That's why you often see such bullies approaching the people they bully and say, "look, I don't dislike you - you're just a chump".

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

==> So it appears that the academic literature basically agrees with NiV's assertion here. Not only did you not listen, Joshua, but you should have.

dypoon -

While it's always useful to get 3rd party input, I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to use it in this particular case...

This, from your link:

Immigration to the UK, particularly among more educated workers, has risen appreciably over the past 30 years and as such has raised labor supply. However studies of the impact of immigration have failed to find any significant effect on the wages of native-born workers in the UK.

Is to a significant degree, the argument that I've been trying to make The notion that immigration is causal to the problem, particularly to the exclusion of others, is simplistic, and likely wrong.

That is why I posted that graph, and article, that shows that many of the regions that voted most heavily for Brexit, were not regions which have shown a trend of decline contemporaneous with the trends in migration that are being focused on as causal for the current economic conditions of those who voted for leaving.

This, from your comment:

I think people find it much easier to hate on and disparage people who are less like them. (Isn't that the whole point of this blog?!) The resentment may be as justified, but the way it politically expresses itself when it's the own-class that's being resented vs. an other-class that's being resented is completely different.

Is, in my interpretation, to a large degree the argument I've been trying to make.

I also don't see how the link that you provided is evidence in support of NiV's argument. No doubt, the perception that immigrants causing economic woes is one big part of the dynamic behind Trump's popularity and Brexit, but that doesn't mean that such perceptions are reality-based, or aren't materially a function of scapegoating of "others" and tribalism - of the sort that have seen exploited by demagogues throughout history.

Perhaps there is some mistake in my understanding of what you or NiV are arguing, or lack of clarity in my expression of my arguments...perhaps some events over the past few days for me (I sequentially fell and tore 3.9 of the 4 quadriceps tendons attaching my quads to my kneecaps, went to the ER to have it diagnosed, wrestled with any variety of obstacles presented by my health insurance, and had surgery to repair the damage. Now I have 1 month in a cast to look forward to, and months of rehab!)...have let to distraction and even more than normal muddled brain function due to a bit of pain medication I've taken....

Perhaps the problem lies in that you think that this characterization of what I've been saying:

"The arguments are all racism" / "No, they're about the economics" / "Yes, I know they're about the economics - why are you even telling me this?"

If so, then I'm not sure how to proceed. Not sure how I could be more clear that isn't my view, and I'm not sure how I could clarify my arguments so as to make that clearer.

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

BTW -

I think it also important to note in the other links I referenced, evidence is shown that it is regions where wages are the lowest that most strongly supported Brexit, and which showed the importance of controlling for race when conducting analysis of demographic signs in the data - and that those trends reflect long-term influences that were evident decades before the putative tyrannical of foreign EU powers empowering immigrants economically at the cost of the economic health of working class whites.

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Where's Dan? Presumably he's Brexited. But unless he embraced what I think one of you commenters above proposed as the "doingness" of climate change, and is traveling by sailing ship, shouldn't he be in San Francisco by now?

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

Dypoon -

With respect to employment, certainly this is interesting and worth considerion

If there is evidence of negative effects on employment in any group, then it is for those with intermediate education levels, but this is offset in the aggregate by positive effects on employment among the better qualified. Estimated wage effects, based on a shorter run of data, are if anything positive but statistically poorly determined.

But also worth consideration is the one study question...unless you have other studies with similar findings

But perhaps more importantly, I'm not able to evaluate how effectively they controlled for the influences of other factors so as to isolate the effects of immigration on employment. It would be interesting to read some analyses of that question.

Further, what would really be interesting is to read discussion of the magnitude of the effect they identified of immigration on employment as compare to the influence of other factors. What would be interesting to know is whether the potential negative effects of immigration on employment are disproportionately an element of the Brexit rhetoric in comparison to the relative impact of other factors.

Also interesting..

If there is evidence of negative effects on employment in any group, then it is for those with intermediate education levels,

It's interesting because the sector of people with intermediate education levels were more likely to vote to stay than those with lower education levels - who despite likely feeling a positive impact on employment from immigration (if you trust the findings of this study) target immigration as a primary factor in the degradation of their economic status.

Why would that be?

And of course while not directly related to your comment, there's also this:

The main result is that we find little evidence of overall adverse effects of immigration on native outcomes.

Now what's interesting to me is that the rhetoric around immigration and Brexit, coming from the leavers, seems to me to uniformly ignore that aspect of the issues at hand, and instead offer simplistic solutions that will not likely have much impact given the complicated causality.

June 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

If I understand NiV correctly, he was arguing that 1) immigration reduces the availability of work for some natives, regardless of what overall impact it has, and 2) that because of 1), there are a significant number of people who support Brexit because they blame immigrants for their woes and they think that Brexit is going to help solve their immigration problem. You disagreed with his premise 1), for no good reason at all as far as I can see it, so I did some quick research that ended up indicating that 1) is probably more justifiable than you seemed to be giving it credit for, and I posted that.

Subsequently, NiV offered much stronger anecdotal evidence for the proposition, showing that what you thought of as an "overly simplistic argument" was in fact their reality. (I actually ninja'ed him - if I'd started a few minutes later, he'd have posted first, and I would have seen it and not have bothered posting at all.) In that respect, NiV's point and mine both are that disparaging peoples' experiences, especially by prejudice, is never a productive mode of discourse. I am surprised that you still have not acknowledged his Boston account in some way.

I agree with you in that I don't think those people are being rational in their decision to support Brexit, for Brexit is not going to help solve whatever immigration problem they think they have; if it's not Eastern Europeans or whoever the latest scapegoat is, it's just going to be Indians, and India is a Commonwealth country. And that's even before getting into the logistics of patrolling Hadrian's Wall to stop both illegal and licit people-movement via Scotland, whose independence is imminent. All you need for immigration is a price index difference. Even if it might be good for other economic reasons, leaving the EU is not really going to help England control immigration.

I of course agree that politicians must be held accountable who inflame ethnic tensions to gain political capital. Democracy may make it legitimate for citizens to sell their political capital to anyone for any reason, (and we can argue about whether democracy in general does do this,) but politicians who buy that political capital need to be punished by the electorate and the media.

July 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

"No doubt, the perception that immigrants causing economic woes is one big part of the dynamic behind Trump's popularity and Brexit, but that doesn't mean that such perceptions are reality-based, or aren't materially a function of scapegoating of "others" and tribalism - of the sort that have seen exploited by demagogues throughout history."


Agreed. This is my point.

What I'm saying is that it is the perception of economic woes being caused by immigration that drives support. It's not simple racism/xenophobia, and most of the supporters are not racist. Whether they're *right* about the economic impact of immigration is a separate matter. It's a lot more complex - they're right in some regards, wrong in others, and simplistic metrics and indirect measures applied by the academics (and by the polemicists, too) are a crude tool for investigating it.

Ideologically, as a believer in free markets, I regard unconstrained immigration as good. The same arguments apply to the free movement of labour as to free movement of goods, services, and capital, and attempts to restrict immigration to raise local wages is a form of protectionism, that makes society poorer overall. I'm against that.

But I understand how the direct reported experience of some of my relatives leads to those views. Their experiences are real. The effects are real. I might argue that there are counterbalancing effects elsewhere that outweigh them, or compensate for them, but I can't argue that it isn't happening.

There are a lot of different theories about economics and the causes of poverty, and politics is all about the debate between them. This is one more hypothesis, as intellectually legitimate as socialism or communism or mercantilism. It might be wrong, and there might be academic evidence against it, but then the same might be said of socialism, and yet sincere socialists still exist. The problem is that nobody has addressed their issues and given them a convincing explanation of how and why their hypothesis is wrong. Instead, it gets dismissed as racism and a symptom of various cultural phobias, and any debate on the subject excluded from the mainstream. It gets incorporated into the cultural war between political positions, and used as a stick to beat the other tribe with. "They're all dirty racists!" Any hint of support becomes politically toxic. And when even the mainstream politicians that are nominally on the same side as them say so too, they turn instead to the fringes.

That dissatisfaction with the mainstream has reached this level, that it is starting to lead to the election of fringe politicians and positions, is something the mainstream are going to have to address and adapt to quickly.

July 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

==> What I'm saying is that it is the perception of economic woes being caused by immigration that drives support. It's not simple racism/xenophobia..

Well, again, I don't see an either/or. For some, there is probably not much of an element of racism. For others, there is probably a significant component of racism. And for yet others, the ease with which they find simplistic causal attribution for such a complicated and multifactorial dynamic, whereby an "other" is found to blame to the exclusion of other factors or in proportion to other factors in such a way that doesn't reflect reality, suggest an interplay with xenophobia/racism.

==> and most of the supporters are not racist.

I don't know how such a determination might be made. What I have little doubt of, is that just as the "immigrants are at fault' is simplistic and in a way suggests biased analysis and likely a good measure of racists/xeonophbic/anti-"other" tendencies, an overly simplistic attribution of racism as the only root factor in play is likewise not accurate and likewise reflective of biased (anti-"other") reasoning.

And no doubt, a hyperbolic, reflexive 100% attribution of all the hostility to racism/xenophobia will not be productive in anyway, although i doubt that it significantly increases the already existing level of antipathy

==> Their experiences are real. The effects are real....

Their feelings are real the veracity of their conclusions about the (cause and) effects might match reality to some extent but are likely substantively wrong or at least exaggerated in a manner exacerbated by xenophobia and anti-"other" sentiments. there is abundant historical precedent in fact, the dynamic i describing is an overwhelming pattern.

July 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Interesting article on Brexit and trust in academic expert communication on the 'soft' sciences:

Academics take stock after Brexiteer victory over ‘the experts'

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/academics-take-stock-after-brexiteer-victory-over-experts

July 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHermien Zaaiman

although i doubt that [a hyperbolic, reflexive 100% attribution of all the hostility to racism/xenophobia] significantly increases the already existing level of antipathy[...]

I find this comment your most indicative, Joshua. It's clear to me that you think that any ounce of racism in a person's thought process makes them capital-'W' Wrong, as in "in the Wrong", and that moral judgment of yours is escalating you already to the point that you can't see how your escalated reaction is shaping others like me, causing me to fault you for discourse breakdown. I think you're effectively saying, "well, if I'm feeling escalated because of something they said, then I'm right to escalate them too."

I disagree with that sentiment. You may feel the way you do for entirely laudable reasons, which I happen to agree with, but I disagree that their racist sentiments place you in the right to stop listening to what they feel. Do you see the symmetry I'm trying to show?

Their feelings are real the veracity of their conclusions about the (cause and) effects might match reality to some extent but are likely substantively wrong or at least exaggerated in a manner exacerbated by xenophobia and anti-"other" sentiments. there is abundant historical precedent in fact, the dynamic i describing is an overwhelming pattern.

Yes. I find their political reaction deplorable too. I doubt they're exaggerated, though. They're just taking the cheap shots against the targets they can, their immigrant competition, instead of the worthwhile ones they'd rather not take because they're trying to cozy up to their prospective employers. This lack of overall political awareness is still a huge problem, and is common to many people whose politics are driven by moral positions on single issues. We're definitely seeing that here in the US too...

July 2, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

Dypoon

==> I find this comment your most indicative, Joshua. It's clear to me that you think that any ounce of racism in a person's thought process makes them capital-'W' Wrong

Not at all. I think that virtually everyone has some measure of racist attitudes, certainly including me. I don't think we should play politically correct games to avoid that reality - because people take offense at being challenged on their biases. It doesn't make them bad people, just human and flawed.

July 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

==> I disagree that their racist sentiments place you in the right to stop listening to what they feel. Do you see the symmetry I'm trying to show?

I get the symmetry in what you're describing, but I haven't stopped listening, and so I don't think that the symmetry applies. It's difficult here because we're talking in such generalities, and no doubt there are many individual differences, but just because someone might take offense at the illustration of a general influence of racism or xenophobia isn't a reason to not point out those general patterns. As to have a positive influence on someone who takes such offense, well, that's another question

July 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Hermin -

Interesting article, thanks for the link.

July 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

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