Author Archive | Jim Lindgren

Happy 10th Anniversary to Althouse

Ann Althouse celebrates 10 years of blogging.

I remember the first time I met Ann. In the 1990s at the AALS annual meeting, Philip Hamburger and I put together a program on law review editing and the quality of writing in American law reviews. I invited Ann to be on the panel because of something interesting she had written on the topic.

The one thing I remember her saying then was that the genre of writing she wanted to do didn’t really exist — at least not yet. The reason that her comment stuck with me was that I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. I thought that columnists can do commentary and scholars can do scholarship and some lucky people can do both.

And then came blogs, and Ann found the genre of writing that she wanted to do.

I’ve always considered Ann a natural blogger. It’s intriguing to think about the dissimilarities among some of the natural bloggers in the law school world — Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh, and Ann Althouse — people who write quickly, naturally, and with very different styles. [...]

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Open Thread on Personal Experiences With the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Before posting about my experiences trying to get health insurance for a family member for whom I have a power of attorney, I want to ask VC readers about their personal experiences (and those of their family members). I want to hear both positive and negative experiences.

For example, who had no health insurance before but now has it? Who had insurance before but doesn’t have it now? Why?

Who had a big increase or decrease in coverage, deductibles, or premium cost? Are your existing doctors included in your insurance company’s new network?

What experiences have you had on or the state sites? Have you had trouble having your identity verified? Has the chat function worked for you? How payment worked for you? Have you gotten your insurance card?

Are any of you too rich for Medicaid but too poor for subsidies on the exchange? Has the site informed you that you are enrolled in Medicaid when you have never been in Medicaid and have never applied for it (this happened to someone writing online and to my family member)? Have you experienced the website saying that a state Medicaid official would call you, and if so, did a Medicaid official call you? Has anyone appealed a determination, and on what basis?

Please be as specific as possible in telling your personal stories. [...]

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Hoffer is Confused About the Implications of Falsifying Climate Models

At Watts Up With That, David M. Hoffer has an odd essay on peer review:

[I]s the notion of climate science today as easily falsified by simple observation? I submit that it is. We have the climate models themselves to upon which to rely.

For what are the climate models other than the embodiment of the peer reviewed science? Is there a single model cited by the IPCC that claims to not be based on peer reviewed science? Of course there isn’t. Yet simple observation shows that the models, and hence the peer reviewed literature upon which they are based, are wrong. We have none other than the IPCC themselves to thank for showing us that.
The leaked Second Order Draft of IPCC AR5 laid bare the failure of the models to predict the earth’s temperature going forward in time. In fact, if one threw out all but the best 5% of the model results…they would still be wrong, and obviously so. They all run hotter than reality. Exposed for the world to see that the models (and hence the science upon which they are based) had so utterly failed, the IPCC responded by including older models they had previously declared obsolete as now being part of the current literature.

. . .

No longer is the debate in regard to if the models are wrong. The debate is now about why the models are wrong. The models having fallen, the peer reviewed science they purport to represent falls with them.

While Hoffer is correct that we now have enough data to know that most prior climate models are wrong, his logic is faulty. His main argument is that if the models are wrong and if they are based on the peer-reviewed literature, then the peer-reviewed literature [...]

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The Oregon Medicaid Experiment and New Possibilities for Quasi-Experiments

Jonathan Adler has already noted the new article in Science using data from Oregon’s Medicaid experiment. It found that expanding Medicaid led to a 41% increase in visits to the emergency room, including increases in visits for conditions that would be better treated in a primary care setting. Here is the abstract:

In 2008, Oregon initiated a limited expansion of a Medicaid program for uninsured, low-income adults, drawing names from a waiting list by lottery. This lottery created a rare opportunity to study the effects of Medicaid coverage using a randomized controlled design. Using the randomization provided by the lottery and emergency-department records from Portland-area hospitals, we study the emergency-department use of about 25,000 lottery participants over approximately 18 months after the lottery. We find that Medicaid coverage significantly increases overall emergency use by 0.41 visits per person, or 40 percent relative to an average of 1.02 visits per person in the control group. We find increases in emergency-department visits across a broad range of types of visits, conditions, and subgroups, including increases in visits for conditions that may be most readily treatable in primary care settings.

Like Adler, Sabrina Tavernise at the New York Times explains one reason this study might be important:

Supporters of President Obama’s health care law had predicted that expanding insurance coverage for the poor would reduce costly emergency room visits as people sought care from primary care doctors. But a rigorous new study conducted in Oregon has flipped that assumption on its head, finding that the newly insured actually went to the emergency room more often.

As some have noted, greater use of the emergency room is not necessarily a bad thing; one would want to look at health outcomes, as well as the modest increase in costs.

I wanted here to [...]

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Brain dead is dead

The recent case of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old declared dead after a routine operation went wrong, raises the issue whether family members can mandate care when their relative is brain dead. The simple answer is No.

In the US, brain death is usually treated conclusively as death. Thus, a family member of a dead person has no right to insist on treatment or to reject the withdrawal of a ventilator keeping the heart and lungs working. Generally, if the evidence is clear, the family need not even be consulted.

While I think it reasonable in some cases for the family to insist on a second opinion on brain death (because doctors can make mistakes), if the facts are clearly established, then the family’s role should be limited to handling the disposition of the body. (I offer no opinion on the strength of the evidence of brain death in McMath, but, a priori, I think it far more likely that the doctors are right than the family.)

Further, comparing brain death in McMath to cases involving coma or a persistent vegetative state (PVS) is not appropriate. People in a PVS or in other forms of comas are alive, while people who are brain-dead are dead. [...]

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How typical is Phil Robertson’s view of gay sex?

One question that has come up in the Duck Dynasty dispute is how typical is Phil Roberston’s view that homosexual behavior is a sin.

In recent years, the public has been moving from a majority believing that sexual relations between people of the same gender is always wrong to roughly equal numbers believing that it’s always wrong and believing that it’s not wrong at all.

Indeed, less than two years ago, our President finally came around to embrace views on gay marriage that I expect a majority of us at the Volokh Conspiracy have long held.

In searching through polls archived at the Roper Center, I found these surveys showing the split over gay sex:

May 2013: Do you think it is a sin, or not, to engage in homosexual behavior?
(Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Political Survey)

    45% Is a sin
    45% Is not a sin
    10% Don’t know/Refused

March 2013: Do you personally believe that sex between two adults of the same gender is a sin, or not?
(Source: Public Religion Research Institute Religion & Politics Tracking Survey)

    44% Yes, is a sin
    46% No, is not a sin
    10% Don’t know/Refused

Mar-Aug, 2012: What about sexual relations between two adults of the same sex–do you think it is always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?
(Source: 2012 General Social Survey, % of those expressing an opinion, weighted responses)

    46% Always wrong
    3% Almost always wrong
    8% Wrong only sometimes
    44% Not wrong at all

July 2011: Do you personally believe that sex between two adults of the same gender is a sin, or not?
(Source: Public Religion Research Institute Millennials, Religion & Gay and Lesbian Issues Survey)

    50% Yes, is a sin
    46% No, is not
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Roger Ebert, Pornography, and the Art of Cinema

Roger Ebert died this past week. He was best known for his various reviewing gigs on TV, starting with his show teamed with Gene Siskel. Because Siskel was tall and Ebert was short, during the show Ebert sat on phone books to lessen the height difference. Another odd story about Ebert is that he once agreed to be hired as the primary Washington Post film reviewer, but the Post backed out when Ebert made it clear that he had no intention of moving to DC.

One thing I liked about Ebert is that he sometimes wrote very engagingly about bad films, a talent that led to my favorite line of his (as I remember it):

“This film is so much in favor of the human race that it almost makes you want to choose sides.”

I first met Roger Ebert in 1978 in the green room of a Public TV show when I was hosting Frank Capra for his multi-day visit to the University of Chicago’s Law School Films. Ebert was bright and charming, but I was struck by how little he knew about 1930s and 1940s films. I think that Capra (and Mickey Rooney) were just as surprised as I was.

The next time I saw Ebert was less than a year later. I picked him up at his apartment on the North Side and brought him down to Hyde Park for an evening at UC Law School Films. As I drove him home afterwards, I just handed him a wad of cash, our receipts for the night plus enough additional money to bring it up to $500 (somehow I’ll bet that bookkeeping would not be so casual these days, even for a student organization). I was able to talk with him enough that night to understand that his [...]

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MSNBC’s Harris-Perry on my gun research: “The minutia of . . . replicating data turned into a politically consequential battle that shifted the discourse on guns in America”

On MSNBC over the weekend, Melissa Harris-Perry had some very kind words to say about some of my research a decade ago on guns in early America and the errors of Michael Bellesiles’s Arming America:


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After a half-minute set-up, Harris-Perry discusses my work until about the 2:11 mark.

Here is the transcript of Harris-Perry’s comments:

[I]t`s not just sports where knowing the rules of the inside game can make all the difference. Let me take you to the original Nerdland, the academy, where inside fights rarely make the news, but sometimes the topics pack enough political heat to make professors into headliners. Take this scandal. In 2000, a remarkable piece of academic work was published by the then much respected Emory University historian, professor Michael Bellesiles. In his book, “Arming America,” he used hundreds of old documents to prove that gun ownership was uncommon in the 18th century. He went on to say that given the rarity of gun ownership, there is no way the Founding Fathers intended the Second Amendment to ensure individual gun ownership rights. It was a moment of triumph in the gun control debate, when data, not polemic, proved the point.

Except it was not true. In an epic academic takedown a year later, a law professor from Northwestern University, James Lindgren, went through hundreds of pages of Bellesiles`s footnotes and found that much of the data were falsified. In fact, there were far more guns in earlier America than Bellesiles claimed. And Professor Bellesiles resigned from his tenured job, and was stripped of his book awards.

But most damning of all, the research he`d hoped would make a case for gun control only served to bolster the

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Stock Market Has Worst Day This Year

The Dow Jones Industrials fell 313 points (2.36%), the worst day for the Dow this year. Also, the S&P 500 fell 2.37%, while the NASDAQ fell 2.48%.

UPDATE: CNBC reports:

Markets have performed unfavorably both days following Obama’s presidential victories. In fact, back on Nov. 5, 2008 — the day after Obama was first elected — the Dow closed down almost 500 points.

Excluding 2008, the only other time stocks have performed as poorly the day after a presidential election in the last 60 years was on Nov. 3, 1948, when the Dow dropped 3.85 percent as Harry Truman claimed victory over Thomas Dewey.

Thus, the three worst post-election days since World War II are 2008 (Obama), 1948 (Truman) and 2012 (Obama). [...]

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Overnight Stock Market Futures Down (Only) 1%

At 10:16pm ET on Tuesday night, the S&P 500 mini stock futures are down 13.75 points, or just under 1%. The Dow futures are similarly down 107 points. Roughly, a move of this size in the market tomorrow would just erase today’s gains.

Accordingly, those few investors who feared a big down day on Wednesday should take heart that so far the futures do not indicate such a large negative day.

I wouldn’t be surprised, however, to see a big move one way or the other later tonight or tomorrow.

UPDATE: At 11:15ET, the stock futures drop has been trimmed to only about 7.5 points on the S&P and 56 points on the Dow. [...]

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Exit Polls Hinting Positive Things for Romney; [Actual Voting Trending Toward an Obama Win]

As the first exit polls are discussed, only certain internal questions are reported. Among them is the percentage thinking that they are better off than four years ago. AP is reporting that only 25% of voters in exit polls report being better off. That contrasts with a Gallup Poll of two weeks ago showing 38% feeling better off than four years ago.

If a smaller percentage (a 13% drop) feeling better off means that the rest are more likely to vote for Romney, then this might indicate that Romney will perform better than expected. (Gallup didn’t report the results on its website in a way that would permit me to check this reasonable assumption.)

UPDATE (from EV): Jim asked me to post this:

While I was preparing analyses of other exit poll questions, most of which tend to be good news for Obama, my computer crashed. Until I return to Chicago in a few hours, I will not be able to provide the updated analyses I had hoped to add.

2D UPDATE (from JL): Among the analyses that I was working on before my computer crashed was one whether the country was on the Right Track or Wrong Track. The percentage on the right track was considerably higher than in pre-election polls, a very good sign for Obama.

The most interesting pro-Obama internal result of an exit poll that I heard in the last 90 minutes is that in New Hampshire, Obama was leading among independents by 8%. Even if these results were to be off by a few percent, if they are even close to accurate (and I assume they are), I don’t see how Romney could win New Hampshire. [...]

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When Angry, Redistributionists Tend to Plot Revenge. For Them, Voting Might Indeed Be the “Best Revenge.”

It is not surprising that President Obama, a strong proponent of doing more to equalize incomes, would speak about voting as the “best revenge.” After all, as I explored in “What Drives Views on Government Redistribution and Anti-capitalism: Envy or a Desire for Social Dominance?” (available at SSRN), strong proponents of income leveling are more likely than strong opponents to admit that when they are angry, they plot revenge. The data come from the 1996 General Social Survey, which asked about 900 respondents about their emotional and psychological makeup.

On revenge, the paper reports:

Not only do redistributionists report more anger, but they report that their anger lasts longer. Further, when asked about the last time they were angry, strong redistributionists were more than twice as likely as strong opponents of leveling to admit that they responded to their anger by plotting revenge. [p. 36]

This is part of a general pattern of greater anger and less happiness among redistributionists (pp. 32-26):

In terms of relative odds (Table 3-3), compared to strong anti-redistributionists (category 7), strong redistributionists (category 1) had about two to three times higher odds of reporting that in the prior seven days they were “angry” (2.0 times higher odds), “mad at something or someone” (1.9 times), [and] “outraged at something somebody had done” (1.9 times) . . . . Similarly, as Table 3-4 shows, anti-redistributionists had about 280% higher odds of reporting being happy (3.8 times) and about 110% higher odds of reporting that they were at ease (2.1 times). Overall, favoring income redistribution positively predicted 9 of 12 superficially negative emotions and negatively predicted 4 of 7 superficially positive emotions, which was a remarkably consistent pattern. The data are consistent with redistributionists in the general public being considerably more angry,

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Snap Polls After the 2d Debate Report that Obama Won

Nate Silver reviews the post debate polls, which show President Obama as the narrow winner, a result that more or less accords with my view:

Scientific polls conducted after Tuesday night’s presidential debate in New York give a modest edge to President Obama.

A CBS News/Knowledge networks poll of undecided voters who watched the debate found 37 percent giving an advantage to Mr. Obama, 30 percent favoring Mitt Romney and 33 percent calling the debate a tie. That represents a narrower lead for Mr. Obama than Mr. Romney had after the first debate in Denver, when a similar poll gave Mr. Romney a 46-22 edge.

A CNN poll of registered voters who watched the debate — not just undecided voters, as in the CBS News survey — also gave the debate to Mr. Obama by a seven-point margin, 46 percent to 39 percent. Mr. Romney had won by a much larger margin, 67 percent to 25 percent, in CNN’s poll after the first debate.

Mr. Obama may have benefited in the CNN poll from diminished expectations: 73 percent of voters in the poll said he performed better than they expected, against just 10 percent who said he did worse.

Two other polls gave Mr. Obama a somewhat clearer advantage. A Battleground poll of likely voters in swing states who watched the debate had him winning 53-38.

An online poll by Google Consumer Surveys gave Mr. Obama a 48 percent to 31 percent edge among registered voters.

There were also two scientific surveys about the debate conducted among voters in particular states.

A Public Policy Polling survey of Colorado voters who watched the debate found 48 percent declaring Mr. Obama the winner, and 44 percent for Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama’s advantage was clearer in the poll among independent voters, who

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2d Debate: Audience Questions Were Balanced, Time Allowed Was Not

In the Second Presidential Debate, I thought that the choice of questions was pretty even-handed. I counted 5 questions that in my opinion a priori favored President Obama: 3. Mr. Romney’s tax plan; 4. Female wages; 5. Romney as Bush; 7. Immigration; and 10. Outsourcing.

I counted at least 3 questions that favored Romney – 2. Secretary Chu and gas prices; 6. Not optimistic, living is expensive; and 8. Benghazi – though Ann Althouse thought that Q6 favored Obama because it was an invitation to emote. In addition, it could be argued that Q1 on employment at graduation and Q11 on misperceptions of the candidates favored Romney more than Obama, at least before one heard the answers. The question on assault weapons, though it was asked from a liberal perspective, was pretty innocuous for either side.

These assignments of political valences are far from clear. I would expect most people who watched the debate to disagree with me on at least 2 or 3 of my classifications. And, of course, some questions, such as the Romney as Bush one actually seemed to help Romney rather than Obama. But the conclusion would still seem robust: the questions asked by the audience were roughly balanced.

While the audience questions were fair, I thought that Candy Crowley did a poor job of keeping her own biases out of the debate, chiefly in her allocation of speaking time. Leaving aside her offering of an opinion on Benghazi, she quite consistently allowed Obama to make the last speech on questions, leading to a 3-minute gap in time allotted in favor of Obama (according to Politico). That means she gave 8% more time to Obama. And Romney was trying harder than Obama to get in the last word.

Romney was allowed to make the [...]

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