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Can the hurly-burly world of politics be analyzed and explained scientifically?

The founders of a new online publication, titled "Statistics, Politics and Policy," believe so. The Berkeley Electronic Press is publishing the journal, which, it says, "studies the ways in which statistical analysis drives public policy decisions, and publishes significant research on the application of statistical ideas to problems that relate to policy implementation.

"In addition to applied research articles, the peer-reviewed journal includes timely and engaging commentaries about public issues where statistics plays a role. The journal will appeal to statisticians, policy analysts, and anyone interested in the implicit yet powerful ways that statistical thinking influences decisions that affect many aspects of public life. Editors come from highly regarded statistics and public policy programs such as UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Harvard, and the University of Southern California."

Papers in the initial issue include:

• "Using a Density-Variation/Compactness Measure to Evaluate Redistricting Plans for Partisan Bias and Electoral Responsiveness" by Thomas R. Belin, Heidi J. Fischer, and Corwin M. Zigler;

• "The Spread of Evidence-Poor Medicine via Flawed Social-Network Analysis" by Russell Lyons;

• "Assessing the Early Aberration Reporting System's Ability to Locally Detect the 2009 Influenza Pandemic" by Katie S. Hagen, Ronald D. Fricker Jr., Krista D. Hanni, Susan Barnes, and Kristy Michie;

• "Measuring Elusive Populations with Bayesian Model Averaging for Multiple Systems Estimation: A Case Study on Lethal Violations in Casanare, 1998-2007" by Kristian Lum, Megan Price, Tamy Guberek, and Patrick Ball; and

• "Atmospheric Circulations Do Not Explain the Temperature-Industrialization Correlation" by Ross McKitrick.

There's nary a word about Rep. Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal, but the journal does include one piece of more or less conventional politics, albeit somewhat dated, titled "A Snapshot of the 2008 Election" by Andrew Gelman, Daniel Lee and Yair Ghitza.

The first issue can be found here.


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