Friday, October 24, 2014

Cognitive style and public policy outcomes

Critics, including Green, like to satirize Obama's cool by comparing him to Spock. But Spock, though often played for laughs, was a damn fine officer. His clear thinking not only saved the Enterprise on countless occasions but was instrumental in brokering a historic peace accord between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
That is Matt Yglesias, defending Obama's cognitive style from the critics. Establishing a connection between policy outcomes and cognitive profile among presidents is very difficult. Unlike most lawmakers, presidents don't produce a neat, large dataset of votes that lends itself to causal analysis. What's more, factors like cultural and technological change produce qualitative differences in the political context that every president operates in. Isolating the causal effect of cognitive traits on policy outcomes might very well be impossible. But regardless, the post has some excellent points about media incentives and racial bias as well.

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