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An impressive list of academics, including seven Oxford faculty members, signed a petition in mid-June calling for new strategies to deal with misinformation. It makes very good sense to desire competent opinion as opposed to misinformation, and to argue that democratic legitimacy of the referendum’s outcome in some sense rests upon informed choice. (A specific example of a helpful intervention is this letter from the UK Statistics Authority challenging the “potentially misleading” statement of Nigel Farage about the “independence dividend” of Brexit.) These epistemic interventions need to be given more thought, but they all share the same classic problem: Who …

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Yesterday, the Swiss voted on the proposal to provide a basic income sufficient to allow the people to live in a dignified manner and participate in public life. The proposal was voted down with 23.1 per cent of the voters in favour and 76.9 per cent against. With a participation rate of 46.3 per cent that boils down to little over 10 per cent of the Swiss population supporting basic income. No doubt the Swiss campaigners as well as those watching the referendum closely will be conducting a post-mortem of what happened and how to interpret these results. I for one believe …
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The British referendum is based on (at least) two bad ideas. The first is that the popular legitimacy of a referendum can restore the sovereignty of the British parliament. The Leave campaign believes they can take power from Brussels and give it back to Westminster. That is a fantasy. The British parliament will be more constrained and less effective if the UK leaves. The second bad idea is that referendums are more democratic than acts of parliament (which is the kind of decision that brought Great Britain this far in its relationship with Europe). By giving the people the chance …
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Dr Tristen Naylor, Oxford’s Lecturer in Diplomatic Studies, chatted with Tom Fletcher, the former British Ambassador and Downing Street foreign policy advisor, about his new book, Naked Diplomacy.  In this three-part series their discussion explores everything from diplomacy in the digital era to the divide between academics and policy makers — with a nod to the intertextuality of W.H. Auden and Black Sabbath along the way. For Part I, see here.    TF: In diplomacy, like any other trade, there are people who simplify and people who complicate. I tend to side with the simplifiers. TN: I can easily see that. Just taking the …
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Dr Tristen Naylor, Oxford’s Lecturer in Diplomatic Studies, chatted with Tom Fletcher, the former British Ambassador and Downing Street foreign policy advisor, about his new book, Naked Diplomacy. In this three-part series their discussion explores everything from diplomacy in the digital era to the divide between academics and policy makers — with a nod to the intertextuality of W.H. Auden and Black Sabbath along the way. See Part II here.     TN: Tom, your new book is Naked Diplomacy and your blog is The Naked Diplomat. Borrowing from Jamie Oliver as the ‘Naked Chef’, who sought to strip cooking back to its bare …
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Is it possible to have a more accurate prediction by asking people how confident they are that their preferred choice will win the day? As the Brexit referendum date approaches, the uncertainty regarding its outcome is increasing. And, so are concerns about the precision of the polls. The forecasts are, once again, suggesting a very close result. Ever since the general election of May 2015, criticism against pollsters has been rampant. They have been accused of complacency, herding, of making sampling errors, and even of deliberate manipulation of their results. The UK is hardly the only country where pollsters are …
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Dr Ben Lauderdale from the Department of Methodology at the London School of Economics and Political Science delivered a special masterclass on Tuesday 24th May 2016. Ben’s research focuses on the measurement of political preferences from survey, voting, network and text with a particular focus on using text data. This event presented the latest developments in ways social scientists can use text and provides an excellent opportunity to explore the promises but also the limitations of this quickly expanding research field. For further information on text analysis in social science see Felix Krawatzek and Andy Eggers Podcast Series.
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