Statistics and Political Science

Political scientists these days have such large numbers and such complexity of social interactions, causes and effects and other activity that there is no way to avoid gaining an understanding of statistical science.

 Whether they are investigating social phenomena for legal, judicial, campaigning, legislative matters or for purposes of developing and implementing local and international publicprograms, political scienctists are as tied to statistical work as any other social science.

Of the social sciences, political science is one field that is most likely to need advanced ways to study and understand what is going on with  the largest social groups of humans in history. They need tools for modeling possible outcomes of various conditions, for forecasting probability and to summarize, test, analyze and use information from the most massive databases of information in history.

Of the social sciences, political science involves the legal, political, medical, religious, military, governmental and intergovernmental decisions that are made to have the largest and long lasting impacts on society and on the world. This requires an understanding of the geographical, demographic, economic, environmental, census and a host of other facts about people and societies and about the interactions between people and societies.

Political scientists deal with the economic, legal, health and political impacts of disease, for example. At the simplest level, they need data in order to make policy decisions that will affect many humans. Vital statistics are needed to determine the location, volume, spread and virulence of a disease. Political scientists needdata that identifies the current situation, the costs, benefits and impact of preventive and eradication programs, the economic and social consequences, the political, social and religious barriers and boundaries, and the probabilities of future outbreaks. This all requires statistical tools and resources, including complex modeling technology and tools.

The statistics of global and regional human migration is another area that involves massive amounts of data that is important to political scientists. Why do people migrate? From and to where do they migrate? What is the rate, change and consequence of the migration? Do people’s lives generally improve or decline and why? Or, are people moving to areas that are saturated and barely capable of taking in more population?

Hypotheses that involve cause and effect would have to be tested. Probability statistics would help to forecast the effect of changes to the drug sentencing laws on a variety of societal factors. More data would be collected, analyzed and tested. Other social phenomena such as people’s attitudes toward drug crimes, the effect on voting patterns and elections, and the unforeseen social outcomes would be identified through an ongoing processes of statistical data gathering and analysis.

Sadly, political scientists can also be expert at misusing statistics to justify decisions, for social engineering and for less than stellar reasons. Associating cause and effect or making other biased and unethical statistical errors can be used to support and to institute decision making that is flawed, destructive or extreme in nature.

In summary, data provides information. Statistics allows the information to be analyzed, presented summarized, tested, experimented upon, and modeled to test cause and effect or to forecast probability. Political science is the engine of decisions that affect whole communities, societies, religions and nations of the world. The larger the numbers of people and other living things and the more complex the relationships involved, the more there is a need for political scientists to develop a good understanding of statistical science.