Monday, December 26, 2022

Lightning doesn't strike twice... or does it?

An unusual story from Massachusetts, where Raymond Roberts didn't simply win the lottery once, but rather bought SIX winning tickets. The odds of winning are apparently 1 in 1.8 million. I guess that, if you buy six tickets with the same numbers, then the odds of winning six times aren't actually any higher. An interesting case for probability exercises too.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Publication: How mandatory can we make vaccination? (Public Health Ethics)

Another paper has just been published. This makes two papers published in one month, after this previously announced one, although this newer one is only online so far. I'm not sure when it will be in print. It looks like the journal haven't actually published their November 2022 issue yet, so I suppose it's possible that it will get an official print date of this year - though probably more likely next year.

Here's the abstract:

"The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has refocused attention on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Some have suggested that vaccines ought to be mandatory, while others propose more moderate alternatives, such as incentives. This piece surveys a range of possible interventions, ranging from mandates through to education. All may have their place, depending on circumstances. However, it is worth clarifying the options available to policymakers, since there is sometimes confusion over whether a particular policy constitutes a mandate or not. Further, I illustrate a different kind of alternative to mandatory vaccination. Rather than seeking less coercive alternatives to a mandate, we might instead employ an alternative mandate, which requires people to do something less than get vaccinated. For instance, we might merely require people to attend an appointment at a vaccine clinic. Whether this mandatory attendance policy is justified will depend on specific circumstances, but it represents another way to promote vaccination, without mandating it. In some cases, this may represent an appropriate balance between promoting public health goals and respecting individual liberty."

And, as usual, a word cloud illustrating the content:

(I believe this was made by FreeWordCloudGenerator.)

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Publication: Why Strike Ballots are Undemocratic (The Political Quarterly)

My latest paper has just been published, with open access, in The Political Quarterly. It's about strike ballots, so rather topical at the moment.

Here's the abstract:

"Since 2016, new legislation governing strike ballots has made it more difficult for trade unions to achieve a mandate for industrial action. Such a mandate now requires that a majority of members vote in the ballot. This article argues that these balloting processes are undemocratic. The turnout requirement means that a mandate for industrial action does not simply depend on its level of popular support amongst union members. This has surprising consequences. Sometimes opponents of action would be better advised to abstain, rather than to vote against it. Thus, it is not always clear how they should vote. Whatever they do, their actions may be counterproductive. Further, even when they do know how best to promote their desired outcome, there may be a conflict between voting strategically and clearly expressing their true preferences. Consequently, there is no guarantee that the outcome of the ballot accurately reflects what people really want."

And here's a word cloud (produced by this handy site):

If you want to know a bit more, without reading the full paper, then it's based on issues that I blogged about earlier in the year, so that post is a kind of summary or preview of the paper.