Jan. 8, 2010

Latke-Hamentash coverage included misquotes

I was delighted to see your coverage of the recent Latke-Hamentash debate (“Protesters call for gefilte fish at Latke-Hamantash Debate,” 11/30/09), but I would like to correct you on one point. Regarding my remarks, you write, “Bueno de Mesquita advocated for the introduction of Sephardic foods to the debate, like honey-baked ham, which he said is ‘both deliciously sweet and deliciously savory.’” I did indeed argue for the introduction of Sephardic food and it is indisputable that honey-baked ham is deliciously sweet and deliciously savory, but I did not suggest that honey-baked ham is Sephardic food. Even the rabbis of Spain would not countenance eating pork! Instead, I argued that once additional options are introduced (in this case, a perfectly kosher Sephardic Passover cookie), the logic of majority rule would allow us to arrive at ever more extreme positions, even something as absurd as honey-baked ham. And, I hypothesized, since we can’t have honey-baked ham winning the Latke-Hamentash debate, Sephardic food continues to be excluded. I built my remarks around an important result from social choice theory: the McKelvey-Schofield Chaos Theorem. I hope some students interested in the mathematical study of politics will make their way over to the Harris School to learn about it in a more scholarly setting.

Ethan Bueno de Mesquita

Associate Professor

Harris School of Public Policy Studies