Today’s puzzler is simple: Why would Kim Jong Un think it was a good idea to threaten the US with a possible “pre-emptive nuclear attack”? This week’s threat is especially puzzling given the response it elicited from the UN Security Council, which promptly unanimously agreed to pass tougher sanctions on North Korea. (And yes, the UN Security Council includes China, which jointly drafted the sanctions along with the US.) Given this response, what was KJU thinking?
Answer to last week’s puzzler:
Last week I asked why uneducated women in Pakistan might be more likely to support the Taliban than equally uneducated men. I also asked why women’s support appeared to decrease as they became more educated, while men’s increased. This question received two very interesting responses. Brian Urlacher astutely observed that interviews with females in rural parts of Pakistan were likely to be conducted in the presence of a husband or father, and that under these conditions women had incentives to appear more supportive of militants than they actually were. I think these interviewer effects almost certainly exist, but this doesn’t explain two patterns. Why would illiterate women claim to be more supportive than illiterate men? If you assume that many of these women’s husbands and fathers were also illiterate (which might be a strong assumption), why wouldn’t their level of support be different? It also doesn’t explain the pattern we see more generally, which is that less educated women tend to support more conservative forms of religion even when these religions significantly impinge on women’s rights.
Michael Dennis offers a possible explanation for this finding. It’s possible that illiterate women in rural Pakistan are the main beneficiaries of social services the Taliban is willing to provide: security, justice, and basic services. As women become more educated, wealthier and more urban, the need for these service declines and the negative effects of the Taliban’s policies become more apparent. It’s the very helplessness of rural, illiterate women that make them dependent on and supportive of even the most extreme group.