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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

“Where in your education were you taught about intellectual honesty?”

Haynes Goddard asks: Here is the question I want to put to this blog’s readers. Where in your education were you taught about intellectual honesty? I don’t mean academic dishonesty such as cheating and plagiarism which are actively controlled. I am told it is covered in classes on critical thinking, mainly in Philosophy Depts. Where […]

The Data Detective, by Tim Harford

Economics reporter Tim Harford came out with this new book connecting three topics: – The understanding of statistical evidence and uncertainty, – The realization that lots of published and publicized social science can’t be trusted, – Our political discourse that is heavy on lies and light on trust. What Harford says makes sense: statistical reasoning […]

What about that new paper estimating the effects of lockdowns etc?

A couple people pointed me to this article, “Assessing Mandatory Stay‐at‐Home and Business Closure Effects on the Spread of COVID‐19,” which reports: The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. . . . We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs […]

Megan Higgs (statistician) and Anna Dreber (economist) on how to judge the success of a replication

The discussion started with this comment from Megan Higgs regarding a recent science replication initiative: I [Higgs] was immediately curious about their criteria for declaring a study replicated. In a quick skim of the info in the google form, here it is: In the survey of beliefs, you will be asked for (a) the probability […]

Does regression discontinuity (or, more generally, causal identification + statistical significance) make you gullible?

Yes basically. This one’s pretty much a perfect example of overfitting, finding a discontinuity out of noise, in that if you just draw a smooth line through each graph, it actually looks better than the discontinuous version. We see this a lot: There’s no discontinuity in the data, but it’s possible to make a discontinuity […]

No, this senatorial stock-picking study does not address concerns about insider trading:

Jonathan Falk writes: As you have tirelessly promoted, a huge problem with NHST is that “insignificant” effects on average can mask, via attenuation bias, important changes in subgroups. Further, as you have somewhat less tirelessly pointed out, you need much bigger samples to reliably see anything in subgroups, particularly when (ok.. you’re back to your […]

No, It’s Not a Prisoner’s Dilemma (the second in a continuing series):

The prisoner’s dilemma is the original counterintuitive hot take. Some social scientists and journalists just looove that dilemma because of how delightfully paradoxical it can be. But some situations that are described as prisoner’s dilemmas aren’t really. I discussed one such example in my article, Methodology as ideology: Some comments on Robert Axelrod’s “The Evolution […]

Publishing in Antarctica

This one came in the email today: Dear Gelman Andrew, I am ** from ** ** Academic Publishing, a publishing house founded in Germany in 2002. We would be interested to publish a printed book based on your research in the field of Charles Murray’s Coming Apart and the measurement of social and political divisions. […]

More on the Heckman curve

David Rea writes: A slightly more refined version of our paper on the Heckman Curve [discussed on blog last year] has been published in the Journal of Economic Surveys. The journal will also publish a response by James Heckman, as well as a reply from us. As you predicted, James Heckman’s critique of our work […]

Risk aversion is not a thing

I came across this post by Alex Tabarrok arguing that people should be given one rather than two doses of a new vaccine. I know nothing about these vaccines but my attention was drawn to this statement from Alex: We should vaccinate 6 million people with first dose NOW. It is deadly cautious to hold […]

In this particular battle between physicists and economists, I’m taking the economists’ side.

Palko writes, “When the arrogance of physicists and economists collide, it’s kind of like watching Godzilla battle Rodan . . . you aren’t really rooting for either side but you can still enjoy the show.” Hey! Some of my best friends are physicists and economists! But I know what he’s talking about. Here’s the story […]


If you can argue that knuckleheads are rational And that assholes serve the public good, But then turn around and tell us we need you To nudge us as you know we should; If you can be proud of your “repugnant ideas” And style yourself a rogue without taboo, If you assume everyone is fundamentally […]

What’s Google’s definition of retractable?

Timnit Gebru, a computer scientist known best for her work on ethics and algorithmic bias in AI/ML applications like face recognition, was fired yesterday from co-leading Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team. Apparently this was triggered by an email she sent to members of her team. Social media is exploding over this, and I don’t have […]

Understanding Janet Yellen

I don’t know anything about Janet Yellen, the likely nominee for Secretary of the Treasury. For the purpose of this post, my ignorance is OK, even desirable, in that my goal is to try to understand mixed messages that I’m receiving. Two constrasting views on the prospective Treasury Secretary First, here’s Joseph Delaney: So, I […]

Today in spam

1. From “William Jessup,” subject line “Invitation: Would you like to join GlobalWonks?”: Dear Richard, I wanted to follow up one last time about my invitation to join our expert-network. We are happy to compensate you for up to $900 per hour for our client engagements. If you would like to join us, you may […]

Is vs. ought in the study of public opinion: Coronavirus “opening up” edition

I came across this argument between two of my former co-bloggers which illustrates a general difficulty when thinking about political attitudes, which is confusion between two things: (a) public opinion, and (b) what we want public opinion to be. This is something I’ve been thinking about for many years, ever since our Red State Blue […]

Why it can be rational to vote

I think I can best do my civic duty by running this one every Election Day, just like Art Buchwald on Thanksgiving. . . .

Sh*ttin brix in the tail…

After my conversation with Andrew yesterday about The Economist election forecasting model I got curious about how G. Elliot, Merlin and Andrew want their prediction to be assessed given the menu of strange contingencies we have in front of us. I checked Betfair rules for some guidance: This market will be settled according to the candidate […]

Piranhas in the rain: Why instrumental variables are not as clean as you might have thought

Woke up in my clothes again this morning I don’t know exactly where I am And I should heed my doctor’s warning He does the best with me he can He claims I suffer from delusion But I’m so confident I’m sane It can’t be a statistical illusion So how can you explain Piranhas in […]

“Everybody wants to be Jared Diamond”

As the saying goes, “Everybody wants to be Jared Diamond, that’s the problem.” (See also here and here.) The funny thing is, this principle also applies to . . . Jared Diamond himself! See this review by Anand Giridharadas, sent to me by Mark Palko.

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