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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

I owe it all to my Neanderthal genes

Yesterday I posted a methods-focused item at the Monkey Cage, a follow-up of a post from a couple years ago arguing against some dramatic claims by economists Ashraf and Galor regarding the wealth of nations. No big deal, just some standard-issue skepticism. But for some reason this one caught fire—maybe somebody important linked to it, […]

Risk aversion is a two-way street

“Risk aversion” comes up a lot in microeconomics, but I think that it’s too broad a concept to do much for us. In many many cases, it seems to me that, when there is a decision option, either behavior X or behavior not-X can be thought as risk averse, depending on the framing. Thus, when […]

“Cancer Research Is Broken”

Michael Oakes pointed me to this excellent news article by Daniel Engber, subtitled, “There’s a replication crisis in biomedicine—and no one even knows how deep it runs.” Engber suggests that the replication problem in biomedical research is worse than the much-publicized replication problem in psychology. One reason, which I didn’t see Engber discussing, is financial […]

GIGO

Lee Wilkinson writes: In the latest issue of Harvard Magazine (http://www.harvardmagazine.com/2015/12/cambridge-02138), a letter writer (David W. Pittelli) comments under the section “Social Progress Index”: We are informed by Harvard Magazine (November-December 2015, page 15) that the country with the best “Health and Wellness” (“Do people live long and healthy lives?”) is Peru, while the United […]

Black Box Challenge

Georgy Cheremovskiy writes: I’m one of the organizers of an unusual reinforcement learning competition named Black Box Challenge. The conception is simple — one need to program an agent that can play a game with unknown rules. At each time step agent is given an environment state vector and has a few possible actions. The […]

John Yoo blogging

Jonathan Falk sends along this gem: Judicial Torture as a Screening Device Kong-Pin Chen / Tsung-Sheng Tsai Judicial torture to extract information or to elicit a confession was a common practice in pre-modern societies, both in the east and the west. This paper proposes a positive theory for judicial torture. It is shown that torture […]

These celebrity photos are incredible: Type S errors in use!

Kaveh sends along this, from a recent talk at Berkeley by Katherine Casey: It’s so gratifying to see this sort of thing in common use, only 15 years after Francis and I introduced the idea (and see also this more recent paper with Carlin).

Gresham’s Law of experimental methods

A cognitive scientist writes: You’ll be interested to see a comment from one of my students, who’s trying to follow all your advice: It’s hard to see all this bullshit in top journals, while I see that if I do things right, it takes a long time, and I don’t have the beautiful results these […]

Data-dependent prior as an approximation to hierarchical model

Andy Solow writes: I have a question about Bayesian statistics. Why is it wrong to use the same data to formulate the prior and to update it to the posterior? I am having a hard time coming up with – or finding in the literature – a formal reason. I asked him to elaborate and […]

Actually, I’d just do full Bayes

Dave Clark writes: I was hoping for your opinion on a topic related to hierarchical models. I am an actuary and have generally worked with the concept of hierarchical models in the context of credibility theory. The text by Bühlmann and Gisler (A Course in Credibility Theory; Springer) sets up the mixed models under the […]

How should statisticians and economists think about recreational gambling?

Recreational gambling is a lot like recreational drinking, in that it is pleasant, and it can be abused, and the very aspects that make it pleasant are related to what makes it so destructive when abused. Also, both industries make a lot of money, so there’s a continuing tug of war between those who sell […]

Stan – The Bayesian Data Scientist’s Best Friend

My friend Juuso Parkkinen has interesting Stan related blog, which is worth following. The above cool animation is from today’s post discussing the updated results of using Stan to model apartment prices in Finland. Few weeks ago Juuso also blogged about a probabilistic programming seminar in Finland with a title Stan – The Bayesian Data […]

I was wrong

A few years ago I noted a report of a new journal with a title that, to my amusement, seemed to reflect a Rat-Pack-era sensibility. I wrote: Coase and Wang’s new journal might be great, but I bet it won’t be called “Man and the Economy.” But, as the image above shows, I was wrong.

Fundamental difficulty of inference for a ratio when the denominator could be positive or negative

I happened to come across this post from 2011, which in turn is based on thoughts of mine from about 1993. It’s important and most of you probably haven’t seen it, so here it is again: Ratio estimates are common in statistics. In survey sampling, the ratio estimate is when you use y/x to estimate […]

Postdoc opportunity with Sophia Rabe-Hesketh and me in Berkeley!

Sophia writes: Mark Wilson, Zach Pardos and I are looking for a postdoc to work with us on a range of projects related to educational assessment and statistical modeling, such as Bayesian modeling in Stan (joint with Andrew Gelman). See here for more details. We will accept applications until February 26. The position is for […]

Empirical violation of Arrow’s theorem!

Regular blog readers know about Arrow’s theorem, which is that any result can be published no more than five times. Well . . . I happened to be checking out Retraction Watch the other day and came across this: “Exactly the same clinical study” published six times Here’s the retraction notice in the journal Inflammation: […]

“Why IT Fumbles Analytics Projects”

Someone pointed me to this Harvard Business Review article by Donald Marchand and Joe Peppard, “Why IT Fumbles Analytics,” which begins as follows: In their quest to extract insights from the massive amounts of data now available from internal and external sources, many companies are spending heavily on IT tools and hiring data scientists. Yet […]

2 new reasons not to trust published p-values: You won’t believe what this rogue economist has to say.

Political scientist Anselm Rink points me to this paper by economist Alwyn Young which is entitled, “Channelling Fisher: Randomization Tests and the Statistical Insignificance of Seemingly Significant Experimental Results,” and begins, I [Young] follow R.A. Fisher’s The Design of Experiments, using randomization statistical inference to test the null hypothesis of no treatment effect in a […]

My namesake doesn’t seem to understand the principles of decision analysis

It says “Never miss another deadline.” But if you really could never miss your deadlines, you’d just set your deadlines earlier, no? It’s statics vs. dynamics all over again. That said, this advice seems reasonable: The author has also developed a foolproof method of structuring your writing, so that you make effective use of your […]

MTA sucks

They had a sign on the wall promoting this Easy Pay express metrocard that would auto-refill and I was like, cool, so when I got to the ofc I looked it up, found the sign-up page, gave my information and chose the EasyPayXpress PayPerRide Plan, clicked on lu et endendu or whatever they call it, […]