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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

Flamebait: “Mathiness” in economics and political science

Political scientist Brian Silver points me to his post by economist Paul Romer, who writes: The style that I [Romer] am calling mathiness lets academic politics masquerade as science. Like mathematical theory, mathiness uses a mixture of words and symbols, but instead of making tight links, it leaves ample room for slippage between statements in […]

Annals of Spam

OK, explain to me this email: God day, How are you? My name is **. I came across your contact email at the University of Cyprus, Department of Economics. I seek for a private Economics teacher for my Daughter. I would like to know if you would be available for job. If you would be […]

Low-power pose

“The samples were collected in privacy, using passive drool procedures, and frozen immediately.” Anna Dreber sends along a paper, “Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women,” which she published in Psychological Science with coauthors Eva Ranehill, Magnus Johannesson, Susanne Leiberg, Sunhae […]

Amtrak is evil

Hmmmm, coverage for travel delay, that might not be so bad. This is Amtrak, after all. Let’s click through to the fine print: They’ll cover me for a departure delay of six or more hours, huh? Nice try in your attempt to scam me out of $8.50. It didn’t work this time, but, hey, why […]

Draw your own graph!

Bob writes: You must have seen this. I like it. But not enough to spend time blogging about it. I’ll try blogging it myself . . . OK, yeah, this interactive graph is great. It reminds me of “scatterplot charades” exercises we do in class from time to time. Somebody should write a program so […]


I don’t know if he has to say that this body type are actually better for a baseball player. Maybe it’s enough to just make the case that, Moneyball-style, players with this shape are underrated. P.S. I still don’t see why James chose in his book to summarize players by games played, home runs, RBI, […]

Emails I never finished reading

This one came in today (i.e., 2 months ago): Dear colleague, Can I ask you a quick question? I am seeing more and more research projects (many in the economic sciences) in which researchers use dummy-codes to account for non-independence due to higher-order units. So when the researchers have data from employees in 15 different […]

Vizzy vizzy vizzy viz

Nadia Hassan points me to this post by Matthew Yglesias, who writes: Here’s a very cool data visualization from that took me a minute to figure out because it’s a little bit unorthodox. The way it works is that it visualizes the entire world’s economic output as a circle. That circle is then subdivided […]

“Soylent 1.5” < black beans and yoghurt

Mark Palko quotes Justin Fox: On Monday, software engineer Rob Rhinehart published an account of his new life without alternating electrical current — which he has undertaken because generating that current “produces 32 percent of all greenhouse gases, more than any other economic sector.” Connection to the power grid isn’t all Rhinehart has given up. […]

Macartan Humphreys on the Worm Wars

My Columbia political science colleague shares “What Has Been Learned from the Deworming Replications: A Nonpartisan View”: Last month there was another battle in a dispute between economists and epidemiologists over the merits of mass deworming.1 In brief, economists claim there is clear evidence that cheap deworming interventions have large effects on welfare via increased […]


The following bit of irrelevance appeared on the stan-users mailing list: On Jun 11, 2015, at 11:29 AM, Joanna Caldwell wrote: Webinar: Tips & Tricks to Improve Your Logistic Regression . . . Registration Link: . . . Abstract: Logistic regression is a commonly used tool to analyze binary classification problems. However, logistic regression still […]

Annals of Spam

I received the following email with subject line, “Andrew, just finished ‘Foreign language skills …’”: Andrew, Just finished This leads to the silliness of considering foreign language skills as a purely positional good or as a method for selecting students, while forgetting the direct benefits of being able to communicate in various ways with […]

Survey weighting and regression modeling

Yphtach Lelkes points us to a recent article on survey weighting by three economists, Gary Solon, Steven Haider, and Jeffrey Wooldridge, who write: We start by distinguishing two purposes of estimation: to estimate population descriptive statistics and to estimate causal effects. In the former type of research, weighting is called for when it is needed […]

Economists betting on replication

Mark Patterson writes: A bunch of folks are collaborating on a project to replicate 18 experimental studies published in prominent Econ journals (mostly American Economic Review, a few Quarterly Journal of Economics). This is already pretty exciting, but the really cool bit is they’re opening a market (with real money) to predict which studies will […]

In which a complete stranger offers me a bet

Piotr Mitros wrote to Deb and me: I read, with pleasure, your article about the impossibility of biasing a coin. I’m curious as to whether researchers believe what they write. Would you be willing to place some form of iterated bet? For example: I provide a two-sided coin and a table. The table looks like […]

Kaiser’s beef

The Numbersense guy writes in: Have you seen this? It has one of your pet peeves… let’s draw some data-driven line in the categorical variable and show significance. To make it worse, he adds a final paragraph saying essentially this is just a silly exercise that I hastily put together and don’t take it seriously! […]

Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist

Brent Goldfarb and Andrew King, in a paper to appear in the journal Strategic Management, write: In a recent issue of this journal, Bettis (2012) reports a conversation with a graduate student who forthrightly announced that he had been trained by faculty to “search for asterisks”. The student explained that he sifted through large databases […]

I actually think this infographic is ok

Under the heading, “bad charts,” Mark Duckenfield links to this display by Quoctrung Bui and writes: So much to go with here, but I [Duckenfield] would just highlight the bars as the most egregious problem as it is implied that the same number of people are in each category. Obviously that is not the case […]

The connection between varying treatment effects and the well-known optimism of published research findings

Jacob Hartog writes: I thought this article [by Hunt Allcott and Sendhil Mullainathan], although already a couple of years old, fits very well into the themes of your blog—in particular the idea that the “true” treatment effect is likely to vary a lot depending on all kinds of factors that we can and cannot observe, […]

There’s No Such Thing As Unbiased Estimation. And It’s a Good Thing, Too.

Following our recent post on econometricians’ traditional privileging of unbiased estimates, there were a bunch of comments echoing the challenge of teaching this topic, as students as well as practitioners often seem to want the comfort of an absolute standard such as best linear unbiased estimate or whatever. Commenters also discussed the tradeoff between bias […]