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Archive of posts filed under the Economics category.

What do CERN, the ISS, and Stephen Fry have in Common?

You’ll have to read the New Yorker article on Richard M. Stallman and the The GNU Manifesto by Maria Bustillos to find out! And what’s up with Tim O’Reilly’s comments about the Old Testment vs. New Testament?   That’s an ad hominem attack of the highest order, guaranteed to get the Judeo-Christians even more riled […]

“Unbiasedness”: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. [My talk tomorrow in the Princeton economics department]

The talk is tomorrow, Tues 24 Feb, 2:40-4:00pm in 200 Fisher Hall: “Unbiasedness”: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University Minimizing bias is the traditional first goal of econometrics. In many cases, though, the […]

Oh, it’s so frustrating when you’re trying to help someone out, and then you realize you’re dealing with a snake.

This happens sometimes. Someone comes to you with a request, maybe it’s a student or a potential student or just someone who has a question relating to your field of expertise. You’re in a good mood so you decide to help out, or maybe you feel it’s your duty to be helpful, or, who knows, […]

Economics/sociology phrase book

Mark Palko points me to this amusing document from Jeffrey Smith and Kermit Daniel, translating sociology jargon into economics and vice-versa. Lots of good jokes there. Along these lines, I’ve always been bothered by economists’ phrase “willingness to pay” which, in practice, often means “ability to pay.” And, of course, “earnings” which means “how much […]

Cognitive vs. behavioral in psychology, economics, and political science

I’ve been coming across these issues from several different directions lately, and I wanted to get the basic idea down without killing myself in the writing of it. So consider this a sketchy first draft. The starting point is “behavioral economics,” also known as the “heuristics and biases” subfield of cognitive psychology. It’s associated with […]

What’s misleading about the phrase, “Statistical significance is not the same as practical significance”

You’ve heard it a million times, the idea is that if you have an estimate of .003 (on some reasonable scale in which 1 is a meaningful effect size) and a standard error of .001 then, yes, the estimate is statistically significant but it’s not practically significant. And, indeed, sometimes this sort of thing comes […]

Relaxed plagiarism standards as a way to keep the tuition dollars flowing from foreign students

Interesting comment thread at Basbøll’s blog regarding the difficult position of college writing instructors when confronted with blatant student plagiarism. Randall Westgren writes: I believe the easiest part of the patchwriting [plagiarism] phenomenon to understand is why writing instructors are leading the charge. Professor Howard is caught between a herd of high-value (i.e. full-tuition and […]

It’s Too Hard to Publish Criticisms and Obtain Data for Replication

Peter Swan writes: The problem you allude to in the above reference and in your other papers on ethics is a broad and serious one. I and my students have attempted to replicate a number of top articles in the major finance journals. Either they cannot be replicated due to missing data or what might […]

Message to Booleans: It’s an additive world, we just live in it

Boolean models (“it’s either A or (B and C)”) seem to be the natural way that we think, but additive models (“10 points if you have A, 3 points if you have B, 2 points if you have C”) seem to describe reality better—at least, the aspects of reality that I study in my research. […]

“Now the company appears to have screwed up badly, and they’ve done it in pretty much exactly the way you would expect a company to screw up when it doesn’t drill down into the data.”

Palko tells a good story: One of the accepted truths of the Netflix narrative is that CEO Reed Hastings is obsessed with data and everything the company does is data driven . . . Of course, all 21st century corporations are relatively data-driven. The fact that Netflix has large data sets on customer behavior does […]

Subtleties with measurement-error models for the evaluation of wacky claims

Paul Pudaite writes: In the latest Journal of the American Statistical Association (September 2014, Vol. 109 No. 507), Andrew Harvey and Alessandra Luati published a paper [preprint here] — “Filtering With Heavy Tails” — featuring the phenomenon you had asked about (“…(non-Gaussian) models for which, as y gets larger, E(x|y) can actually go back toward […]

How to read (in quantitative social science). And by implication, how to write.

It all started when I was reading Chris Blattman’s blog and noticed this: One of the most provocative and interesting field experiments I [Blattman] have seen in this year: Poor people often do not make investments, even when returns are high. One possible explanation is that they have low aspirations and form mental models of […]

4-year-old post on Arnold Zellner is oddly topical

I’m re-running this Arnold Zellner obituary because it is relevant to two recent blog discussions: 1. Differences between econometrics and statistics 2. Old-fashioned sexism (of the quaint, not the horrible, variety)

Question about data mining bias in finance

Finance professor Ravi Sastry writes: Let’s say we have N vectors of data, {y_1,y_2,…,y_N}. Each is used as the dependent variable in a series of otherwise identical OLS regressions, yielding t-statistics on some parameter of interest, theta: {t_1,t_2,…,t_N}. The maximum t-stat is denoted t_n*, and the corresponding data are y_n*. These are reported publicly, as […]

“Differences Between Econometrics and Statistics” (my talk this Monday at the University of Pennsylvania econ dept)

Differences Between Econometrics and Statistics:  that’s the title of the talk I’ll be giving at the econometrics workshop at noon on Monday. At 4pm 4:30pm in the same place, I’ll be speaking on Stan. And here are some things for people to read: For “Differences between econometrics and statistics”: Everyone’s trading bias for variance at […]

Social research is not the same as health research: Macartan Humphreys gives new guidelines for ethics in social science research

In reaction to the recent controversy about a research project that interfered with an election in Montana, political scientist Macartan Humphreys shares some excellent ideas on how to think about ethics in social science research: Social science researchers rely on principles developed by health researchers that do not always do the work asked of them […]

Ray Could Write

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections, To find his happiness in another kind of wood And be punished under a foreign code of conscience. . . . You were silly like us; your gift survived it all: For chess makes nothing happen: it survives In the […]

“Your Paper Makes SSRN Top Ten List”

I received the following email from the Social Science Research Network, which is a (legitimate) preprint server for research papers: Dear Andrew Gelman: Your paper, “WHY HIGH-ORDER POLYNOMIALS SHOULD NOT BE USED IN REGRESSION DISCONTINUITY DESIGNS”, was recently listed on SSRN’s Top Ten download list for: PSN: Econometrics, Polimetrics, & Statistics (Topic) and Political Methods: […]

Hoe noem je?

Haynes Goddard writes: Reviewing my notes and books on categorical data analysis, the term “nominal” is widely employed to refer to variables without any natural ordering. I was a language major in UG school and knew that the etymology of nominal is the Latin word nomen (from the Online Etymological Dictionary: early 15c., “pertaining to […]

Prediction Market Project for the Reproducibility of Psychological Science

Anna Dreber Almenberg writes: The second prediction market project for the reproducibility project will soon be up and running – please participate! There will be around 25 prediction markets, each representing a particular study that is currently being replicated. Each study (and thus market) can be summarized by a key hypothesis that is being tested, which […]