Tyler on UFOs

by on July 9, 2007 at 7:20 am in Science | Permalink

Discover Your Inner Economist has lots of great insights.  But this one Tyler gets all wrong.

Small changes in incentives can make a big difference in our beliefs.  For instance, UFO sightings are down dramatically in the last decade…I think [one factor is] cell phones and cell phone cameras.

"The spaceship was in a no-call dead zone.  And you didn’t snap a picture?"

…The story is suddenly a little harder to swallow.  Most of all, it is harder to fool oneself, not just one’s spouse and friends.

I mean really.  Why jump to conclusions?  OBVIOUSLY the aliens know we have cell phone cameras now.

1 Matthew July 9, 2007 at 7:26 am

For those of us who don’t have the book, can you give us the reference for less UFO citings?

2 Ted Craig July 9, 2007 at 8:38 am

Know we have them? Where do you think we got them from?

3 matt July 9, 2007 at 10:51 am

mc — lighten up francis…

4 RonnieB July 9, 2007 at 11:22 am

Hmm, you and Megan both have posts this morning concerning our utter
futility in dealing with creatures from other worlds. Anyone know of
a prediction market regarding alien invasions?

5 Joshua Holmes July 9, 2007 at 12:31 pm

This is easily explained by the fact that the aliens recently developed cloaking devices.

6 happyjuggler0 July 9, 2007 at 2:09 pm

I agree with Johnny Debacle. The benefits to blogging for Tyler and Alex are higher with ad revenues, and is higher when they can plug any books they have. Thus the marginal extra revenues shift the should-I-post curve to the benefit of the readers. There are quality benefits at the margin as well as quantity. Some of my favorite bloggers don’t post nearly as much as they used to, or have even quasi-permanently stopped blogging. Anecdotally they all seem(ed) to have no ads.

Posts like this one from Alex also lower discovery costs for potential readers of the book. Who knew it had stuff on UFO’s?

7 Robert July 9, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Proper UFOs, of course, are known to disable all electronics and machinery within range of their super-jamming device. 😉

8 Jacqueline July 9, 2007 at 4:23 pm

MC: Do you work for free? Why do you expect others to?

9 Dick King July 9, 2007 at 4:40 pm

UFOs always land in cornfields because they run on ethanol.

-dk

10 Mike H. July 9, 2007 at 6:08 pm

From what source did you get the UFO sighting statistics?

11 agent00yak July 10, 2007 at 5:05 am

On the subject of Tyler’s books, the conversation in the comment got me to browse the sidebar again. At some point I really should order all of the books by Cowen and Tabarrok that I haven’t yet ordered. mc’s complaint probably helps Tyler and Alex more than it hurts them. Any publicity is good publicity. The marginal cost for me would be small as most of them would count as “research”, but for my job I’d probably get more utility from reading Cowen’s “Risk and Business Cycles” along with Garrison’s “Time and Money” a few more times.

(Even more off topic: Looking around for other things Tyler has done on macroeconomics, I am now kicking myself for not requesting “Old 615 macroeconomics exam questions with answers” in his earlier “request posts in comments” post.)

But the reason for my comment is that the browsing of Tyler’s books brought up an interesting statistic which probably occured due to low sample size:

50% buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J. K. Rowling $17.99

50% buy the item featured on this page:What Price Fame? by Tyler Cowen $17.95

That said, I’d be wary of the claim that UFO sightings have decreased. My first impression is that the internet has given UFO viewers different outlets/forums to discuss their sightings, reducing the percentage that make it into “official” sightings.

12 Colin Fraizer July 10, 2007 at 11:45 am

I agree with Jeremy. Fewer.

13 Mr. Econotarian July 10, 2007 at 12:47 pm

They don’t need any more ships.

They are already here.

14 Anonymous July 11, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Very interesting. I don’t believe in UFOs, but I want to point out that the camera phone explanation doesn’t hold up.

Most “sightings” are at night. All camera phones operate very poorly under low light. If there was no light present besides the UFO, it’s doubtful that the camera phone could capture it. Even good cameras, would struggle under those circumstances.

Camera phones aren’t exactly good at capturing anything.

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16 structural foam February 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I thing the time will come when everybody will have the chance to meet with our ET friends…They are all over and in different dimensions as well. Watch out 2012!

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