Assorted links

by on March 9, 2014 at 11:29 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Are women attracted to fast cyclists?

2. Can you entertain your customers too much?

3. Some new results on offshoring.

4. H&M is making a $99 wedding dress.

5. Using Google Glass in hospitals.  And should Fed minutes be published in “real time”?

6. The growing renown of Knausgaard, “The governing emotion of My Struggle is shame.”

Someone from the other side March 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

Is it a wedding dress because someone (in this case, H&M) says it is?

F. Lynx Pardinus March 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

Any dress can be a wedding dress if one wears it to their wedding.

A Definite Beta Guy March 9, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Yes. As the article references again and again….signal, signal, signal! Call me a traffic light, says Wedding Planner, all I do is signal.

KLO March 9, 2014 at 11:57 am

Cycling is a team sport in which participants have well-defined roles. Very few cyclists are competing to win the event, including many who could genuinely compete for the top spot. In addition, not all teams are trying to place their top rider as high as possible in the general classification. The sport’s strategies strongly influence general classification order outside of the top rider or three.

The sport is also greatly influenced by sponsors, who are looking for more than just the fastest cyclist to help them sell their wares. While it is probably true that the fastest healthy rider has the best chance of winning notwithstanding corporate sponsors’ preferences, that is where the strong correlations end. Attractiveness clearly factors into which riders sponsors throw money at.

Lastly, performance in cycling is heavily influenced by numerous exogenous hormones. One commonly used hormone, HGH, alters the shape of one’s face in dramatic ways. The physical changes also show a dose response, so the more aggressive the doper, the greater the physical changes will be. More aggressive dopers are also more likely to win, and so what is being selected for here is more likely risk-taking and not natural appearance.

Z March 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm

If there was a popular version of cycling where the slowest cyclist was winner, then women would be attracted to the slowest cyclist. Women are wired to seek out high status males. Right now, fast generally means higher status. It’s why old rich homely guys can get young tail. Money correlates to status in our society.

Cliff March 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm

In the study, the women did not know which were the winning cyclists and which the losing ones. They only saw faces and rated their attractiveness.

Z March 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Well, if I bothered to read the link I would have known that, but I would have posted the same thing. It is an axiom of evolutionary biology that women seek out high status males. Whatever truth you wish to derive from this study cannot contradict that. KLO is probably onto something with the last paragraph, but his second paragraph could be the answer too. Sponsors seek out riders who can sell product much in the same way women seek out high status males. There may be a convergence.

The Other Jim March 9, 2014 at 7:59 pm

You were wise not to read the article. It shows an almost perfectly random data diagram, that just barely slightly shows (if you squint) that the girls picked the faster riders by one-tenth of a human hair.

Science!

And no, women don’t care about fast cyclists, they care about famous and wealthy cyclists. (As it so happens, those tend to be fast.)

Timothy March 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm

In velodrome track racing, it is a disadvantage to start off in the lead, again because of the air resistance. The cyclist in front pushes the air out of the way while their competitor drafts and uses less energy until they try to overtake near the finish line. So the races involve track stands – stand-off tests of endurance where both racers will remain still on their fixed-gear bikes for minutes, which is possible but tiring, trying to force the other guy to go first.

zbicyclist March 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm

+1 for KLO’s first two paragraphs; didn’t know that about HGH.

The scatterplot isn’t overwhelming, and note that there were (at least) 3 dependent variables: attractiveness, masculinity (no effect) and niceness (no effect).

Luckily, this type of study is cheap to do and so it is likely to be replicated soon, and perhaps pass into the nether world of studies that make more impact on the blogosphere than in the accumulated store of scientific knowledge.

Bryan Willman March 9, 2014 at 5:58 pm

AND
It’s a weird sample, the *weakest* rider in the Tour de France is a very strong athlete (be it the weakest man in the men’s tour or the weakest woman in the women’s tour.)

A better study would be to compare the faces of tour athletes with ordinary cyclists and sedentary men of the same age and approximate BMI.

Timothy March 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm

To expand on the team aspect – most effort expended cycling at speed is pushing air out of the way. So the team drafts each other, taking turns leading and pushing through the air. The individual “winner” saves their energy. Then when they want to try and take the lead and win the race, the team starts sprinting ahead and as leaders tire out they drop back like stages of a rocket propelling the “winner” to victory. These guys will then save their energy for the next stage of the race and not try very hard for an individual position.

Josh M March 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm

H&M specializes in disposable fast fashion, and wedding dresses are the ultimate disposable article of clothing. Even a Halloween costume you might try to wear to two different parties.

ummm March 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm
Mark Thorson March 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm

What’s that got to do with Knausgaard?

Brett March 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Nothing. He’s a link spammer.

TMC March 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Well, the title is ‘Assorted links’

Brett March 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I’m going to guess that “fastest cyclist” is probably about something else tied to that: physical attractiveness, the confidence from being a first-place winner, etc.

ed March 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm

#1 – Surely everyone in the Tour de France should be considered a “fast cyclist.” In fact, many of those at the bottom of the final standings are sprinting specialists, who are actually “faster” (but maybe not “stronger”) than the overall winner. Also the overall standings do not align well with status, since most cyclists would prefer to win a stage and come in 100th overall than win nothing and come in 25th overall.

zbicyclist March 9, 2014 at 10:51 pm

A good point. The results for the 2012 TDF can be found here:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/tour-de-france-2012/stage-20/results
Note Mark Cavendish was 142nd out of 153 in the overall General Classification — far down in the standings.

Cavendish also won the final stage. In the 2012 tour, he won 3 of the 20 stages.
Cavendish also won the points competition (green jersey).
At the time, Cavendish was the reigning world champion.
This was his fourth win in the final stage of the TDF.
Cavendish’s team won the first two places in the GC (Wiggins, Froome), and 7 stages overall.

But sprinters tend to have a different body type from climbers, or from time-trial specialists.

sailordave March 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm

it isn’t possible that there could be a pre-historic, evolutionarily-selected difference between top finishers in the Tour de France and bottom finishers in the Tour de France. a given prehistoric tribe of 500-1000 people is likely to only have 1 or 2 endurance cyclists, with most only competitive at the collegiate or national and not international level.

TMC March 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I bet google glass for EMTs would be a better investment.

RR March 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Quite true, but the danger would be that the EMTs could wait more for expert guidance than taking initiative.

Donald Pretari March 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm

” Way back in the Stone Age people with good stamina were less likely to end up as dinner for a sabre-toothed tiger, and they were also better hunters.”

Good to know we’re still selecting for the Stone Age. Still, it does explain a lot.

Marie March 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm

We are still selecting for the Stone Age, biological evolution is very slow.

I’ve heard, though, that you have sprinters and marathoners, physiologically, so I’m not sure why the marathon runner would have an advantage over a sprinter against the tiger.

Maybe the pick up a rock guy would have the best chance?

Marian Kechlibar March 10, 2014 at 3:34 am

For much of the Stone Age, humans were predators rather than prey. Hunters.

And human hunting method is basically purpose + stamina + time, which corresponds to the marathone settings, not explosive speed (sprint).

Unlike big cats, which chase the prospective prey for a few hundred yards and, if not successful, give up to conserve some energy and prevent overheating, archaic humans stalked their prey and pursued it for hours, until it fell from exhaustion. It surely helps that humans can cool their bodies by sweating.

So, a marathone runner would have a huge evolutionary advantage. Given enough spatial orientation (yet another important trait for hunters), a capable marathone runner can definitely chase down a deer.

Claudia March 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm

5. First, nice pairing of the a & b links and creative labeling of b (nowhere does it say to publish the transcripts in real time)

5b. Tim Harford says “The Fed was flying blind” in the financial crisis. To some extent the Fed is always flying if not blind but with blurred vision — though not for a lack of effort. There are more economists at the Fed who practice ‘real time’ economics than anywhere else in the world. And yet, there is only so much that can be discerned about the economy ‘for sure’ at any moment. Go back and read the statements from the FOMC meeting in 2008 or the minutes that were released almost in real time … the transcripts give more details with a five year lag but do not the back gist. Bubbles, turning points, crises, risks are very hard to diagnose in real time. And if you think that problem is past us google weather and Fed 2014 … is the bad data at the start of this year weather or weakness? Many hours have been spent on that question but definitive answers do not pop out of regression models with incomplete data.

I most appreciated Harford’s point about the data and a need for a dashboard. Too many economic models and academic studies use fully revised national income or other data and not enough use real time data and industry indicators. The first data series I watched that signaled trouble in the crisis was consumer sentiment (500 households!) which started falling in 2007 when the rest of the consumer spending data as in GDP still looked okay. It was puzzling … guess which data was right and guess which data got more weight at the time? That one example may be pure coincidence and normally the differences are not that big but in real time. It can take years for the source data for income and consumer spending to get folded into the GDP reports, so yes Stockton was right he had little say about how the last three days had affected the economy. Exactly what would he base his statements on? (Making stuff up in the boardroom is frowned about.) There are more and more daily surveys and indicators but I have yet to see a careful academic study of the data quality or how to use it. Academics are getting papers published now left and right on the crisis and recession (using the revised data) … it was a bit quieter when they might have been useful in real time. There is plenty of work to go around on this task. (To be clear, these are my personal opinion and reflect my very narrow perspective.)

ChrisA March 9, 2014 at 9:51 pm

A committee of wise men and women is never going to be the most effective way of decision making on forward plans for monetary policy (or anything else for that matter). Experts are fallible individually, and collectively subject to all sorts of biases, such as group think, egoism and grandstanding. Not to mention the whole agency and public choice thing. This is one of the strongest findings of psychology, not controversial any more. Te me this is the most powerful part of Scott Sumner’s campaign for NGDP LT. He wants to make it rule based using a market signals (he proposes NGDP futures) to put decision making on autopilot. We need to get to the point where the system is robust enough where the president could appoint his idiot nephew to the Fed and it not make a difference. Basically investors are in the place now where they have to guess what the people in the Fed committee are guessing about what investors are thinking about what the Fed is going to do.

Marie March 9, 2014 at 7:14 pm

#1:

” The relationship was stronger in women who did not use the contraceptive pill than in men, according to the figure on the right”

It’s everywhere now, that pill thing.
Funny that here it seems to be a given that the pill messes up your instincts and selective sense, so that is used to kind of back up the authors’ theory that this is about Darwinian evolution.
We’ve come a long way, baby.

Age of Doubt March 9, 2014 at 8:10 pm

3.) “Research suggesting that offshoring has cut the price of some major imports has not much changed minds”

Because it’s a rare company who passes such savings on to their customers, and even if they did, the net loss of jobs comes at a greater economic cost than whatever nickels and dimes off-shoring might bring to the table.

Mark Thorson March 10, 2014 at 12:05 am

And that rare company should be taken over by Berkshire Hathaway, so that its management can be replaced by managers that are rational. You price goods based on how the market perceives their value, not what it costs to make them, so any increased profits from offshoring rightly belong to the shareholders. The only thing more immoral than giving those profits to customers is giving them to the state.

Alan March 9, 2014 at 8:11 pm

I am lean, even for an ectomorph, average looks, very fast on bike rides longer than about 150 miles. I have no trouble finding female company especially young slim bike riders.

I like it like that :)

BC March 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm

#4. The breakthrough will be when people start buying $99 engagement rings. :)

Zach March 9, 2014 at 11:14 pm

To heap more well-deserved scorn on the cycling study: how long has it been since order of finish reflected a cyclist’s genes? The last cyclist with no doping reputation to win the Tour de France is maybe — maybe — Greg LeMond.

If stone age cavewomen had a good eye for who was microdosing EPO and who was receiving mid-race blood transfusions, they should get in contact with the World Anti-Doping Administration, which hasn’t got a clue.

Alan March 10, 2014 at 1:28 am

Cadel Evans

cthulhu March 11, 2014 at 1:51 am

Maybe the results DO reflect the cyclist’s genes: the winners are the cyclists best adapted to the current generation of PEDs.

stag geciktirici sprey March 12, 2014 at 9:58 am

France kazanmak için hiçbir doping itibarı ile son bisikletçi belki – belki – Greg LeMond. – See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/03/assorted-links-1075.html#sthash.5hEl8H5I.dpuf

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