Assorted links


The Adam Gurri thought piece on stagnation was very interesting. Thanks for linking.

Am I the only one who finds Ariely's methods a bit sloppy?

Dan Ariely sounds like he's writing an Ask Mary column

Also, what are we supposed to take away from the Regnerus controversy article? It's pretty clear his methodology was pretty crap - these weren't minor quibbles. Are you posting this as an ironic "ah yes, it's politicized but it's the defenders that are trying to politicize it"?

#4: Hansonian mode on......From the text I get that Mark Regnerus IS NOT one of the sacred cows of sociology. He's not even a full time professor. Insignificant paper from little guy is not gonna change public policy. But attacking him shows that I support an idea, that I am part of some "group", that I deserve public recognition for being a good-doer.

Hansonian mode off........About the article, it is comparing apples with oranges. Quoting the article: "For this particular study, I compare outcomes across eight different types of family-of-origin structure and/or experience.

1.IBF: Lived in intact biological family (with mother and father) from 0 to 18, and parents are still married at present (N = 919).
2.LM: R reported R’s mother had a same-sex romantic (lesbian) relationship with a woman, regardless of any other household transitions (N = 163).
3.GF: R reported R’s father had a same-sex romantic (gay) relationship with a man, regardless of any other household transitions (N = 73).
4.Adopted: R was adopted by one or two strangers at birth or before age 2 (N = 101).
5.Divorced later or had joint custody: R reported living with biological mother and father from birth to age 18, but parents are not married at present (N = 116).
6.Stepfamily: Biological parents were either never married or else divorced, and R’s primary custodial parent was married to someone else before R turned 18 (N = 394).
7.Single parent: Biological parents were either never married or else divorced, and R’s primary custodial parent did not marry (or remarry) before R turned 18 (N = 816).
8.All others: Includes all other family structure/event combinations, such as respondents with a deceased parent (N = 406)."

The group "lived in intact GAY family and parents are still married at present" was not considered in this study. The only group that considers kids from lifelong stable relationship is group 1. And group 1 is heterosexuals-only. Wonder now where the conclusions came from?

#4 mark regnerus article:

Regnerus claims Larry Craig's children are the children of a same sex partnerships. This seems to be sufficiently sloppy work to reduce your chances of future research.

Prof Cowen -- you seem to be falling into a black hole of confirmation bias. You have several incorrect graphs you have posted recently that have not been retracted and you seem to just point to things that seem agree with your already held positions.

You earlier today cited a segment of a blog post by Scott Sumner saying you agree with it when he specifically agreed with a point you made. What does that add?

Tyler Cowen: Scott Sumner: I think Cowen is right.


No flaw in the graphs, they are presented as additional information of relevance. Regnerus I disagree with, in fact.

If one was studying the intersection of same sex partnerships and children, why wouldn't you include Larry Craig's kids?

Gay marriage in Canada dates from 2005. And the numbers of marriages are not very large, even if you include those who come from the US into Ontario to marry. Slice off the even smaller group that have children in that relationship and you get a statistically insignificant number; you are into case study numbers.

From what I understand, the study shows that the pattern of same sex relationships and children usually has been disruptive and damaging to the children, somewhat akin to a middle age guy with kids running off with the secretary. Messes up the kids when what they need is a stable family structure. It wouldn't be a surprising finding, I should think. There aren't many other situations, especially if you are looking for statistically significant numbers, where kids and gay relationships exist. Or if they are, they are outnumbered by the Larry Craig's of the world.

Maybe in 2030 there may be a few kids raised in Canada under the new marriage regime, and some information could be gathered.

I thought one of the arguments for same sex marriage is that it provides a societal/state sanctioned path for gays which would tend to encourage long term relationships, which would be healthier for the adults involved and also potentially for any children involved. Again, I'm not surprised that under the current situation a study didn't find difficulties.

The study also found, I understand, that unstable heterosexual relationships messed up the kids as well.

Mr. Smith would have done Mr. Regnerus more a service if, instead of attacking Mr. Regnerus's critics for being politicized, he had said, "Critics have slammed the methodology for being flawed because of A, B & C. Actually, the methodology was not flawed because of X, Y & Z."

Why engage in actual analysis when culture war is so much fun?

The validity of the data and methodology was besides the point of the article. I've only now found about this minor controversy and I already see problems with Regnerus' methodology, but I still agree with Smith's article.

"The validity of the data and methodology was besides the point of the article."

And that's the problem with the article.

And that’s the problem with the article.

No, that's the problem with the criticism. The criticism is either ad hominem or simply rejecting a conclusion they don't like.

One can find fault in practically any methodology. Egregious errors in modeling might still produce estimators that are unbiased and consistent. If estimators are biased, occasionally you can discern the direction of bias in a misspecified model. axa attempts to argue from just such an angle.

That one can find fault in practically any methodology does not mean that all faulty methodologies are equal, and that sometimes certain faults in methodology are pernicious.

Whether faults are blameworthy depends upon intention, and analysis of intention requires ad hominem analysis.

"Rejecting a conclusion one doesn't like" has nothing to do with the criticisms. The conclusion is rejected because it deceptive and manipulative. Given the data Regnerus accumulated, any number of conclusions and findings could have been offered. He opened up with this study. The choice deserves scrutiny.

"One can find fault in practically any methodology. Egregious errors in modeling might still produce estimators that are unbiased and consistent. If estimators are biased, occasionally you can discern the direction of bias in a misspecified model. axa attempts to argue from just such an angle."

This makes me think that you have not read Regnerus' paper. This isn't a modeling error; it's an error in the basic design of the paper. The valid null hypothesis is that ceteris paribus children raised by same sex couples have outcomes that are not statistically significant from children raised by heterosexual couples. Regnerus' paper instead compares intact heterosexual couples to broken homes that were caused by a gay parent... well, being gay. And then he concludes that it's the being gay that causes the harm.

The problem arises when people only find methodological problems in the studies they disagree with and not in the studies they agree with. Therefore studies in controversial social science topics are held to a much higher degree of scrutiny than the vast majority of studies in the same area. I would have preferred Smith to seriously address some of the methodological criticisms that Regnerus’ received, but that wasn't the point of his article.

It is clear that methodology was not the point of Mr. Smith's piece. However, by attacking the critics of the Regnerus study on the basis of their politics, it makes me think that the critics are probably right. After all, if the critics were so obviously wrong in their attacks on the methodology, why would it be necessary to attack their politics, instead of their criticism of the methodology? In fact, if your argument is that the Regnerus study is only being attacking for political reasons, wouldn't the strongest evidence in support of that argument be that Regnerus study is not methodologically flawed as claimed by its critics?

The subject matter of Regnerus' paper make it a given that he will be attacked by one side or the other, no matter what the conclusion, no matter how sound his research.

Well, no... he would not be attacked if he came up with the opposite conclusion because that is the one his peers want...

No, he just would have been attacked (or ignored) by a separate set of peers - evangelicals and NOM &etc.

What matters here are the soundness of the attacks, not that there are attacks. And the attacks are sound.

The attacks are coming from GLBT groups, not his peers.

Actually, plenty of sociologists and other trained social scientists have been critical of his methodology.

I think that's criticism, not an attack.

Technological progress slowed down long before Gurri thinks it does. The move from an IBM XT to an iPad is small compared to the move from a mechanical calculator to an IBM XT. The last major technological development was the introduction of microprocessors around 1970 and while that was significant it was not nearly as significant as the steam engine, the railroad, the Bessemer process, the internal combustion engine, the alternating current motor, the vacuum tube, the computer or the transistor. The internet is important but is not as world changing as the telegraph or the telephone. My material life now is not that different from what it was 40 years ago.

There are three major impediments to progress (aside from the fact that the low hanging fruit has been picked):
1) the patent system makes digital innovation very difficult (the heyday of software progress was before software became patentable) - look at the death match between Apple and Samsung;
2) government funded research and research by the big corporate monopolies and quasi monopolies (IBM, AT&T and Xerox) is all significantly less than it was - the Internet and modern microprocessors both owe their existence to DARPA projects.
3) product life cycles are so short and so fickle that the payoff from a technical innovation has to be very high (think of all the digital high flyers who have come and gone in the last twenty five years).

Point 3 arguably contradicts the first two.

I doubt that the reason the supersonic jet failed was noise. Rather the real problem was that it was so expensive that the target audience was very small.

Other commercial jets were also too noise. So they corrected the problem and reduced the noise to acceptable levels.

But the real reason big jets flying at 500-600 MPH worked was that it was cheap. They could fly several hundred people across the Atlantic in six hours for several hundred dollars each, while the supersonic jet made the trip in four hours but at a cost of several thousand dollars and only carried a handful of passengers in rather cramped seating.

The supersonic jet only competed with passengers willing to pay to fly first class, not the ones willing to fly coach.

Yes, but only 25% of first class passengers actually pay for it.


That 25% might make the difference between a profitable and an unprofitable flight.

True, but that left the supersonic guys in a difficult situation. They needed a much higher conversion rate.

I also wonder what role increases in the amount of time one must dedicate to getting to the gate and from the gate to one's final destination play in the failure of supersonic travel. If it takes 3 hours in addition to the time spent in the air to get to and from your destination, supersonic travel does not really open up the life-atlering "breakfast in London, lunch in New York, dinner in Paris" opportunities that were promised. If, instead, you simply save 3.5 hours while still losing most of your day while in transit, supersonic travel is largely an expensive novelty.

The same goes for the supposed "failure" of not building a tower twice as tall as the Burj Khalifa - such a thing would not be profitable!

And yet we are supposed to believe that the "risk aversion" that characterizes this period of history is brought on by some other variable.

The African School of Economics will either:

a) Give its students a good enough education that they can get more lucrative careers in America or Europe than they can in Africa, and therefore not really help with the development of Africa, or

b) Not give its students a good enough education to allow them to get more lucrative careers in America or Europe than in Africa, and therefore they will not be sufficiently competent to help with the development of Africa.

That's one possibility, but not the only one. The Catholic University of Chile sent a lot of students to the U. of Chicago who then came back and implemented successful economic reforms in Chile.

So the ungated version of Indonesians wanted to become gated versions by immigrating to Australian jails? Do I have that right?


Thanks for posting the Regnerus article. I found the following to be the big idea...

"Many sociologists view higher education as the perfect gig, a way to be paid to engage in "consciousness raising" through teaching, research, and publishing—at the expense of taxpayers, donors, and tuition-paying parents, many of whom thoughtfully believe that what those sociologists are pushing is wrong.

I frankly this phenomenon goes way beyond sociologists - I have run head on into this when trying to discuss health care issues with health care academics and I see Krugman doing this sort of thing in almost everyone of his columns.

And while many other economists are more concerned with advancing a specific agenda than "enlightenment" I have found MR to be a nice place to learn and have my gray matter stimulated with little "preaching".

As for the "controversy" - my advice to Regenerus BEFORE starting out to research this topic would have been you cannot possibly account for all of the independent variables in a way that will make any outcome compelling - to either side...

Another case of KDS. Toffler should write a book about it.

1) In which we are linked to an explanation of current negative economic trends whereby innovators have gone Galt.

So why exactly isn't there somewhere for the very rich to make full use of their resistance technologies? Have they not saved up enough to be able to afford to throw off their shackles and drive flying cars?

Again, maybe I am missing something, but it seems an awful lot like "Innovation Islanders" either don't see a profit to be made in the selling of flying cars, or there is some other explanation for their absence not related to feelings of persecution.

Tyler: Your link about Immigration to Australia is mislabelled. It is not about "Indonesians migrating". Rather, they are sojourning in gaol/jail. As the article says, "they can earn up to $20 per day, making them wealthy beyond comparison **upon their return to their villages after their sentence is served**."
The immigration is by **Middle Easterners and Sri Lankans**.

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