Assorted links

1. Is on-line dating a science?

2. Living the arbitrage. and more here.

3. Which UK students have benefited the most from tuition fee revenue?  And Pinker on lead and crime (pdf).

4. The value of Scrabble tiles as determined by auction, and more here.

5. Apply for Mercatus Master’s fellowships here.

6. How much of an advance would open access journals be?  Excellent FT piece by John Gapper.  And Orin Kerr on the Aaron Swartz case.


RE: lead and crime.

People keep doing triple back flips through hoops of fire to show that the crime rate has declined for some other reason than the quintupling of the incarceration rate.

That's probably because the trend in crime rates has been global, while the trend in incarceration has not.

I dont that hes doing triple back flips exactly. He makes valid points. Time lagging does have a tendency to make correlation appear out of nowhere. My first reaction seeing those graphs was that they were *too* perfect. It'd be interesting to see some demographic modelling to show what the curve *should* look like.

Also, hes not ruling out the hypothesis, just that its not a slam dunk.

"It’s an intriguing hypothesis that deserves to be taken seriously and studied further."

Exactly. Pinker goes on to say that lead exposure should have measurable effects on "IQ, school achievement, impulsiveness, childhood aggressiveness, lack of conscientiousness".

That's an important point because the lead phaseout was predicted to yield a substantial boost in urban IQs which apparently did not occur.

The excellent FT piece on "open access" is trapped behind a paywall. :P

That's OK, I don't need to read it. Any time anyone gets anything they didn't pay for, you know evil is stalking the world.

There's no way all 96 women lied their height down to under 5'3". I suspect her search query was set incorrectly to limit women by height. Even a cursory consideration of the bell curve of female height makes that obviously ludicrous.

Also, she fails to mention if she adjusted for age in discerning the effect of women's "high-profile careers" on male attraction. Of course, it's more self-serving for her (then a 30 year old woman) and her female readership to believe that men are "intimidate[d]" by female career achievement rather than attracted to female youth.

I could easily believe that men on dating sites are both attracted to female youth and that they are turned off by signs of female careerism. I don't think being turned off by female careerism has anything to do with intimidation. I think it has a lot to do with what having a relationship with a person aspiring to a law partnership is like, and the differences in what men and women want from a significant other.

1. I never met a woman in my life who wanted to be shorter. Every short woman I know wishes she were taller. I agree that there is something anomalous about her height findings.

I also agree that the comment on career minded women is self-serving. Men aren't intimidated by what a woman does for work. We just don't give a rat's ass. We want to know that they are fun and not stuffy.

As for "easy going" and "laid back" and "work hard, play hard," we have seen that a thousand times. Those women and the men who find them popular are airheads.

When I was dating online, the quality of women I met in person was remarkable - physicians, accountants, business owners - all too busy for the typical scene. Then again, I had my experience in the nascent online dating market so things might have changed.

What I find most interesting about this author's tale is that her original profile and her subsequent research and this article represent her authentic self. Her fake persona may have attracted Brian's attention, but it wouldn't have survived the first date unless she's been faking it ever since. In other words, she got lucky.

#1: "Because men lie about their height, too." Everyone knows that 6'4" = 6'2" whatever the mathematicians claim.

My husband, who is 5'11.5" but rounds up, swears up and down women are biased against men under 6'. My best friend is exactly the same height as my husband (we've had them back to back) but she rounds down. If you compare their posture (he stands perfectly straight, shoulders back all the time while she drops a hip) it definitely supports that men want to be taller and women shorter.

I would guess that women tend to round toward the mean of 5'5" or so, whereas men "round" up (sometimes by more than an inch). I definitely suspect my shorter female friends of rounding up as well on their heights.

Google searching "manlet height chart" captures the phenomenon of male height pretty well.

Men don't want to be taller. Men want to be attractive, and women find taller men attractive. If women preferred short men, men would round down instead.

"Men want to be attractive, and women find taller men attractive." Therefore men DO want to be taller. QED.

The fact that men want to be tall for an underlying reason, rather than valuing tallness for its own sake, is irrelevant.

Men don't want to be shorter than women. 5'3" is far under where you'd be expecting women to be lying to duck potential men, even ignoring that most of them wouldn't want a guy who was 5'6"

As a male of somewhat diminutive statute, I have never had a problems with woman who were taller than me. It's the reverse: women don't like men shorter than them.

Isn't 2 a parable about the path dependence of marginal productivity? If the dude was getting paid, say $150,000, his marginal productivity before the discovery was $125,000; after the discovery, 0 (if his employer has any sense).

1. What a surprise, a DTN discovers that online dating sites are full of WJLs instead of NJLs.


Damned it I know, this post is now the top Google result combining those two acronyms.

The enterprising guy in 2 should clearly be promoted to managing programmers.

Except for the part where he compromised his company's security and probably violated non-disclosure agreements that are pretty common. Managers have to do more than just identify programming talent.

"...and boy that's just a straight shooter with upper management written all over him."

Heh. Yet there is a germ of truth here. The ability to recruit people to manage your workload (and thereby leverage yourself into bigger and better things, which this guy did not do, obviously) is crucial for successfully navigating a career, particularly in a large organization. I work in a technical field, and the inability of 'doers' to delegate work becomes a barrier to career advancement surprisingly often

Yes, we all love to hate the office politicians and operators, those who seem preternaturally gifted at delegating all work away from themselves, but the truth is more complicated than the Lumberg caricatures.

Gil, I'll make sure you get another copy of that memo.

#2: That's kind of like working for the government, except take out the whole "contracting" part.

And getting fired part.

I think the dating author is a moron. She states her dating goals as trying to find the one, right person then takes a strategy of maximizing interest in her by lying. I found my wife the old fashion way, but if I ever date again with the purpose of finding another wife, I'd tell the cold hard truth about myself.

Doesn't say she lied (well, other than the part where she pretended to be a man). There is no one platonically correct way to describe yourself, and some completely true ways of doing so are much better than others, in terms of how desirable they make you appear.

She intimated that her revised profile was a load of shallow garbage instead of her authentic self. She needed editing, not a re-write.

Brian apparently liked who she really was, and I doubt 900 words would have been a turn off.

Do you think she is less verbose in person?

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

I agree a sad article (not tragic like 6b, but sad nonetheless). I am not bemoaning the results of her 'study.' No real shockers there (absorbed all that over the years of reading women's magazines and living life). What I found disturbing is her decision to create fake male personas in an online dating site for her own personal 'research.' Almost all my research is with survey data. I write questions (working on some good ones now) for individuals and I am careful (and a human subject review panel double checks) to never manipulate, insult or otherwise abuse research participants. The most precious resource we have is our time and a researcher should never steal someone else's time. I had already read enough to know that I will never post an online dating profile, but articles like this make me question the whole social endeavor online. Online requires more tolerance (as privacy is out the window) but it also requires more respect (as reality is easy to distort). I am not sure we are up to it, but I am happy she found her soul mate.

The last place you should ever look for advice on how to catch a quality man is a women's magazine.

Hint: Ask a man...a heterosexual man.

Men say what they think. Women tell you what you want to hear.

Willitts, I read women's magazines for fun, not for personal research. I already got my new Marie Claire waiting for me after this forecast is done. Men are generally not that complicated...nonverbal cues actually convey most preferences pretty well. Asking (or listening to unsolicited comments) is usually overkill.

Claudia -

There are two approaches to buying and selling: product-oriented and market-oriented. In a product-oriented approach, you say, "This is what I have. Do you want to buy it?" In a market-oriented approach, you determine what the buyer wants to buy, and then tailor the product to the customer. The woman in question took the latter approach, at least with respect to messaging. And it seemed to work. So I think there is great merit to her efforts.

This product versus market orientation is something which is lacking in the education of economists. I see time and again that many, particularly young, economists are simply unable to identify interesting thesis topics. It's because they are not taught problem identification. This is, in fact, a skill and not all that different from the technique in the online dating story above. I could do a nice lecture on it.

Steven, I agree that presentation matters in all aspects of life including online dating. I had no problem with the tweaking of her profile....put your best foot forward. I have a huge problem with her impersonating men online looking for dates. She deceived (for her own gain) the women who thought those fake profiles were legitimate suitors. Marketing good, fraud bad. (Actually applies to economics research too, some of it is packaged too well IMHO.) Oh yes, and buyer beware.

very interesting comment.

in light of the WSJ piece, i find te'o's story much more plausible.

4. Their first finding is wrong. The bid price of a letter will ALWAYS be at least as large as the face value of the letter because each letter contributes to the value of the other letters. The whole is worth more than the sum of its parts.

On its face, that doesn't seem true. The word RHYTHM is worth exactly the sum of its tiles. However, the tiles have NO VALUE unless they are played, and so the bid price for a Y will be at least the tile value of a Y and at most the total value of RHYTHM minus the value of any words you could expect to make on the next vowel, more or less.

Despite my correction, I think they are on to something. The auction should more correctly value common letter combinations such as TH, ST, and NG. Vowels would would go up in value a lot, is my guess.

It would be interesting to see how auction prices are discounted by the likelihood of giving an opponent something to play off your word.

Another interesting aspect is that tiles whose face values are overpriced relative to word value likely not sell for less than the face value. The bidding would have to start at 1 and there wouldn't be much room to see if there is a correction in value. A solution might be to allow bidding in tenths of a point.

Rummy 500 has an implicit bidding system in that you draw whatever you think you can use net of cards you are likely to get caught with if the other player goes out.

I think bidding scrabble would be fun, but the game would probably last a lit longer.

You haven't gone nearly far enough. Players could set a price on words that their opponent puts down that allows the first player to build on. Trade letters. Mortgage letters. Set up collateralised debt obligations. Oh, economists are just so much FUN to be around.

"The bid price of a letter will ALWAYS be at least as large as the face value"

This is not true. The trivial example of this is the end-game situation: each player has to subtract the face value of any letters held when the game ends. A high-value letter such as Q may be unplayable in a late game board. Or player X may have a seven-letter word and be about to go out. Other players realize this and therefore don't want to take on a high-value letter.

I think there are also more general cases when a letter would be worth less than its face value. A letter's value can't considered in isolation; it is the expected added point value in comparison to another, randomly-selected letter that determines the value. A "V" may be worth four points, but when I look at the board I see that I could only make a ten-point word if I get the V. I expect to do much better than that with a letter selected at random; therefore the "V" has a negative value to me and I don't bid on it at all.

Tyler, as a Fourth Amendment scholar, Orin Kerr is pretty damn good. But his commentary on the Swartz case is uninformed. His analysis ignores (probably because Kerr had not read the story) the fact that Swartz's defense lawyers informed the US Attorney's office that he was suicidal. The callous response of the US Attorney's Office? Let him go to jail; he'll be safe in there.

Please go sign the White House petitions to have Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann removed.

Is being "suicidal" typically a get out of jail free card? If so, I'll remember to give it a try the next time I'm up on Federal wire fraud charges.

The main argument I take from the FT piece is (paraphrasing) "with more data, there's more stuff to sort through". This argument could be made about anything, yet we usually think "big data" is good.

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