Assorted links


6. Sounds like the Editor is trying to walk back from rashly saying economics is a fraud. He's describing a to and fro at the Global Health lab. I'm sure Skidelsy's talk was more nuanced and entertaining than can be summarized in a few sentences, I'd love to read a transcript.

I checked it out - Sidelsky was not a speaker. His book was briefly quoted in the article to buttress the author's thesis.

6. I would not necessarily call them anti-scientific, but they certainly are close-minded. I think they should appreciate that one of the key goals of economics is to analyze choices in light of scarcity and competing uses. John Goodman had a post about reading a book on health care economics and seeing very little economic analysis within.

Since economics is not science, a screed against economics is not necessarily anti-scientific. If the guy was claiming physics was full of lies then I'd agree with that description of him. I'm at a loss as to why anyone would link economics and medicine. Who goes to an economist when they have the flu? Economics and medicine strike me two fields with few shared "responsibilities."

As he seems to be discussing what he perceives as a negative impact mainstream economics has had on healthcare policy and delivery, discussing economics in connection with medicine here makes sense.

I guess. It just feels like blaming your accountant for poor sales.

But medicine is a science, and the Lancet routinely pulls a Krugman on anything political. They'll argue to the end, stomping their feet that 2+5 does equal 25.

Medicine is a science? If it is, so is auto repair and plumbing.

MR Community,

This is unrelated, but I feel like you might appreciate this. So I'm teaching myself physics because I never learned it in high school or college, especially electromagnetism and modern physics stuff that you wouldn't learn from studying chemistry. I want to complain about the weirdness of special relativity for a moment.

Now, you know how sometimes there are people who are just the type where they always have to have their way all the time, and for some reason people will run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to accommodate them? Instead of making the person budge, everyone else budges. It's weird.

Well, that's what special relativity is like. Basically you have this paradox in which c is the same in all inertial frames of reference. But that introduces all sorts of paradoxes in a Newtonian universe regarding time, length, etc., and so what happens? Literally all the other variables twist and turn into all these weird contortions to accommodate this one itty bitty quirk of the speed of light. Isn't that weird? I find that very odd. Like you would think the Prime Mover would tell those f*cking photons to fall in line like the rest of the universe and obey the law of additive relative velocities, but no, they don't, so literally EVERYTHING ELSE has to bend to resolve the paradox that would otherwise result. That's so weird!

I know it's not correct to think this way, but why do photons get to have their way while spacetime has to budge. Did spacetime lose a bet or something?

You're right, it is unrelated. And incoherent, to boot.

The speed of light in a vacuum being constant is just one consequence of more fundamental physical truths, not the driver. When you get to GR it should seem a little more natural.

There's nothing special about photons. c is the speed of all massless objects, light's simply the most prominent example. If c did not exist, i.e. there was no "speed limit", then massless objects would travel at infinite speed. If that was the case the simple consequence is that massive objects would have infinite resting energy.

The intuitive fountainhead of special relativity isn't that nothing can travel faster than light. It's that space-time follows a Minkowski metric, not a Euclidean one. All else naturally follows from that simple foundation. If SR seems convoluted it's only because people try to conceptualize it as a bunch of idiosyncratic rules that sit on top of Euclidean space.


J, I'd recommend 'Spacetime Physics' by Wheeler and Taylor. Elementary, good for self-teaching, and it puts the invariant interval in the center where it belongs. This should help make SR make much more sense to you, like Doug said.

Yes. In fact I find nothing in SR or GR to say that $c$ is a speed-limit. Except in this sense: anything moving faster than light would seem very, very weird to use (it's trajectory is spacelike rather than timelike).

I admire Einstein as a science communicator, but I also blame him for a few interpretational errors that have become near orthodoxy because people cargo-culted his explantations.

Your problem is that you're trying to jump directly from basic physics to relativity without understanding the stuff in between. You have to understand that bridging information, or the advanced concepts won't make any sense to you. It's not too difficult to do, but you must do it. A good place to start is right here:

Thanks guys. I figured somewhere along the line I was just not understanding.

Hmm, looks like Time Cube theory will make my "spacetime lost a bet" theory look much better by comparison!

I disagree but interesting reading anyway

Why the heck does Epstein's book cost over $40 USD ??? What more can be said on this subject after Nozick ???

#4: I predict the makers of fake elephant dung coffee will make much more than the sellers of the real thing.

The irony is that civet coffee (the original dung coffee) came from the natives of Indonesia playing a practical joke on Dutch colonists. So it's already fake to begin with. Civet coffee usually performs worse than most premium coffee in blind taste tests. Without a doubt $25/lbs. fresh roasted single-origin coffee from top tier roasters like Stumptown, Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia or Monmouth will blow the $150/lbs "poop coffee" varieties out of the water.

It seems like everything in the foodie world is bravo sierra. Wine is the most obvious example.

Paying more for wine has been shown, I think repeatedly, to improve its perceived taste. Bravo Sierra all the way down.

Every once in a while someone tests wine experts and the results are predictably hilarious. The striking thing is the wine tasters believe their own bravo sierra. They really think they have the ability to discern the fine distinctions in wine. But, we're all gullible. One of my favorite Penn & Teller bits was when they setup a table at a farmer's market offering fake organic food. Even when people were told of the deception, they held onto their beliefs.

In coffee the biggest measurable impact on taste is staleness. Blind taste tests does almost always result in fresher coffee coming out on top. Fresh roasted (past three weeks), fresh ground (right before brewing) and fresh brewed (in the past half hour) will make a significant in any blind test. The biggest problem with the major brands is that they only put a meaningless expiration date. Most of the bags of coffee sold at the grocery store are two months or older.

Beyond that the other problem with most major brand coffee is that it's roasted too dark. In blind taste tests a lighter city roasts almost always beats a dark french roast. That's because the latter is much more bitter. A major retailer like Starbucks buys coffee in such huge quantity that it has to blend tons of different lots that all taste much different. So they have to roast very dark to standardize the product, the more you roast the bean the more the flavor comes from the roast not the bean.

Also I'd say in beer blind taste tests tend to be much more consistent in line with critics ratings. Wine's kind of messed up because it's weighed down too much by tradition and old names that garner differential respect. Since beer as a craft gourmet beverage is only a couple of decades old, there's less BS in the beer world. For example in Consumer Reports did a blind taste test of IPAs and the 99 BeerAdvocate rated Stone IPA came out on top.

The problem with beer isn't that you can't tell the difference between A & B, it's that everyone decided that A is better because it's 15% alcohol and so bitter it'll bring tears to your eyes. Beer connoisseurship has muted into some sort of macho contest.

Fair enough point. There was actually a really good post on reddit several months ago about how beer critics prefer very hoppy beers because they typically tend to taste a large number in a short period of time. They're sense of taste gets exhausted and the beers that stand out tend to be the strongest.


It's also true by age I think. The older drinkers & the heavier drinkers tend to prefer the hoppier brews. I think it is indeed about taste bud saturation. You start mild but then the more you drink you must move to the dark side to still get your satiation.

Similar effect for Cheese too I think. No one starts out liking the sharp, strong, ammoniacal cheeses. It's a slow response to getting bored by the milder stuff.

Everything though? I admit there is a high degree of charlatanism in matters of food, wine, art etc. but this doesn't rule out the possibility of true connoisseurship, does it?

As far as wine, I recall one Robert Parker, for example. Or is he just bravo sierra too?

Yes, actually

"Parker told the author that he tastes 10,000 wines a year and 'remembers every wine he has tasted over the past thirty-two years and, within a few points, every score he has given as well.' Yet, in a public blind tasting of fifteen top wines from Bordeaux 2005—which he has called "the greatest vintage of my lifetime"—Parker could not correctly identify any of the wines, confusing left bank wines for right several times."

Only when you start getting to the extremes. For instance the coffee shops that Doug mentioned are by far top quality, and will beat Starbucks(at least what you get at the stores is stale), unless you want an oddly specific taste profile. And like wine, if you pay $16 pound for coffee or $16 dollars a bottle of wine, anything above that is pretty much free from defects, and you are paying for taste, but it's not really clearly better. When a coffee shop has a coffee that is $30 or more a pound, it's about being a special coffee, not necessarily better. Often those coffees stand out from the 100 or 1000 they cupped, but they aren't really more enjoyable to a consumer or even better quality than the $16 a pound coffee.
Wines price gouging is even less related though, and much more reputation and status. Your $16 buck wine is likely better tasting than some run of the mill jug wine, but not really worse than $160 bottle wine.


Tyler writes: "The editor of Lancet is anti-scientific and full of mood affiliation"

He provides no argument or evidence.

Some one here may be anti-scientific and full of mood affiliation, but it may not be cited author.

The evidence was at the link.

This link is hardly evidence. Economics is not a science, most of it is nothing more than ideological arguments dressed up with a lot of mathematics.

Economics is not a science, most of it is nothing more than ideological arguments dressed up with a lot of mathematics

As opposed to the rest of the "social sciences," which are mostly composed of ideological arguments without any mathematics.

I am four poop coffee and clitoraid because 2+2 = for.

Ok, here is the evidence:

"Pick up any economics textbook, and you
will see the priority given to markets and efficiency, price
and utility, profit and competition. These words have
chilling effects on our quest for better health."

How is this anything other than anti-scientific mood affiliation? It wrongly equates theories with the way things work with a moral imperative about what one should value. It also is a seeming objection to the topic of study itself, as if it is wrong to have a discipline whose goal is to study markets, unless you spend half your time saying "Yeah, but people matter, too." The same objection could be leveled at any discipline that is not "people" focused (with his definition of what that is): "physics needs to be challenged because it is focused on particles, when people are really the thing that we should care about", etc. But can you imagine such a criticism leveled at any hard scientific discipline? No. The reason is simply mood affiliation for political reasons. He is conflating a group of people with certain political convictions with a field of study, when the two are not really equivalent.

Whether or not you think economics is a real science has nothing to do with this line of argument. Horton's approach is the thing being called unscientific.

Anytime anyone writes an op-ed they're suddenly anti-scientific and full of mood affiliation?

Most doctors are socialists, especially the ones in the EU, so it comes as no surprise they are hostile to economists. They also are hostile to patents, as UK sensationalist "Ben Goldacre, MD" is. Thus doctors don't believe in dual tier pricing (so that rich countries pay more for drugs than poor ones--neither does the US Sup. Ct btw), nor do doctors believe in patents, and often talk about a 'fair price' for patented drugs.

Yet doctors want to get paid well...go figure.

It's quite simple, Doctors in the UK get paid by the state, so they argue for a strong state and against markets.

John Cassidy writes, after raising serious questions about Piketty's arguments:

"But Piketty has written a book that nobody interested in a defining issue of our era can afford to ignore. "

There have been a couple of earlier threads about Piketty, all of which have pretty much been ignored by the commentators here. Apparently this one will be ignored as well.

As my friends say: "I'll be dead before any of that will matter to me"

I guess it's a big club.

I've read about the Piketty book a fair amount, and it's hard to fault his basic thesis about inequality being the result of return to capital being higher than economic growth rates, and that the 1945-1973 period was the aberration not the rule for that. But I'm not sure his prescription to fix things works, and I'm sure it's impossible to implement anyway (global wealth taxes, much higher income taxes). I'm curious what the folks here think of his work, and if it really matters, and if so is there anything to be done?

"it’s hard to fault his basic thesis about inequality being the result of return to capital being higher than economic growth rates" - actually, I find it very easy to fault his argument: in one of the graph he shows the rate of return on capital and the growth rate of the economy from Roman times to present. And the return on capital was higher than the growth rate all the way through the Middle Ages. Was Roman empire really much more egalitarian than the Middle Ages?
It is also evident that he doesn't fancy the American society very much. But the US is a great example that shows that his explanation of capital accumulation as the cause of inequality doesn't work: the richest people in the US today are entrepreneurs, not those who inherited the wealth. I would rather trust in the saying: "from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations."

I hope this isn't off topic, but when I read the review of Piketty's book I couldn't help thinking about a recent article in the New York Times or the Washington Post comparing Fairfax County in Virginia and McDowell County in Kentucky. Fairfax is rich. Its population enjoys good health, excellent public education, and a sense of well being. McDowell is the exact opposite. A little research shows that Fairfax is liberal politically and McDowell is conservative. This is a paradox — to me, at least — and if I could understand it I'd be a lot closer than I am now to understanding current attitudes in the US to how our wealth is distributed.

Basically because the political labels 'liberal' and 'conservative' are primarily social signifiers and mood affiliation. Rural folks are conservative, urban/near-urban folks tend to be liberal. And urban folks are wealthier than rural, which = better health and generally better 'sense(s) of well-being'

On point 3, the proper translation should be "Mercados de todo" or "mercados para todo"

Minor quibble, but...

...but if you are going to put up links in Spanish, make a special effort to get your Spanish right, even on notoriously confusing (for English speakers) points like "por/para". Oh, and stop calling Galicia "Gallego".

Piketty ignores the fact that state intervention divides society into two groups, productive net taxpayers and parasitic net tax consumers, of which he is one. The reason that six of the wealthiest counties in the US surround Washington Damn City is because of the high booty stolen from tax "payers" by federal and presumably state tax consuming crookeaucrats.
I haven't read Epstein's book, but John McGinnis's review in the Wall Street Journal today claims that Epstein thinks rights were created by the constitution. They existed before it was imposed upon America by the criminals known as the "framers."

I always buy and enjoy Richard Epstein's Books, and this one is no exception. But I also know that I'll refer back to Robert Dawidoff's book "The Education of John Randolph" to remind myself that Randolph's View (and others like it) had lost before it ever really had a chance to begin. There's nothing to go back to. Randolph knew this. Randolph is on my Top Ten Americans List, just for reference, and, although his Main Views were not accepted, many of his salient comments and criticisms have become ingrained in our discourse even if he isn't remembered as a champion of them.

Re #2, I find it disappointing that the BBC makes it all the way through that article, repeating multiple times unsubstantiated allegations against shadowy Catholics, without noting that BF is majority Muslim, and FGM is a predominantly Muslim activity. Nor is there any informed analysis about BF politics. If there is political opposition in BF to fighting FGM, the source is not the Catholic Church.

s a negative side to the rise in popularity of digital content,
and that. Instant availability is precisely what is triggering ebook piracy too.

The Vi - O comes pre set with the most widely used cellular devices, which includes Blackberry, i - Pod, i -
Phone amongst others.

As such, it shouldn't be too difficult to spend some time constructing a database of tables similar to what is suggested at where
they have got provided a sample database spec to be used in a hotel reservation application.
Just must be link is on Piratebay does not always mean that the users
are downloading it, and therefore, the flawed data.

Trading invites many different sites is especially frowned upon in
the exclusive Bit - Torrent community mainly because it allows anti-piracy
groups to infiltrate private trackers with less effort.

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