Friday assorted links


Thought it was a link to a story about small musical instruments. :-)

"Harvard may have the biggest drum, but Yale has the biggest organ!"

#4 No. The leading horse is white...

Wow, Noah gets through the Berkeley faculty without mentioning Oliver Williamson.

Guess he has noahopinion about Williamson. Sad but expected.

Williamson is at the Haas School of Business, not the Department of Economics. Noah is careful to note, "This list is far from complete, and I don't want this post to turn into an extended advertisement for the department. And I should point out that in addition to its econ department, Berkeley has one of the country's top business schools, which boasts many star economists such as Nicolae Garleanu and Terry Odean."

2- From memory, there is actually a fair amount of literature on music and personality, some of it moving past territory I would label "speculative" - although admittedly most of personality is a bit nebulous, particularly when you get outside of Big 5 - the personality variables themselves aren't likely to hold up to criticism.

Separating this from demographic and peer group effects is difficult.

Subjectively and based on very small sample sizes, my experience is that when a person has a demographically anomalous preference - an early 30s woman who likes trance and house music, a man in his late 40s still listening to Metallica, a teenager who likes jazz, an old man who likes punk rock - then the preference is actually a fairly strong signal about at least a feature of personality.

I think mid to late 40s is right in Metallica's wheelhouse. Their first major label release was in '84. Someone who was 18 at the time would be 49 now.

In fact, I think all of Ben's "anomalous" preferences are actually about right for their age. With the possible exception of jazz which is similar to an interest in classical music - it's too old to have a demographic age.

If you saw the Sex Pistols in their prime, you were probably born in the 50s. Jeremy Clarkson is their demographic.

I agree - early 30s might be a *little* older than average for trance/house, but certainly within an SD of the mean.

My theory of music is that it stops for all of us sometime between the ages of 18 and 22. So I am going to peg Ben's age as 35, meaning that in his mind, musically, it's still 2000. Trance/house is a new genre that only under 20 ravers listen to. The average Metallica fan is a 30 year old journeyman carpenter with long hair and a pack of Marlboros rolled up in his shirtsleeve. Sex Pistols fans have yet to develop grey hair. Etc.

"Sex Pistols fans have yet to develop grey hair."

Mine is pretty close to white.

My theory of music is that it stops for all of us sometime between the ages of 18 and 22.

There's a lot to this. In my late 20s/early 30s I became intensely interested in avantgarde jazz, but now that I am in my 50s I mostly listen to the rock music of my college years and a small number of new bands that imitate it.

Yes, it sometimes hits me how long Metallica has been around when I think I first went to see them when they were still an opening act...about 30 years ago.

"Those who are type E ... preferred ... R&B/soul, adult contemporary, soft rock genres ... compared to type S ... who preferred ... punk, heavy metal, and hard rock" Not all of us would classify those heaps of steaming ordure as music.

You loveable old crank. Tell us what you think of the clothes that kids are wearing.

The kids are still wearing their ballcaps backwards, just like their dads did. A truly idiotic fashion statement spans generations, something like wigs in the eighteenth century.

Wearing a hat backwards is perfectly functional, baseball catchers do it so they can fit their safety mask, same with my safety goggles when I'm working on my tractor. It's also a common practice for shadetree mechanics when working in an engine bay. Now you might not spend much time working in the sun or partaking in these past times but the fashion did come from a utility function.

I think this paper is on to something with its division between Empathetic and Systematizing (i.e., Asperpergery) personalities in terms of musical tastes. Still, the researchers would get stronger correlations on personality and music if they included IQ as a factor as well. As Chris Brand has pointed out, this is a common oversight in personality research.

Linda Gottfredson has pointed out that one of the better shortcuts for estimating IQ is that if somebody tells you which classical composers they like. People who have opinions on one classical composer versus another likely have three digit IQs. (In contrast, convenience stores that want to keep juvenile delinquents from hanging around out front have discovered that blaring classical music on their outside speakers drives off the lowbrow element.)

Bach is the most enduring example of this correlation. (Bach famously appeals to mathematicians and physicists.)

But in the 1970s The Ramones were dumb music for smart people. Nowadays, everybody gets The Ramones, but back then appreciation for The Ramones was fairly closely correlated with IQ.

In general, it would be interesting to redo this type of study just on people who could pass a test of knowledge of European orchestral music. Obviously, this would leave out 90+% of respondents, but it would be interesting to see if the obvious stereotypes (e.g., Beethoven appeals to more masculine and younger fans that does Mozart) hold up, as well as more idiosyncratic opinions (e.g., Camille Paglia has argued that Debussy is _the_ composer for gay men).

For example, there are people who fly around the world to attend performances of Wagner's Ring cycle. I'd like to know what traits they tend to have in common. (One, of course, would be a strong appreciation for musical skill. Mark Twain famously said that Wagner's music is better than it sounds, which is usually taken as a put down of Wagner. But when you consider that Twain's son-in-law went on to be conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, it sounds more like Twain admitting he lost a long-running argument with an outstanding musician.)

(5.) Noah writes a nice review of important Berkeley econ contributions, but he in no way makes his case that it is #1 or that it has influenced the field more than have other top departments. A similar review could be written about any tier 1 department, with similarly important contributions.

E.g., "Andrew McCutchen is a great baseball player. I will not mention other players, hence I conclude McCutchen is the greatest baseball player."

Agree, could he not cobble together an equivalent summary of very impressive bios from Stanford, for example?

And this is typical of the level of argumentation. Thesis: Berkeley has influenced the research agenda. Evidence: Barry Eichengreen is a very distinguished practitioner of syncretic economic history.

Also agree. He doesn't begin to make the case that Berkeley is number 1.

Krugman actually has a good point this time.

#7 - I was going to puke if this linked to the the Planned Parenthood video.

I was hoping for buskers and dancing monkeys.


I think it aligns with what, in hindsight, I think are my priors.

Yeah, I really dug Kevin's series. Turner's a bit of an oddball -- the new album is amazing but it's the first as a leader in a long time, and I've seen him in the interim buried in Dave Holland's Big Band and the like. I know Professor Cowen is a Kurt Rosenwinkel fan -- I remember back in the 90's Turner and Rosenwinkel were basically leading the same band but leading on different albums, which was an interesting chance to get a sense of each person's aesthetic.

Rosenwinkel is one hot-diggity cat.

#7...I find the reality of growing mini-organs very disturbing, and I wasn't terribly reassured by the scientist not knowing what he'd cooked up at first. On the other, I can't tell you how happy I am that heads and butts aren't organs.

How do we figure out whether people are being truthful about their taste in music, versus signaling by claiming to like high-prestige music?

I guarantee you that 95% of the people who claim to like jazz and classical are lying.

The old joke about jazz is that if you go to a performance there will be more professionals in the audience than on the stage.

It's just like what they say about guitarists.

Rock guitarists play three chords in front of 3,000 people.
Jazz guitarists play 3,000 chords in front of three people.

These days the word is that there are more people who play jazz than can stand listening to it.

It's not really that hard to figure out if somebody cares enough about a style of music to have an informed opinion about their tastes. For example, I could convince you that I like classical music enough to know which composers I like and which ones I don't, but I shouldn't be able to convince you that I like classical music enough to know which conductors I like and which ones I don't.

Re 5:
I'm a second year PhD student in Harvard Economics, did my undergrad at Berkeley. For readers unfamiliar with the inside-baseball, Berkeley is ranked somewhere in the 3-6 range, while Harvard and MIT duke it out over the 1 and 2 slots.

I was always impressed by the grad students in the Berkeley econ department, but as a group they're just not in the same league as my classmates here. The drop-off in input quality when you leave 02138/9 is pretty steep, and it must be even steeper when you look past the top 6-10. I mean this in the least arrogant way possible.

The consensus is that most of the value-added comes from interacting with your classmates, so the peer effects are dominant. In terms of teaching, I actually found the Berkeley faculty put in more effort, but the courses here are at a higher level. (Since Raj moved, there's a DiD estimator available...)

I can't speak to the quality of the advising elsewhere, but the dominance of the top schools self-perpetuates pretty easily. Because 2/3 of the faculty at the top 6 went to Harvard or MIT, any potential advisor I end up with has personal relationships with members of the faculty anywhere I'll be applying for a job. It's a comforting thought.

Actually, research has shown there is greater within-program variance in PhD student ability than between-program. Most Harvard or MIT PhDs will have unremarkable careers, and the best Michigan PhD (say) will have a better career than will most Harvard and MIT PhDs.

Economics does not add value. Becoming an economist/economics professor is basically like going on welfare. You are just eating food off someone else's plate, and give nothing but snake oil in return.

We need great minds in civil engineering, medicine, agriculture.

Straight up welfare rats living in section 8 are at least up front about their moral and intellectual poverty.
The econ phd's at Harvard are simply on another level of dissimulation compared to berkeley, eh?

Insider, You went to Berkeley, and got accepted to Harvard. What does that tell you about Berkeley? Presumably, you even beat out some Harvard and MIT students. In any case, what you describe is less added value than a circle jerk.

Inevitably, someone is going to take the findings of 2 and use it to try to craft a pro-Jazz/R&B and anti-Rock/Metal policy in order to increase "empathy and prosocial behavior".


Thought this was going to be a praise of Berkeley the town. And I was going to ask: have you ever walked through People's Park?

Doug, A friendly bit of advice...Don't ever add your last name to your posts.

Thank you for the link on number 1. Both an interesting read style-wise, and informative.

Tyler, a request:

You already have the habit of linking to a google search for the headline of WSJ articles, as a way to circumvent their paywall. Please consider doing the same for the NYT. I assume you a subscriber, so this would be a few extra seconds of work for you each time. But if you were to make this sacrifice, it would be appreciated by some of your readers. (The issue is that when you link to the page on, I have to copy the text of the headline in the 10 seconds before the paywall javascript makes it unselectable.) Alternately if anyone has a link to an up-to-date chrome extension that automatically circumvents the paywall, please let me know.

Copy the URL, remove the dashes.


If you delete your NYT cookie, you get a fresh set of articles. You can easily do this by simply deleting your browsing history before clicking the link.

I think both of the Mark Turner links go to the same place.

On the matter of Berkeley, Noah's claim suffers from the problem that there is no theme to what has gone on at Berkeley. There is a "Chicago School," no explanation on this forum needed for anybody who is not completely ignorant. While people do not talk about a "MIT School," there are people running around saying there is (see Krugman), and indeed one can argue not entirely incomprehensibly that there is such a such "school," call it a mathematically derived view from the work of Paul Samuelson, the founder and builder of the MIT dept, which is very important in terms of modern econ, arguably the still top dept in the world, whether one approves of this or likes it or not.

But, there is no "Berkeley School." Certainly there have been many important and influential economists at UCB, but they are all over the place, and while most are more or less center-to-further left in their politics, none are radical lefties, not even Saez, and some of the most important have no clear political identies. Does anybody know what the politics of either McFadden or Williamson are? I know both of these very respected gentlemen, and I do not know what their political views are. This is just a joke.

Sounds like an argument in favour of Berkeley.

Regarding music, well, so, duh, those who listen to easy listening are different from those who listen to hip-hop. Duh. OK, that is the masses, but I am an insufferable snob as regular readers here know. So, as an annouced snob I do not give a whatever about this gustabiciousness,

So, for the serious group that knows classical music (sorry, I have no respect, none, for the rest of you, get lost, losers), there are two real questions. The first is: Why do those who prefer Richard Strauss over Gustav Mahler also seem to prefer Sergei Prokofiev over Dmitri Shostakovich?

The other is a bit nastier. Is it really true that people who prefer Bach over Mozart are Nazis, whereas those who prefer Mozart over Bach are Jews in concentration camps walking into oven doors?

The other is a bit nastier. Is it really true that people who prefer Bach over Mozart are Nazis, whereas those who prefer Mozart over Bach are Jews in concentration camps walking into oven doors?

Hey Barkley that's real classy ...


Yeah, a bit over the top, but not completely off. When Hitler ran Germany, of course they admired Beethoven and his fave, the notoriously anti-Semitic Wagner, whose widow, Cosima, personally approved of him in the 1920s before she died. But the supremely admired composer above all others as the truest German of them all was J.S. Bach.

OTOH, in the camps when Jewish musicians would manage to get some instruments and play for themselves, it has long been reported that Mozart was their favorite, with perhaps The Magic Flute the supremely played piece, with its pure escapism a kind of in-the-face of the Nazi guards statement of, "You can do to us what you like, but we can rise above it all with this!" You can check this out.

Wearing the ball cap backwards is functional, to keep the sun off the back of your neck. Especially if you are driving a tractor or bulldozer.
If the sun is coming from the front, you turn it around. Don't need no apps. Just turn it around.

Now wearing baggy pants backwards, I don't have a good theory for that. But it looks cool. Now that I have a job I wear my pants the boring adult way.

7. I blame Planned Parenthood.

Analyses of fine-grained psychological and sonic attributes in the music revealed that type E individuals preferred music that featured low arousal (gentle, warm, and sensual attributes), negative valence (depressing and sad), and emotional depth (poetic, relaxing, and thoughtful

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