Month: May 2017
3. Obit of Hegelian Duncan Forbes, one of the best I’ve read, from 1994.
Student protesters shut down a sociology class at Northwestern University on Tuesday, after a professor invited an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) public relations officer to be a guest speaker.
The protesters, chanting and waving banners, argued that the officer’s presence on campus represented a threat to undocumented students. But the professor — who canceled the class during the protest because she was concerned for the speaker’s safety — said she had been hoping to start a dialogue.
“The goal was to bring in somebody who was familiar with how that agency is structured,” Beth Redbird, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology…
Addendum: The same professor wrote #7 here.
As Table 3 shows, eight of the nation’s 12 largest metropolitan areas have lost domestic migrants since 2010. These areas are either pricey coastal regions, or are located in the industrial Midwest. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have led the nation in domestic out migration for more than three decades. However, because each also receives substantial numbers of international migrants, their overall migration loss for 2010-2016 is minimized. This is also true for other domestic migration losers on the list.
In contrast, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta registered significant domestic in-migration gains.
That is nominal rates of change, and that is from Pedro Nicolaci da Costa.
To be clear, I am a non-believer, but it is often worth trying to figure out versions of alternative views.
I am struck by those believers who find the “multiverse” or “we live in a simulation” to be absurd positions, presumably in their minds more absurd than theism.
My thoughts wander back to David Hume’s classic discussion of stumbling upon a watch in the wilderness. Is it a “strange” watch? We have an answer to this question only because we’ve already seen other watches. We cannot with similar facility judge whether this is a “strange” universe/multiverse, nor can we readily judge a particular origin story for that universe as strange, or not. We have no point of comparison, and furthermore I am not sure we can appeal to the physical laws that operate inside of this universe.
To many people, the branching multiverse seems bizarre, but “steady state matter” theories do not (even if they are false). I am suggesting that distinction cannot be upheld. You haven’t seen a multiverse in Cleveland before, and so you scratch your head and call that science fiction. But you have seen stuff just sitting around on the sofa. I submit that is a cosmological bias, not the grounds for an insight into origin stories.
If we cannot judge the strangeness of the universe, or judge the strangeness of an origin story for the universe, that is itself strange. So we are always in the realm of the strange, it seems.
One major objection to theism is already taken off the table, namely the view of many non-believers that it is somehow absurd, mystical, Santa Claus-like, and so on.
So it’s “strangeness all the way down.”
What then is the most focal “strange” view on origins that we have?
To be sure, you might side against “focality” as a standard for choosing amongst very strange views about origins. But now it seems we are on a turf where all kinds of doctrines stand a fighting chance.
We quantify the amount of spatial misallocation of labor across US cities and its aggregate costs. Misallocation arises because high productivity cities like New York and the San Francisco Bay Area have adopted stringent restrictions to new housing supply, effectively limiting the number of workers who have access to such high productivity. Using a spatial equilibrium model and data from 220 metropolitan areas we find that these constraints lowered aggregate US growth by more than 50% from 1964 to 2009.
For $49.99, patrons can “sip their coffee while seated at bistro-style tables, nicely draped with red and white gingham tablecloths… all while being surrounded by rats.” The price includes all-you-can-drink coffee, tea, water and pastries, along with admission to the dungeon. (Don’t forget the 15 minutes of rat interaction!)
Here is the link, via the excellent Samir Varma.
I will be doing a Conversations with Tyler with him, June 14, Arlington, 6:30 p.m., register here.
Here is Wikipedia on Ben Sasse. In addition to being a Senator from Nebraska, he has extensive experience in government, was an assistant professor, president of Midland University, and he has a Ph.d. in history from Yale University, with a prize-winning dissertation on religious liberty and the origins of the conservative movement as it relates to the battle over school prayer. He also now has the #1 best-selling book, on raising kids.
Just to be clear, I will not be making what you might call “very current events” the focus of this discussion. So what should I ask him?
Update: rsvp link corrected.
It’s taken some time but owner’s equity in real estate is rising and getting close to its 2006 peak.* The wealth of most households is in the family home so household balance sheets look to be in good shape.
Hat tip: Vernon Smith.
*The graph is now corrected for inflation. My bad. Fortunately FRED makes it easy to fix. You can make your own changes by clicking customize.
Texas: Ranked, Trailer, Soldiers, Sergeant, Bunk, Arena, Evidently, Altar, Alley, Captain.
New York: Subway, Popsicle, Senator, Butthole, Museum, Landlord, Sin, Jacuzzi, Thrusted, Shrugs.
If you and your buddies have a political argument, a vast literature can help you defend your argument even if it’s filled with vague theory, sloppy bad empirics, arguments from authority, and other crap. If someone smart comes along and tries to tell you you’re wrong about something, just demand huffily that she go read the vast literature before she presumes to get involved in the debate. Chances are she’ll just quit the argument and go home, unwilling to pay the effort cost of wading through dozens of crappy papers. And if she persists in the argument without reading the vast literature, you can just denounce her as uninformed and willfully ignorant. Even if she does decide to pay the cost and read the crappy vast literature, you have extra time to make your arguments while she’s so occupied. And you can also bog her down in arguments over the minute details of this or that crappy paper while you continue to advance your overall thesis to the masses.
…My solution to this problem is what I call the Two Paper Rule. If you want me to read the vast literature, cite me two papers that are exemplars and paragons of that literature. Foundational papers, key recent innovations – whatever you like (but no review papers or summaries). Just two. I will read them.If these two papers are full of mistakes and bad reasoning, I will feel free to skip the rest of the vast literature. Because if that’s the best you can do, I’ve seen enough.
Those are both interesting posts, but my perspective is different, probably more as a matter of temperament than thinking they are objectively wrong. Here are a few comments:
1. The best two papers on ethics are not very convincing. Nonetheless people who have worked their way through a good amount of that literature are much better at ethical reasoning than those who have not.
2. The best two papers on global warming are not very convincing. What is convincing is how many different perspectives and how many different branches of science point toward broadly similar conclusions. In fact the aggregate effect here is quite overwhelming (don’t debate gw in the comments, not today; I’ll delete). It is a question of many moats, not all of them being entirely muddy.
3. I see the Smith-Krugman standard as fairly economistic, and fairly MIT-late 20th century at that. It is one vision of what a good literature looks like, and a fairly narrow one. It will elevate simple answers in status, whether or not that is deserved. It discriminates against dialogic knowledge, book-based knowledge, historical knowledge, and knowledge when the answers and methods are not very exact. There is the risk of ending up too certain about one’s knowledge.
That all said, I do understand that specialized top researchers, including Nobel Laureates, often may do better holding relatively narrow methodological visions. Look at all the Nobel Prizes that have been awarded to Chicago. It might be entirely correct to insist that Becker’s treatise on the family pay more attention to anthropology, but that doesn’t mean he should have followed that advicee.
4. The standard seems to discourage reading, and I would not want to teach it to my students. I teach something more like “always read more, unless you are writing or doing relevant quantitative work. And one reason you write is to improve the quality of your reading. Read more and write more, all the time.” I still think that is better advice for most (not all) people.
5. Isn’t there a lot to be said for deferring to the opinions of those who have read through the “muddy moat”? By no means are they all partisans, and the non-partisan ones care most of all about the truth. After all, they did all that reading! Defer, rather than trust so much in your ability to pick you the right two papers, or have someone pick them out for you. I have a much more positive view of survey articles than does Noah, while understanding they do often leave you fairly agnostic on major issues.
6. If the truth of the matter is in fact muddy, you may need to dip into the muddy moat to learn that.
7. The difference between total value and marginal value may be relevant. You might conclude a field literature has low total value, but the marginal value of learning more about that area still could be quite high. That is in part because muddy fields and results don’t spread so readily, and so dipping into the muck can yield some revelations. That is another reason why I would not offer the “two paper standard” as practical advice.
8. If anything, I would put the reading pressure on the other side, namely more rather than less. Rather than encouraging readers to dismiss or downgrade fields, I would urge them to consult different disciplines altogether, including political science, sociology, and anthropology, others too. This is much easier to do if you take a more positive attitude toward survey articles.
9. This is quite a subjective impression, but I worry that the dogmatic will use the two paper standard to dismiss or downgrade particular lines of investigation.
10. I don’t know if Noah and Paul were referring to my colleague Garett Jones, who frequently tweets “…if only there were a vast empirical literature” when he sees claims that he regards as empirically false. Now, I am not the Garett Jones oracle, but I always took his use of the word “vast” to be slightly sarcastic. Usually these are cases where even a fairly cursory knowledge of the literature in question would indicate something is wrong with the claim at hand. In my view, Garett is not demanding “vastness” of effort, rather he is criticizing those who don’t grasp what the effort space looks like in the first place.
I calibrate the [spatial] model to the U.S. economy and find that the rise in regulation accounts for 23% of the increase in wage dispersion and 85% of the increase in house price dispersion across metro areas from 1980 to 2007. I find that if regulation had not increased, more workers would live in productive areas and output would be 2% higher. I also show that policy interventions that weaken incentives of local governments to restrict supply could reduce wage and house price dispersion, and boost productivity.
Here is a related column by Noah Smith.
3. AEI video on Western economic dynamism; somewhere in the middle I give a short five-minute speech summarizing what I think is the best case against the “great stagnation” thesis.
5. Who goes Nazi? (from 1941, Dorothy Thompson)
BMJ: In a national sample of elderly Medicare beneficiaries admitted to hospital with medical conditions, we found that patients treated by older physicians had higher 30 day mortality than those cared for by younger physicians, despite similar patient characteristics. These associations were found among physicians with low and medium volumes of patients but not among those with high volumes.
…Our findings suggest that within the same hospital, patients treated by physicians aged <40 have 0.85 times the odds of dying (1.00/1.17) or an 11% lower probability of dying (10.8/12.1), compared with patients cared for by physicians aged ≥60 (table 2⇑). This difference in mortality is comparable with the impact of statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular mortality on all cause mortality (odds ratio of 0.86)39 or the impact of β blockers on mortality among patients with myocardial infarction (incidence rate ratio of 0.86),40 indicating that our observed difference in mortality is not only statistically significant but arguably clinically significant. In addition, if our results are causal, an adjusted risk difference of 1.3 percentage points suggests that for every 77 patients treated by doctors aged ≥60, one fewer patient would die within 30 days of admission if those patients were cared for by physicians aged <40.
The paper has data on over 700,000 Medicare admissions and over 18 thousand hospitalist physicians. Physicians are assigned to patients more or less randomly depending on admission time so there are no significant differences between patients assigned to younger and older physicians. Older physicians are more likely to be male and, of course, to be trained during a different time period so the paper can’t fully distinguish age effects from cohort effects. The authors do find that older physicians who work a lot perform well–perhaps these physicians update their training or perhaps they are a self-selected vigorous sample. Continuing medical education and assessment requirements are probably very valuable.
Hat tip: Eric Topol.
National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump’s name in “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned,” according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials.
This second bit I am fully in accord with:
Trump likes to look at a map of the country involved when he learns about a topic.