Friday assorted links

1. The integration of economic history into economics.

2. What might we be learning from Google sex searches.  Is a marginal vs. infra-marginal distinction relevant here?  Maybe you search for what you are curious about because you don’t have it at the margin, rather than it being your core desire.

3. What if the Nobel Prize in economics were granted since 1901?

4. Are chess players more rational?

5. Federalism and fiscal capacity.

6. Before the internet.


2. This is being spun as some "new science", that web searches are somehow more scientific than surveys. I think this is dubious at best. There is nothing "scientific" about it.

It's more overselling of "Big Data", just like the infamous Wired cover story. More data does not necessarily clarify anything, remember that famous presidential phone survey from the 1930's.

This article uses actual viewed data connected with search terms -

The points are fairly far from big data, though data clearly plays a major role in at least attempting to buttress them..

The Metafilter discussion is also interesting, in a Metafilter sort of way (yes, there are multiple ways to look at that article) -

6. I remember my dad's car stalling and him having to walk to a gas station to use their phone. I remember actually having to use a paper encyclopedia and dictionary. And I remember when my uncle got a cell phone when I was in my teens - it was incredibly basic, just a phone with a couple hours of battery. I thought it was kind of dumb.

I remember having to steal by dad's porn from his hiding spot, and put it back EXACTLY the way I found it.

I was pretty impressed. My dad had an uncanny ability to find the hotel. No matter what city it was. I always had to stop and buy a paper map at a service center or something.

The fact that you can connect a phone to a battery is dumb. What is clever is that the cellular system knows where you are, who you are, whom you are trying to call, and where they are, anywhere in the world. (If you're an engineer, try to imagine designing that system from scratch.)

2. I thought this bit was strange:

"data suggests that there are more gay men in the closet than we think.....that a lot of straight women watch lesbian porn"

So, men who like gay male porn are assumed to be gay, but women who like lesbian porn are assumed to be straight? The difference in framing seems to say more about the researcher than the data.

I recently read somewhere that there is also an unusually high number of women that watch and enjoy gay male porn as well.

Women's sexuality is far far more "vending machine" (this is a metaphor people use for male sexuality often) than people give it credit for. They'll watch the hetero when they're feeling hetero, watch the lesbian porn when they want a more "intimate" feel, and gay male porn which is mostly about power relationships and domination...which they also enjoy sometimes.

Also, it is estimated that a good 1/3 of women are regular consumers of pornography and that number is rising. Food for thought.

Massive life hack that took me too long to figure out: stop hiding your porn habits and get your lady friend on board. She's freakier than you think.

I actually came to this conclusion 2 exes ago...THEY ARE freakier than men and I suspect think about sex a lot more often and for longer as well. A combination of subconscious internalized slut-shaming, difficulty with separating emotional intimacy and impact from the act of sex itself, and a veiled desire to not "give up the game" to the vast majority of men (mostly beta) keeps this conversation from happening.

The researcher didn't write that. The reporter wrote that, probably under pressure of deadlines and ignorant copyeditors. It is obvious that the reality is more complex than what is in that sentence.

6. "Is there a booklet on this shit?"

OK I actually laughed out loud. Great piece.

Will quickly read and summarize each link.

#1 - economics history is different from history and economics, but mainly closer to economics, for tenure purposes

#2 - "Among other things, Stephens-Davidowitz’s data suggests that there are more gay men in the closet than we think; that many men prefer overweight women to skinny women but are afraid to act on it; that married women are disproportionately worried their husband is gay; that a lot of straight women watch lesbian porn; and that porn featuring violence against women is more popular among women than men" - keep in mind the keywords here are "than we think", i.e., at the margin there's more of these searchers than expected.

#3 - Early potential Nobelists, interesting list. On Frank Edgeworth: (Wikipedia) "His most original and creative book on economics was Mathematical Psychics: An Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences, published in 1881 at the beginning of his long career in the subject. The book was notoriously difficult to read. He frequently referenced literary sources and interspersed the writing with passages in a number of languages, including Latin, French and Ancient Greek. The mathematics was similarly difficult, and a number of his creative applications of mathematics to economic or moral issues would be judged as incomprehensible. "

#4 - Are chess players more rational? Bounded rationality problem given, and I'd like to think so.

#5 - VERY good article. I'm pro-development in real estate, and I notice certain counties south of DC oppose widening interstate I-95, even with federal funds, due to pressures outlined in this article. "Eliminating an inefficient, regressive tax break in exchange for a broader base and lower tax rates should have been a no-brainer, but a coalition soon arose to oppose the proposal" - good sentence. A similar thing happened south of the US border with land reform (e.g., only 2.4% of rural Mexicans in 1910 owned land, compare to 75% in the USA in 1900 and 90% in Canada in 1901; source: Engerman et al's "Econ Dev in the Americans since 1500"); in short, the 'limousine liberals' hold back progress.

#6 - Before the Internet: more creativity, more sunlight. Did you know Marcel Proust died of pneumonia and lung abscesses due to excessive quack (not patent) medicine snorting and an unhealthy indoors lifestyle? I thought it was TB but no. From reading "Proust and his banker".

Agreed with #5 being excellent. Repeal the state income tax deduction.

#6 I had a sad. There is a part of me that misses the pre-internet era, and feels really bad for my friend's new-born whose mom posted his picture 5 minutes out of the womb on facebook...

3 - "What if the Nobel Prize in economics were granted since 1901?"

1929: "This Academy has decided not to award the Nobel Prize in Economics this year"

1930: "This Academy has the honor of awarding

Mr. Georgy Piatakov with the Nobel Prize in Economics for his theorical work on the socialist primitive accumulation and for proving a planned economy can not only avoid the irrational exuberancy of Capitalism and its inherent crises"

and the Magnitogorsk Steel Mill Number 21 for having met and surplassed by 427% the targets set by the Five-year and showing the great triumph of the spontaneous stakhanovite movement.

"3. What if the Nobel Prize in economics were granted since 1901?" Then it would presumably be a real Nobel Prize rather than a counterfeit one. On the other hand, comparison with the other Nobel disciplines might make it look even paltrier than it looks now, long after the golden years of physics and physiology/medicine.

#5 seems to me on many domestic projects that the Fed's does, would be better done at the state level but that the feds have more ability to tax (not easy to leave the USA easier to leave your state).

IMHO Healthcare is one of those thinngs, the states regulate healthcare most. The Feds would be better off to send all the health-care money to the states based in population and age and say you have to cover those over 65 and the poor and do with the rest what you will.

4. I fail to understand why 0 would be the only rational choice. You're predicting what other humans will choose, and the more rational you are the more easily you can see how irrational other humans can be and are. Assuming you understand the game the higher the number you choose the lower you anticipate others are understanding it. A higher number guessed can be a rational illustration of understanding just how irrational others are, along with your assumption of how irrational other players think others are, etc.

#6. Funny but an exaggerration.
There was television, and 60 channels of crap, there were phones, there were video games (Atari! Nintendo!). There was phone sex, which might even still exist. There were magazines full of advertising and TV full of commercials. And newspaper ads. And letters to the editor.

The main difference is not that it's more entertaining, but that it's easier to communicate en masse with other people without going through the filter of a publisher or media company.

3: This appears to be a good list, although I haven't heard of some of the early names on the list. I was going to suggest that as long as we're doing a counterfactual Nobel list, it could include not just early winners but could also include people such as Baumol. But the list does that already.

Random encounters with descendants of some alt-Nobelists: I know someone who taught intro econ to Hillary Hotelling. He had to ask and yep she's the granddaughter or some such of Harold. And I used to be roommates with two of Jacob Marschak's granddaughters.

One of my best friends was roommates with Svante Arrhenius' granddaughter.

5. Don't overlook the author using economic circumstances and differences from the past to make a case for new national tax policies of the present, a past that no longer describes current circumstances and differences. I appreciate the technique from an advocates point of view, but it is dishonest intellectually and shouldn't persuade anyone paying the slightest attention. Don't underestimate the effect on the dumbing down of America.

#3 1921: Vilfredo Pareto: For his contributions to microeconomics and welfare economics

#1. Well, the History departments are run by Marxists, so ....

2. How about "the weirdo 10% consume 90% of the porn?"

Winifred Bates of the daily worker drew a cartoon that was malignant first circulated in Madrid and later in Barcelona and represented poum as slipping off a mask marked with the hammer and sickle and revealing a face market with the swastika

Wow a Quora question!

Who uses Google for pron searches?

Bing is far superior.

#3 Goes with several other links this day. NHST has dramatically slowed humans' development as "E"conomists and others (like Tyler) have exploited the "gross misunderstanding" of "error", "significant", "confidence" and "power" to fabricate false truths that have for decades now led us off the path of reason and into the bramblebush of envy, fear and hatred.

#3: If the Nobel in Economics were available some years after, say, 1871, I'd split it between Carl Menger, William Stanley Jevons and Leon Walras.

I think each of them should get the full prize.

#4: You'll notice the character string 'Bobby Fischer' never appears in the article.

Wow a Quora question

5. "...the costs of providing basic services — education, law enforcement, social assistance — are not that much lower in Kansas than in Massachusetts."

Where does that come from? Most of the cost of providing government services is salaries and benefits, which should be driven largely by the cost of living. This site ( vs. gives the cost of living in Massachusetts as 60% higher than Kansas; Zillow gives a much greater disparity between house prices, ~300% .

wow its really nice articles

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