Month: December 2021

Many heads are more utilitarian than one


Collective consensual judgments made via group interactions were more utilitarian than individual judgments.

Group discussion did not change the individual judgments indicating a normative conformity effect.

Individuals consented to a group judgment that they did not necessarily buy into personally.

Collectives were less stressed than individuals after responding to moral dilemmas.

Interactions reduced aversive emotions (e.g., stressed)associated with violation of moral norms.

Here is the full article by Anita Keshmirian, Ophelia Deroy, and Bahador Bahrami.  Via Michelle Dawson.

Earlier data on Texas abortion restrictions

Between 2011 and 2014, Texas enacted three pieces of legislation that significantly reduced funding for family planning services and increased restrictions on abortion clinic operations. Together this legislation creates cross-county variation in access to abortion and family planning services, which we leverage to understand the impact of family planning and abortion clinic access on abortions, births, and contraceptive purchases. In response to these policies, abortions to Texas residents fell 20.5%and births rose 2.6% in counties that no longer had an abortion provider within 50 miles. Changes in the family planning market induced a 1.5% increase in births for counties that no longer had a publicly funded family planning clinic within 25 miles. Meanwhile, responses of retail purchases of condoms and emergency contraceptives to both abortion and family planning service changes were minimal.

That is an NBER paper from 2017 by Stefanie Fischer and Corey White.

Friday assorted links

1. Krugman on inflation (NYT).

2. Adam Gopnik on Get Back (New Yorker).

3. Where Chile stands (FT).

4. “the median age of Canada’s fifteen largest public companies is 122 years.

5. Why is cryonics not more popular?

6. “We theorize that East Asians (e.g., ethnic Chinese)—but not South Asians (e.g., ethnic Indians)—are less likely than other ethnicities to emerge as leaders in multiethnic environments partly because East Asians socialize more with ethnic ingroup members (other East Asians). Analyzing a survey of 54,620 Juris Doctor (JD) students from 124 U.S. law schools, Study 1 revealed that East Asians had the highest ethnic homophily of all ethnicities.”  Link here.

Football [soccer] has become more predictable

In recent years, excessive monetization of football and professionalism among the players have been argued to have affected the quality of the match in different ways. On the one hand, playing football has become a high-income profession and the players are highly motivated; on the other hand, stronger teams have higher incomes and therefore afford better players leading to an even stronger appearance in tournaments that can make the game more imbalanced and hence predictable. To quantify and document this observation, in this work, we take a minimalist network science approach to measure the predictability of football over 26 years in major European leagues. We show that over time, the games in major leagues have indeed become more predictable. We provide further support for this observation by showing that inequality between teams has increased and the home-field advantage has been vanishing ubiquitously. We do not include any direct analysis on the effects of monetization on football’s predictability or therefore, lack of excitement; however, we propose several hypotheses which could be tested in future analyses.

Here is the full article by Victor Martins Maimone and Taha Yasseri.  Via Michelle Dawson.

In which ways does inflation harm the poor?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:

One major factor: The poor is the socioeconomic group that finds it hardest to purchase a home, and real estate seems to be one of the best inflation hedges. U.S. real estate prices have been on a tear for some time, including through the recent inflationary period…

The poor also save less, including as a share of their incomes, because they have to spend a relatively large percentage of their incomes on necessities. That means they have smaller buffers against many kinds of changes and uncertainties, including those of inflation.

Some researchers have referred to inflation as a “regressive consumption tax,” because cash balances are so often the pathway to consumption for poorer income groups. Poorer individuals also are less likely to have cash management accounts and other asset holdings that might partially insulate them from the losses of inflation.


Probably the strongest argument in favor of the notion that the poor are less affected by inflation is that inflation can, under some circumstances, lower the real value of debt. If prices go up 7%, and your income goes up 7%, all of a sudden your debts — which typically are fixed in nominal value — are worth 7% less.

This mechanism is potent, but it assumes that real wages keep pace with inflation. Right now real wages are falling, and with higher inflation may continue to do so. Furthermore, many poor people roll over their debts for longer periods of time. Repaying those debts will eventually be cheaper in inflation-adjusted terms, but not anytime soon.

I’ve been focusing on the U.S., but elsewhere in the world the general correlation is that high inflation and high income inequality go together. Correlation is not causation, but those are not numbers helpful to anyone who wishes to argue that inflation is a path to greater income equality. Have very high levels of inflation done much for the poor in Venezuela and Zimbabwe?  And if you ask which group would benefit from an improvement in living standards prompted by higher rates of investment, as might follow from a period of stability — it is the poor, not the wealthy.

There is further content at the link.

Robert Downey does his own version of Fast Grants

This is from Robert:

Unfortunately, if there’s one major shortcoming of our existing scientific institutions, it’s speed. In the earliest days of the pandemic, as researchers raced to understand COVID-19 and test ideas for response, a group of outsider philanthropists stepped up to create Fast Grants for quick-turnaround financial resources for new questions and ideas. The program did more than just fund projects, it showed that there was a more effective, less bureaucratic way to support scientists…

We are in the business of supporting entrepreneurial scientists and we are in agreement that the major impediments are the obvious limitations of decision-making by committee. We’re trying something different. FootPrint Coalition is funding early research in brand new environmental fields, and doing it under the direction of esteemed Science Leads who can move quickly and fund at their discretion. The FootPrint Coalition Science Engine builds off suggestions made in the Funding Risky Research paper. It operationalizes the “loose-play funding for early-stage risky explorations” but doesn’t bind it to universities.

We’re doing it “in public” on the Experiment funding platform, a website for crowdfunding science research projects, so anyone can participate as a cofunder.

I am delighted to see so many philanthropic experiments in the works.  And yes it is that Robert Downey

Will this Australian polity prove sustainable?

And what would Lysander Spooner say?:

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the two-week rule for vaccinated close contacts was under constant review.


When Shaun Ferguson was browsing the plants at a local nursery last Tuesday afternoon, he never thought it would land him in two weeks quarantine in a medi-hotel.

That night he received the text message that no one wants to receive.

“At about 11.30 that night I got a text message from SA Health saying that I’d been to a potential exposure site for the Omicron strain,” Mr Ferguson said…

There were three other people on the bus with him, including a woman who had also visited the pet and plant shop in Glengowrie.

“She said, ‘I never go anywhere, I’m fully vaccinated … I just decided I’d go there and get this cat brush and now look what happens. I’m in quarantine,'” Mr Ferguson said.

There is much more to the story, and for the pointer I thank A.

Arc Institute

Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Arc is a nonprofit research organization founded on the belief that many important scientific programs can be enabled by new organizational models. Arc operates in partnership with Stanford University, UCSF, and UC Berkeley.

Arc gives scientists no-strings-attached, multi-year funding, so that they don’t have to apply for external grants, and invests in the rapid development of experimental and computational technological tools.

As individuals, Arc researchers collaborate across diverse disciplines to study complex diseases, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and immune dysfunction. As an organization, Arc strives to enable ambitious, long-term research agendas.

Arc’s mission is to accelerate scientific progress, understand the root causes of disease, and narrow the gap between discoveries and impact on patients.

An auspicious debut, here is the website, and here is further interpretation from Patrick Collison.

My Conversation with Ray Dalio

Here is the audio and video and transcript.  Here is part of the CWT summary:

Ray joined Tyler to discuss the forces that will affect American life in the coming decades, why we should be skeptical of the saliency of current equities prices, the market as a poker game, the benefits and risks of the US dollar as the world reserve currency, why he thinks US inflation will not be transitory, the key to his success as an investor, how studying the Great Depression enabled him to anticipate the 2008 financial crisis, Bridgewater’s culture of radical transparency, the usefulness of psychometric profiles, where the United States is falling short most in terms of moral character, his truth-seeking process, the kinds of education crucial to building a successful dynasty or empire — and what causes them to fail, how transcendental meditation helps him be creative and objective, what he loves about jazz music, what we undervalue about the ocean, why he loves bow-hunting Cape Buffalo, and more.

Here is one excerpt:

There is much more at the link!  And if you would like to donate to support Conversations with Tyler, here is the link.