07 February 2011

Anything but water

  • "AP exams [in economics] stress mechanical exercises at the expense of the economic way of thinking... very few of the exam questions test the ability of students to reason, to systematically compare and contrast different choices in a variety of settings, to interpret the economics of current events, or to identify the errors often present in articles in the popular media... This mechanistic approach leaves students with the false impression that economics is like engineering."

  • While in a ritzy hotel recently, I had a business idea: collect all the partially used shampoo and soap and recycle it into "new" products. Turns out that some hotels already do this in some places (no link, just a story from the front desk guy). The recycled product is sold in developing countries.

  • Russ Roberts discusses the ins and outs of inflation and monetary policy in this podcast.

  • Politicians fail to agree on what caused or how to prevent the next financial crisis. Looks like we need to cut too big to fail companies down to the size where they can fail. The bears explain why TARP was still a give away by The Bernank.

  • Robert Pyke leaves a comment on the difficulty of leaving good comments on email, blogs, etc.

  • Climate ignorance in one picture:

H/Ts to SK and RM


BB said...


The Billion Prices Project is an academic initiative that collects prices from hundreds of online retailers around the world on a daily basis to conduct economic research. They currently monitor daily price fluctuations of ~5 million items sold by ~300 online retailers in more than 70 countries.

Measuring inflation is a time-consuming business: at the beginning of each month, government researchers across the country amass troves of data on prices for everything from shoes to milk to phones. Two weeks after the end of the month, the government releases gauges of inflation like the Consumer Price Index. But inflation hunters may now get an advance glimpse of the data, thanks to a real-time inflation calculator devised by two economists at M.I.T., Alberto Cavallo and Roberto Rigobon.

Cavallo and Rigobon devised software that scans Web sites for prices, using a method similar to the one that Google uses to index Web pages. Whenever a new page containing a product and a price appears, the software begins tracking it. The initial results are promising: the price index has anticipated the government’s inflation data with remarkable precision.

The Key Facts of the Project are:
-Statistics updated every day
-5 million individual items
-70 countries
-Started in October of 2007
-Supermarkets, electronics, apparel, furniture, real estate, and more

stickman said...

Regarding that picture, I guess you've heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

The wiki link above includes a great quote from Bertrand Russell: "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision."

dWj said...

I bet it's a lot easier to write (and grade) tests that focus on mechanical exercises than to write conceptual ones.

The Outsider said...

Help me out here. Which ones are ignorant in that figure? Admitting you don't understand something may make you ignorant by some strict definition, but surely it's better than believing you do when you don't. Right?

I suspect what Strong Democrats really understand is that other Strong Democrats believe global warming is the sort of cause a Strong Democrat should be in favor of -- or oppose, it's not totally clear.

To be sure, Strong Republicans have their own shibboleths, too.

Tim in Albion said...

What that graph tells me is how strongly climate change - which is, and ought to be, a scientific finding rather than a belief - has become an ideological proxy. Tell me where you stand on the subject, and I'll know how you vote. That's objectively quite weird, as climate change really has no direct link to either party's core concepts; but nowadays we all identify ourselves by our differences...