Parting Thoughts


I spent about 45 minutes trying to figure out where I went wrong with a calculation. Sign error….(RIGHT hand rules apply when you use your RIGHT hand…. 🙂 )



My goal is to respect people but it is NOT to respect all ideas. Some ideas are just plain bad.
Sure, some critiques are far more competent than others (watch creationists and woos try to critique science…they fail miserably) but ideas that are put forth are subject to critique…including religious ones.


Ok, by “confidence” I mean “confidence in your sex appeal”. True: most middle aged women don’t look like this, but so what? I don’t look like an Olympic athlete either, and it isn’t as if I am rolling in million of dollars. 🙂 Ladies: most of you look better to us than you think. 😉

Now of course, one of my friends pointed out that not all types of confidence is warranted; that much is true. People who grossly overestimate their intelligence turn me off.

In fact, I think that if L represents “loudness”, then lim_{L \rightarrow \infty} \frac{self assessed intelligence}{actual intelligence} = \infty . The loudest people aren’t always the dumbest, but they are the most likely to see themselves as being much smarter than they actually are.

The Very Serious People seized on some studies that made sense to them. But they were…well…wrong:

The intellectual edifice of austerity economics rests largely on two academic papers that were seized on by policy makers, without ever having been properly vetted, because they said what the Very Serious People wanted to hear. One was Alesina/Ardagna on the macroeconomic effects of austerity, which immediately became exhibit A for those who wanted to believe in expansionary austerity. Unfortunately, even aside from the paper’s failure to distinguish between episodes in which monetary policy was available and those in which it wasn’t, it turned out that their approach to measuring austerity was all wrong; when the IMF used a measure that tracked actual policy, it turned out that contractionary policy was contractionary.

The other paper, which has had immense influence — largely because in the VSP world it is taken to have established a definitive result — was Reinhart/Rogoff on the negative effects of debt on growth. Very quickly, everyone “knew” that terrible things happen when debt passes 90 percent of GDP.

Some of us never bought it, arguing that the observed correlation between debt and growth probably reflected reverse causation. But even I never dreamed that a large part of the alleged result might reflect nothing more profound than bad arithmetic.

But it seems that this is just what happened. Mike Konczal has a good summary of a review by Herndon, Ash, and Pollin. According to the review paper, R-R mysteriously excluded data on some high-debt countries with decent growth immediately after World War II, which would have greatly weakened their result; they used an eccentric weighting scheme in which a single year of bad growth in one high-debt country counts as much as multiple years of good growth in another high-debt country; and they dropped a whole bunch of additional data through a simple coding error.

The problem: many who speak of these matters know nothing about them; they merely grasp on “studies” that give the answer that they believe all along.
No, that isn’t just right wingers (sadly).

Jumping to conclusions:
You knew that this was coming:

Days after the 1996 Olympic Park bombing, media and federal investigators focused on their top suspect: Richard Jewell, the security guard who had first discovered the bomb which killed one and injured 111. It took more than a year for Jewell to clear his name; he would successfully sue several outlets for their coverage but remained haunted by the memory of the reporters who went after him “like piranha on a bleeding cow” for years.

In the 24 hours following yesterday’s tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, several right-wing media figures have attempted to create their own Jewell. Echoing the same piranha-like voraciousness seen in that case, they have published the name, home address, and what they claim are Facebook pictures of a 20-year-old Saudi national that police have since identified as a witness — not a suspect — to the Boston bombings.

Less than two hours after the bombing took place, The New York Post — citing unnamed “law enforcement sources” — claimed that a “Saudi Arabian national” was a “suspect” in the case and that he was “under guard at an undisclosed Boston hospital.” Several right-wing outlets quickly trumpeted that report. But the claim quickly unraveled (as did the paper’s similarly sourced claim that 12 had been killed in the explosions), with law enforcement telling reporters that no one had been arrested in the case and that the Saudi was a witness who was cooperating with authorities.

By the next afternoon, Fox News was reporting that “a federal law enforcement official is confirming… that Saudi man, the college student who was described as a person of interest in the Boston bombings, has now been ruled out as a suspect in this bombing.”

But in the interim, the right-wing media — led by popular conservative blogger Jim Hoft — swallowed the initial Post report and began posting as much personal information about the man as they could discover.

This is shameful but….once again, is not only done by the right wing. Example.

Confidence and over confidence
Being successful at something, say, business, doesn’t mean that you have answers to other types of problems:

The sad truth is that some students show up to school without having a bona-fide chance of learning and it is stupid to blame teachers for that. Good teaching makes a difference in MANY students. But they are not miracle workers.


April 16, 2013 - Posted by | economics, economy, education, human sexuality, Personal Issues, relationships, religion, social/political | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: