Monday miscellany

  • Three-Toed Sloth discusses what makes a statistician vs. a data scientist, a debate you’re likely to encounter if your work intersects with quantitative work in any way.
  • Eight (relatively) young economists on the future of their field, via pretty much everyone. I’d love to see what similarly junior economists in the 1970s would have guessed would befall economics over the last 40 years; I could see at least some of them getting the broad sweep right, but I’d also bet they would overestimate how much progress a couple academic generations can make. Call me a pessimist.
  • This post by Lee Crawfurd points to Esther Duflo’s Tanner lecture on paternalism in development economics, which restates some of the themes from Poor Economics. I highly recommend the lecture based on what I’ve read; though my read was quick I found it both fascinating and dense (in the sense that it is idea- and information-rich, not dull) and realized I will need to revisit it, maybe more than once. I also liked this quote from Lee’s post:

Back in England, I can’t imagine anything worse than having to meet all of my neighbours after work to figure out how we are going to run the rubbish collection or fix the potholes in the road. That stuff just gets done. Services get delivered without me having to think about it at all. All I need is a mechanism to complain if things don’t work, but don’t ask me to help you plan how to fix it.

  • A dose of pop culture remix: what would 2001 have looked like had it been made in 2012? This trailer answers that question (which I’m sure you’ve wondered, right?).
  • This looks interesting: the “Public Health Twitter Journal Club” is currently picking its next article for discussion from a selection of smoking-related papers.
  • Finally, a non-link observation: watching the Olympics abroad (specifically, on ArabSat) makes me realize how much the coverage I’ve watched during previous Olympiads is shaped by being in the US. Not only has (for better or worse) the coverage focused on the actual events, rather than endless interviews and inspirational backstories, I’ve been impressed by the difference in the quantity of Americans on display. While the US does have one of the largest Olympic teams, many events I’ve watched haven’t had American competitors at all, or only had one who didn’t medal, whereas coverage in the US is always biased towards events in which Americans are traditionally strong. I guess it’s blindingly obvious in a sense, but a good reminder: often you only see what you’re looking for.

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08 2012

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