Way to scapegoat, Chronicle of Higher Education!
An article about a Dutch psychologist accused of faking his research data wonders if academic fraudsters are responding to the wrong incentives:
Read More »
Is a desire to get picked up by the Freakonomics blog, or the dozens of similar outlets for funky findings, really driving work in psychology labs? Alternatively—though not really mutually exclusively—are there broader statistical problems with the field that let snazzy but questionable findings slip through?
We recently solicited your questions for Cornell economist Robert Frank, whose new book, The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good, argues (among other things) that competition has made the U.S. economy less efficient. Frank now returns with answers to your questions. Thanks to everyone who participated. Read More »
A small (?) bad-news item about electric cars:
Electric cars face new scrutiny after a fire in a Chevrolet Volt prompted a federal investigation into lithium ion batteries, even after U.S. regulators said their own crash test likely led to the blaze.
And a big bad-news item about electric cars:
Accounting for more than half of the about 216,000 new cars sold sales in Israel by leasing to corporations, rental agencies are balking [at buying electric vehicles] because of uncertainty regarding the cars’ resale value. Mr. Bar said that he fears vehicles with switchable batteries might lose as much as 70% of their original value in four years instead of the typical 40% loss by gasoline-powered vehicles over the same period.
“It’s going to be a nice niche, a gimmick, for people who are environmentalists, and corporations who want to show they are saving the environment, but I don’t see a savings in costs,” Mr. Bar said.
Last week we posted about Harvard’s Nobel Prize Pool, where people could place bets predicting this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for $1 per entry. The Harvard economics faculty ran the site for a few years, dubbing it, “the world’s most accurate prediction market.” Apparently, Harvard wasn’t too keen on the idea, as the following notice now appears on the site:
Unfortunately, we have been advised by Harvard University to immediately shut down the Nobel pool due to legal reasons, and we have decided to comply with this request. We will fully reimburse the money of all participants, and we apologize for any inconvenience this creates for you. All participants will be contacted by email.
For anyone who watched the site closely over the last week, do you remember the odds for the actual winners, Thomas J. Sargent and Christopher A. Sims?
The Danish policymakers who implemented the world’s first “fat tax” last week are remarkable not for their directness in addressing the growing Western challenge of obesity, but for their indifference to the plight of the poor, their deference to political correctness at the cost of economic efficiency, and their willingness to punish certain segments of society.
The Danes may have been the first, but headlines throughout the western world assessed the likelihood of other countries to follow, including this one. A fat tax in the U.S. (or the U.K. for that matter) would add to the growing thicket of regulations across local and federal jurisdictions intended to address weight gain and the external costs that obesity imposes on society— both through higher private insurance premiums and ballooning government outlays for the uninsured.
Whether the tax will improve health outcomes is an empirical question that won’t be answered for several years or more. Read More »
Next Monday, the Nobel Prize Committee will announce the recipient(s) of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. If you think you know who’s going to score this year’s prize, head on over to Harvard’s Nobel Pool, “the world’s most accurate prediction market.”
Each entry will cost you $1; all entries and bets must be received by 11:59 PM on Sunday, October 9th. If you’re looking for inspiration, past predictions can be found here. And if you haven’t already, listen to our Freakonomics Radio podcast, “The Folly of Predictions,” to find out where we stand on the whole notion of predictions.
So Freakonomics readers, who are you betting on?
Our friend Joshua Gans, along with some colleagues, has launched a new blog devoted to the economics of digitization called digitopoly.org. Here, in a guest post, he explains the origins of the site, and what it’s all about.
By Joshua Gans
Some of the most popular blogs are tech blogs (Gizmodo, Engadget, TechCrunch) or blogs that place a tech perspective on social commentary (e.g., BoingBoing). And, as we know, economics blogs also tend to be popular. What was missing though was a blog devoted to the economics and competitive issues that arise in the digital age. What’s more, thanks to the NBER’s new Program on the Economics of Digitization (funded by the Sloan Foundation), there is a wealth of new research in this area. That’s how we came to setup a blog devoted to digital issues from an economics perspective. Read More »
In conjunction with our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “The Folly of Prediction,” I decided to reach out to a former professor of mine, Raymond Horton, whose modern political economy class is a student favorite at Columbia Business School. I wanted to know what Horton thought the worst prediction ever was, particularly regarding the intersection of politics and economics. He immediately pointed to a Foreign Affairs essay written by Mortimer Zuckerman in 1998, in which Zuckerman boldly lays out the case that, like the 20th century, the 21st will also be marked by American dominance.
We’re barely a decade into the new century, so you may think it’s too early to pass judgment on Zuckerman’s prediction. But given the way things have played out over the last several years, it does look to be on shaky ground. At least that’s the opinion of Ray Horton.
Once you’ve finished reading Horton’s essay, we’d love to hear what you think count as some of the worst predictions ever. Read More »