Links (23)

Collection of papers and articles that I’ve spotted since my previous links post that seem interesting.

Before the usual links post, the yearly statistics, as usual. One more year, Nintil has received more views than the previous year:

Screenshot from 2018-12-26 19-22-52.png

Only one post I’ve written this year is among the most read: On the constancy of the rate of GDP growth, the rest are basically the Soviet Series and some very old posts in spanish. Visits this year (not counting visits that came from search engines) came mostly from twitter, followed by Marginal Revolution, Facebook, and Reddit, and then SSC, Patrick Collison’s blog, and Alexey Guzey’s.

Next post I’ll be posting will be about Mormons, and trying to see what correlates, and hopefully, what is causally related with, being one. For the first time, I’m going to release all the code that goes into analysing the data and producing the many figures and charts that forms part of Nintil’s signature style. This will apply to all future code and it is up in the OpenNintil  github repo already. Currently I only have the working code for the next post (still far from complete), but in principle it would allow anyone to replicate all I do straight from the sources.

Another one in the pipeline is about blockchain, with an attempted explanation for why are people more excited than they should.

Finally, next year in early February (1st to 9th) I’ll be visiting Washington(DC), New York, and San Francisco. In case anyone wanted to be disappointed when meeting the author of their favourite blog.

Now, the links post:

In defense of finance , I agree with the post in general with some caveats: I do think the finance industry is bloated in its current form, and that it is in need of heavy reform to make it work better for everyone, and reduce how prone it is to contribute to financial crises. A healthy finance system is one where there is no large scale maturity transformation, a function now widely believed to be the essence of what banks do. But this is a recent invention that arose only after banks were granted privileged that incentivises them to take on greater risks: Bank deposits financing mortgages or industrial loans is an aberration. Sure, that can be improved with regulations, but why not address the root cause? Letting banks fail (Apply a bail-in to them instead of a bail-out), and abolishing deposit insurance would be good starting points. [Universal brain]

Some cryptonihilism: 0% public success rate in blockchain applications, from a survey of a few firms that said they were using distributed ledgers.. There is little evidence of successful uses of it in the wild,w ith the usual caveats, Cryptokitties if one is willing to consider that, or the Santander OneFX payments platform. This is the most successful Blockchain application so far and no one has heard of it.

Inequality in the US has been overestimated, and likewise income stagnation for the non-rich has been overstated. The report linked in the MR post explains why this is so. In a way it comes down to the usual: definitions and adjustments for different factors in different ways.

The mind illuminated, a SSC book review. At least the second Scott does, and I find it really interesting. I definitely should try meditation.

Good review of Radical Markets – the best review so far-. Like the others before it, the author finds issues with the “markets in human capital” idea that the the authors of Radical Markets flirt with (but do not endorse). It may seem unfair to focus on this particular case, and it is not discussed at length in the book and the authors do not endorse it. Yet, given that it seems to be a logical extension of the philosophical commitments of the book, I differ. This is just like the organ transplant cases and utilitarianism, or the liar and Kant. Weyl and a coauthor (Zoë Hitzig) replies.

Wages of women and single men are similar throughout their lives. It is married men who outearn everyone else.

Feelings are bad for you(r reasoning), study finds. ht/ to Alex Tabarrok

Sam Bowman criticises a relatively bad Vox article that supports an increase in the alcohol tax in the US.

Bias in science: not. A study sends a bunch of papers with faked authors (different race and/or gender) for review by 412 scientists, no bias found there. Note that this is one study (remember the Moss-Racusin study), so this is one more bit, but not definitive, evidence, as usual.

Bias in the labour market: evidence that there might have been, against gays and lesbians.

DeepMind teams of 10 people proves better than the combined brainpower of the field of protein structure prediction, writeup here. This seems good if it’s a pointer that there are substantial unrealised gains in science that a given community of scholars has not seen yet.

A debate over the merits of Friston’s free energy principle. A presentation at Wired and a far better review of the relevant ideas at SSC . Nostalgebraist offers a critique.

Critical review of Prum’s book on sexual selection. Prum argued that sexual selection is driven by beauty alone, not good genes (that is, there is little or no signaling of fitness involved). The review argues that Prum’s theory is not a forgotten one (as he claimed), -agree with the claim that the good-genes theory is widespread and often assumed without enough evidence, and agree that indeed there is little evidence for it, but that Prum’s theory should not be accepted by default either.

A lengthy twitter thread, criticising Ethereum. A debate here.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

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