Category Archives: Science and the scientific method

Harvard Business School’s Garbage In, Garbage Out “Gender Equity” Experiment

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 54 donors have already invested in our efforts to shed light on the dark and seamy corners of finance. Join us and participate via our Tip Jar or another credit card portal, WePay in the right column, or read about why we’re doing this fundraiser and other ways to donate, such as by check, as well as our current goal, on our kickoff post.

Readers may have taken note of a long article by Jodi Kantor in the Sunday New York Times magazine celebrating an experiment on the Harvard Business School graduating class of 2013.

The project was deemed a winner. More women students than ever graduated with academic honors. Student satisfaction levels also rose. Unfortunately, if you dig deeper, this “experiment” looks like a “garbage in, garbage out” exercise.

Read more...

Ilargi: Capitalism, A Norwegian Rat And Some Cockroaches

Yves here. Ilargi takes up one of our favorite topics, how the fetishization of numbers and measurement is at best misguided and at worst profoundly dysfunctional, as we discussed in a 2006 article, Management’s Great Addiction.

Read more...

The Global Race for Inventors

Yves here. I wonder if the pattern described in this article, which is basically a brain drain of inventors to the US, is playing a meaningful role in the degradation of public education in the US. Why do the elites need to care about home-grown “talent” if they exploit the investments in schooling made by other countries?

Read more...

Patrick Durusau: Social Security Numbers – Close Enough for a Drone Strike?

Yves here. It’s important to understand the scope and caliber of the police state apparatus that’s in place. The fact that it’s “dirty” meaning error-ridden and incomplete, is likely the big reason you have analysts like Edward Snowden with wide-ranging access. You still need humans to make connections and interpretations (and that introduces another layer for errors and plants to occur). And that also no doubt is used to justify even wider-ranging and more intrusive searches, such as NSA analysts listening to personal phone conversations of soldiers stationed in Iraq. That sort of casualness leads to abuses like NSA snoops inviting their colleagues to listen in on phone sex.

Read more...

Richard Alford: Trust in Economists?

By Richard Alford, a former New York Fed economist. Since then, he has worked in the financial industry as a trading floor economist and strategist on both the sell side and the buy side

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.

The supreme misfortune is when theory outstrips performance.

Leonardo da Vinci

Read more...

Nathan Tankus: Memo to Paul Krugman on the Eurozone – Read Your Own Research!

Normally, I’m a harsh critic of neoclassical economics and neoclassical economists. However, sometimes the most frustrating things about neoclassical economists is their lack of familiarity with neoclassical models (especially older ones) and current neoclassical research. Monday provided a rather extraordinary example of this trend: Paul Krugman is apparently not familiar with Paul Krugman’s research!

Read more...

Cathy O’Neil: The Rise of Big Data, Big Brother

By Cathy O’Neil, a data scientist and a member of the Occupy Wall Street Alternative Banking Group. Cross posted from mathbabe

I recently read and article off the newsstand called The Rise of Big Data, It was written by Kenneth Neil Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger and it was published in the May/June 2013 edition of Foreign Affairs, which is published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). I mention this because CFR is an influential think tank, filled with powerful insiders, including people like Robert Rubin himself, and for that reason I want to take this view on big data very seriously: it might reflect the policy view before long.

I’m glad it’s not all rainbows and sunshine when it comes to big data in this article. Unfortunately, whether because they’re tied to successful business interests, or because they just haven’t thought too deeply about the dark side, their concerns seem almost token, and their examples bizarre.

Read more...

You Are a Guinea Pig: Americans Exposed to Biohazards in Great Uncontrolled Experiment

By David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, the co-authors and co-editors of seven books and 85 articles on a variety of industrial and occupational hazards, including Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution and, most recently, Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children. Rosner is a professor of history at Columbia University and co-director of the Center for the History of Public Health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Markowitz is a professor of history at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Cross posted from TomDispatch

A hidden epidemic is poisoning America. The toxins are in the air we breathe and the water we drink, in the walls of our homes and the furniture within them. We can’t escape it in our cars. It’s in cities and suburbs. It afflicts rich and poor, young and old. And there’s a reason why you’ve never read about it in the newspaper or seen a report on the nightly news: it has no name — and no antidote.

Read more...

Philip Pilkington: Defrocking Reinhart and Rogoff – Controversy Ignores Fundamental Issues in the Use and Abuse of Statistical Studies

By Philip Pilkington, a writer and research assistant at Kingston University in London. You can follow him on Twitter @pilkingtonphil

Over the past week there has been some fuss over alleged inconsistencies found by the economists Herndon, Pollin and Ash in the famous 2010 Rogoff-Reinhart study on levels of government debt and its effects on growth. What is really interesting about the critique of Reinhart and Rogoff is that it raises the issue of just how contentious these studies are.

Read more...

Nathan Tankus: News Flash – North Korea is a Rational Actor

By Nathan Tankus, a student and research assistant at the University of Ottawa. You can follow him on Twitter at @NathanTankus (https://twitter.com/NathanTankus)

Sometimes debates that surround a country’s policies are about whether that country’s officials are taking the correct course of action. Other times, however, when a country is perceived as a virulent enemy, the attitude forms that their actions aren’t just wrong, they are irrational and crazy (it’s telling that in a society obsessed with rationality and the “rationality” of the market, our worst insult is “irrational”). As a result, it is radical and disreputable to argue that these countries are pursing their objectives in rational manner. North Korea is one of the best examples of this dynamic the post-war period has to offer. As such, I think it’s time to offer a disreputable opinion of North Korea.

Read more...

When “Culture” is the Best Explanation

By Rumplestatskin, a professional economist with a background in property development, environmental economics research and economic regulation. Cross posted from MacroBusiness

A recent blog post about ‘culture’ making a lousy explanation of social and economic phenomena sheds even more light on the bizarre culture that is economics.

Read more...

Philip Pilkington: Mistaking Men for Machines – How Neoclassical Economics Relies on Computer Science to Misunderstand Human Communication

By Philip Pilkington, a writer and research assistant at Kingston University in London. You can follow him on Twitter @pilkingtonphil

We have a lot to be thankful for today that we owe to Alan Turing – who is generally recognised as among the first, if not the first, computer scientist. But, on the other hand, we also have a lot that we can trace back to Turing that we should be in no way grateful for as it has filled our minds with stupidities and our universities with people talking nonsense. Without detracting from Turing’s undoubtedly important achievements we here focus on the latter and how some of Turing’s ideas came to infect the human sciences in general and economics in particular.

Read more...