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melian

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Problems with objective evaluation of government policies. Part I. The unemployment data paradox
You are missing the point of the article – it is not about whether the particular policy of the current administration is generally good or bad. In one of your recent posts you suggested that the ideal of democracy should be holding politicians ... read more

Problems with objective evaluation of government policies. Part I. The unemployment data paradox
What does n in your comment stand ... read more

Why is the crime rate so high in Venezuela?
This is an interesting question, but there may be no simple answer to it. If one looks at the world crime map, demographics seem an obvious suspect. Most countries with a similar demographic composition have a homicide rate way above the world ... read more

Will election of a republican president result in actual right-wing policies?
Apart from that do you think that an administration under Hillary Clinton would be substantially different than the Obama administration?
Hard to say. Many people expect Hillary to be similar to her husband who was essentially a centrist and ... read more

Will election of a republican president result in actual right-wing policies?
I suspect that most Republicans (including those who dislike Trump) do not rank HRC personal integrity significantly above Trump. In any case, it is fear of impeachment rather than personal integrity that usually restrains most presidents from ... read more

Will election of a republican president result in actual right-wing policies?
I guess the definition of right-wing includes warmonger for this post?
Given that there are millions people who either consider themselves right-wing or are considered right-wing by others it is not possible to make them all fit the same ... read more

Should the ideal of democracy be about holding politicians accountable?
good policy record on the other hand isn't easy to fake
Is there an objective way to decide whether a politician’s record is good or not? For example, how could you objectively judge the outcome of Ronald Reagan’s or Bill Clinton’s ... read more

Two Malthusian scares
The storage costs for oil are quite high and its price is even more volatile than gold. So in times of high inflation, does not it make more sense to invest in gold (or other precious metals) rather than in oil or phosphates? ... read more

The one thing that Trump has in common with Berny Sanders is trade
He thinks that if he treathens a trade war countries like Mexico and China will fold because their leaders don't want deep economic crisis.
There are two possibilities: 1) Trump really thinks that. 2) He tries to win more voters with ... read more

The one thing that Trump has in common with Berny Sanders is trade
The trade war between the US and the rest of the word would result in a deep economic crisis that would hurt all sectors of economy (including real estate). Most Trump’s supporters have no knowledge of how economy really works, but it would ... read more

The one thing that Trump has in common with Berny Sanders is trade
Unlike Sanders, Trump seems to be a pure opportunist with no real ideological commitment. I suspect that most of his campaign promises (such as making Mexico to pay for the wall or starting a trade war with China) are only made to appeal to voters ... read more

What can Berny Sanders do when there's a Republican congress?
I think you might be projecting European attitudes to America. There are certainly people in the US who would enthusiastically support any legislation against the big business, but most of them are already committed Sunders’ supporters. The ... read more

Should UK, Belgium, Spain or Italy split into several countries?
I was referring to the fact that Scots get considerable autonomy in deciding their own matters, while getting more than an equal vote in general elections (the average size of constituencies in Wales is 56,628 and in Scotland 65,475, whereas the ... read more

Can competition be created in an education market of perfect irrationality?
This is an excellent question. I don’t have a perfect solution, but here are a few observations:
  1. The main problem is that ignorance is not limited to consumers - the “experts” are ignorant as well. Very little is currently known about what
... read more

Should UK, Belgium, Spain or Italy split into several countries?
As far as Belgium goes, the French part could go to France, the Dutch part to the Netherlands and the few German town to Germany.
A Belgian acquaintance of mine told me once that the Flemish and the Walloons would have split a long time ago if it ... read more

Should UK, Belgium, Spain or Italy split into several countries?
My question referred to the separatist movements in Scotland, Catalonia etc. Btw, how does one decide whether a country is already small ... read more

Trump Says He Will Force Apple to Manufacture in the US Even Though That Makes Absolutely No Sense
Trump is a political opportunist who used to support Democrats (among other things he made six digit donations to Clintons' foundation). So it seems more likely that Trump simply tells his potential voters what they want to hear. Protectionism ... read more

Do most charities have negative utility?
Do you know how the data for this graph was obtained? I wonder if the trend I see in this graph (middle income group donates the lowest fraction of its income) is ... read more

Beating a 'Yes Minister' system
Why would Trump go after Hillary’s base? In the primaries, Republican candidates don’t really need the Democrat’s base and vice versa. And assuming both win the nomination, should not it be the independents that both candidates need to go after? ... read more

Beating a 'Yes Minister' system
My point was that with regards to lying HRC is no different from ... read more

Beating a 'Yes Minister' system
I don't think that what Hillary says is significantly more false than the campaign of George Bush with Karl Rove's 100% truth test.
Off the top of my head - how about her claim about landing in Bosnia under sniper ... read more

Beating a 'Yes Minister' system
I don't think "Yes Minister" has something to do with the burocracy being leftist.
In democracies, government employees tend to support the left (though there are exceptions, such as police). In a large part this is just economic self-interest. ... read more

Why are Education and Health Care Outcomes So Bad in the United States?
Apart from that optimizing for numbers of patents is a bad idea. It results in a lot of bogus patents getting granted.
Sure. But is there a plausible reason to expect that the proportion of bogus patents is higher for people who had higher SAT ... read more

Why are Education and Health Care Outcomes So Bad in the United States?
You mat find this data interesting. Assuming that the number of patents is a good proxy for innovativeness, there is a strong correlation between innovativeness and the test scores at the age of ... read more

Why are Education and Health Care Outcomes So Bad in the United States?
Japan produces a lot of students who successfully answer question about the English language in tests but who aren't fluent English speakers.
Do you mean oral or written tests? A person may learn a language to point when he reads books pretty ... read more

Why are Education and Health Care Outcomes So Bad in the United States?
Do you happen to know the data source by any chance? I’m sure this is true for some ethnicities (such as Indian and Chinese Americans) but is it also true for descendants of Swedish or Finn ... read more

Why are Education and Health Care Outcomes So Bad in the United States?
“Conservatives tend to blame poor education results on the fact that it almost fully government controlled, while liberals tend to blame poor healthcare results on the fact that it isn’t fully government controlled.” This is the precisely root ... read more

What's more important Laffer Curve or Income Inequality?
Suppose the economists could precisely calculate each individual’s happiness for different redistribution policies. Then you would be able to choose a policy that maximizes happiness for any population set. The question is how this set is to be ... read more

Open Thread
I may be more ignorant than an average Omnilibrium member but I have not read any of these books. Of the three authors you named I’ve read only one (“The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” by Max Weber which I found a bit tedious). Did ... read more

George W. Bush is smarter than you
There have been suspicions that GWB deliberately cultivated anti-intellectual image. Most democrats did not realize it but every time they made fun of his pronunciation they may have been helping him to win the blue dog ... read more

Open Thread
Can you give some examples of the kind of books that you have in ... read more

On myths about education
Arguing that we should make it easier to get an abortion because of the Freakonomics reasons likely would be more favored by the left.
I don’t have the stats, but in my experience people openly advocating easier access to abortion for ... read more

Integration of Muslim Immigrants: US vs. Europe
Both the Mexican immigrants in the US and the Muslim immigrants in Europe occupy lower socioeconomic positions than the rest of the population. But I’m not sure what you can make out of ... read more

Integration of Muslim Immigrants: US vs. Europe
There is no contradiction between the Pew data and the numbers I quoted. The point of the article is not that Muslim immigrants in the US do better than Hindus or Buddhists, but that they do better than Muslim immigrants in ... read more

Finland wants to give every adult a basic income of 800 euros a month
I think the main idea behind the reform is to encourage chronically unemployed people to start working. Until finding a job meant losing unemployment ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
If they could, they'd be doing it already
They are doing it already. In the recent years, US software companies opened many development centers in India and other countries, sometimes directly outsourcing jobs previously done in the US. Without ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
Obviously companies are interested in lowering wages regardless of how competitive they are. But having an incentive to lie is not equivalent to lying. What makes you think the companies would not outsource jobs to countries with lower wages if you ... read more

Should the US radically increase spending on Voice of America
People who persue the news for entertainment might only consume news from one newssource but stakeholders in a society who actually act based on the information and who want to inform themselves read broadly.
I don’t see much point in telling the ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
the company would never sponsor him for immigration in the first place
The companies would simply insert a contract clause requiring employees who switch jobs to repay the costs of their visa or even require new employees to pay the costs upfront. ... read more

What's more important Laffer Curve or Income Inequality?
Singapore can spend less on wellfare policies because it has laws that force it's citizen's to provide welfare to family members without a job.
Do you happen to have a ... read more

What's more important Laffer Curve or Income Inequality?
Norway collects 44% of its GDP in taxes and spends a large share of it on welfare policies. Singapore collects 14% of its GDP in taxes and spends almost none of it on welfare policies. In Norway there were 572 personal computers per 1000 people ... read more

Should the US radically increase spending on Voice of America
While the Russian's do have internet, most of them don't speak English and can't consume any English media.
They don’t need English media. There are plenty of anti-government websites in Russian some of which regularly publish ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
Suppose an Indian programmer that in India gets $20K a year moves to the US where he gets $80K for a job for which the natives get $120K. Now you allow him to change jobs. There are only two possibilities: 1) There is a company that would be ... read more

Should the US radically increase spending on Voice of America
Voice of America may have been useful in the former USSR whose citizens did not have direct access to the western media. Back then the Voice of America and its European analogs were the only alternative to the official propaganda. These days ... read more

Should the US radically increase spending on Voice of America
The link in your comment does not mention ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
I don't understand how letting the immigrants to change jobs freely would reduce their number. Would not they be even more motivated to move to the US? Also, it is not obvious to me that immigrant programmers lower salaries for the natives. ... read more

Should fundamental science be funded by international agencies?
Empirically I don't think we see that states don't fund basic science because of freeriding concerns.
The states do fund science but since their main motive appears to be national prestige, they may be investing significantly less resources ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
If my assessents of situations would be strongly colored by political sympathies, I likely wouldn't have said what I said about South Africa or take a variety of positions that I do take.
Our minds are not a binary - either totally objective ... read more

Should fundamental science be funded by international agencies?
My proposal would be that a researchers grant money is reclaimed (100%) and given in part (10%) to the researcher that finds it shoddy or fraudulent.
You would probably need an army of lawyers for that, as there are no clear rules for deciding ... read more

Should fundamental science be funded by international agencies?
True. But my impression is that since the Cold War ended there has not been much competition between different countries anyways. It may also be possible for countries to make a joint effort while simultaneously increasing the level of competition. ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
you wanted to label me as right-wing for my description about the situation in South Africa
I certainly did not intend to label you as right-wing. All my comment was meant to say is that your views do not perfectly fit the left-wing box as you ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
More like Democrats what to prevent voter ID laws
I don’t think it has to be one or the other. Also, I suspect that if the situation was reversed and most voters without valid IDs supported Republicans, both parties would have switched their ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
I would expect that if you do unconscious racism test you will get a result that correlates with wanting to secure borders.
I’m sure you realize that expectations are not objective evidence.
Voting democrat correlates with openness to experience
... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
among certain demographics xenophobia is strong and therefore border security polls well. That makes Republican politicians talk about it in front of elections.
Since the Republican electorate comprises about half of the population, I’m sure it ... read more

Donald Trump and the Methods of Rationality:    Part I. Deconstructing Political Motivations
No politican campaign on his new gerrymandering plan.
Politicians do not openly campaign for gerrymandering, since doing so would appeal only to the hardcore supporters of their party. In districts where such people form the majority ... read more

Should Mass Shootings be Politicized?
Is there an alternative? There is very little common ground between political parties on this issue. In the NYTimes article on the recent shootings in Paris the most upvoted comment blames it on the ... read more

Is there a scientific way to prove or disprove discrimination in the academy?
This article may be ... read more

Tit for Tat in US politics
If this goes unanswered, does it mean the republicans are just the lapdog opposition?
Perhaps, there is simply nothing that Republicans can retaliate with? The judicial branch tends to favors Democrats more (70% of lawyers donations goes to ... read more

Should atheists support teaching both evolution and creationism in schools?
In the US, doctors often recommend the vaccine even to the young and healthy people and it is frequently advertised and sold in supermarkets. Also, based on the last meta-study I've read (admittedly this was several years ago) the benefit of ... read more

What is the True Islam?
all but a statistically negligible minority of those who fall under 'Islam' in his country say "we would prefer that IS are denied the label 'Islamic'"
According to polls about half of the UK muslims might be supporters of ISIS ... read more

Is there a scientific way to prove or disprove discrimination in the academy?
The problem is that there seem to be no such tests. The performance of academics is typically evaluated by very subjective parameters, such as citation ... read more

What's in a name?
Goebbels was very fond of this practice. He invented terms like Reichskristallnacht.
Do you happen to know a reference for this? According to the wikipedia article (which does not cite its source), "the prefix Reichs- (imperial) was later added ... read more

More Oil Companies Could Join Exxon Mobil as Focus of Climate Investigations
Too be honest the case of against tobacco was overwhelming. Smokers were 25x more likely to get lung cancer.
I think we need to separate the case against tobacco and the case against tobacco industry. If a person A pays a person B for a something ... read more

Should the "Best and Brightest" Go Into Finance?
Where they are paid the most is where they (generally) add the most economic value.
Do you think this applies to ... read more

More Oil Companies Could Join Exxon Mobil as Focus of Climate Investigations
Are sure Mcdonalds won a final victory? The first lawsuits against the tobacco industry were thrown out of courts, but the lawyers just kept trying until they succeeded. ... read more

Should Saudi Arabia be added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism?
Does a tax-cut qualify as ... read more

Does the end of military conscription threaten democracy?
An Emperor has a lot more leeway than a democratic politician
That’s a good point (to be fair, though, inadequate Roman emperors rarely died in their beds while inadequate consuls usually just lost ... read more

Health care wait time in Europe
The EU system with waiting lists produces better health outcomes.
Are there reliable statistics on ... read more

Should atheists support teaching both evolution and creationism in schools?
So I would favor gearing up for climatological engineering projects like pumping artificial volcanic gasses into the upper atmosphere in case strong measures are needed.
I think that climatologists do not yet understand how the climate works well ... read more

Require Legal Liability Insurance
Don't we already have single-payer defense? ... read more

Does the end of military conscription threaten democracy?
incompetence in actually paying for your military
I might be wrong but I think this type of problems was more characteristic of the imperial period. The Sulla’s march on Rome did not happen because the soldiers were not paid.
democratic
... read more

Is private gun ownership harmful? How harmful?
Gun ownership significantly increases suicide rates.
It certainly sounds plausible. But if this is true, would not countries where most males have access to guns (USA, Switzerland, Israel) have significantly higher suicide rates than other ... read more

Should atheists support teaching both evolution and creationism in schools?
I think part of the problem with getting action on global warming is that there exists a large group of people in the US and other countries that were already prepared to take any "consensus of the scientific community" with a grain of salt because
... read more

Should the public trust climatologists in the global warming debate?
What if the cost of action exceeds the likely damage from the ... read more

Should atheists support teaching both evolution and creationism in schools?
the school refusing to engage those arguments may give the impression that either the arguments are weak or that this is a prestige conflict
To be fair, with many people prestige signaling is much more effective than logic. So if the one’s only ... read more

Indonesia’s Fire Outbreaks Producing More Daily Emissions than Entire US Economy
There was a discussion here on a very similar topic. ... read more

Should the public trust climatologists in the global warming debate?
Suppose that based on climatologists’ advice, a politician proposes to spend X billion dollars of public money on the anti-GW policy. How would you decide whether this expense is ... read more

Should the public trust climatologists in the global warming debate?
That said, common sense tells me that pollution is bad regardless of whether or not it causes global warming, and I'd like to see it taken under control.
This is generally correct but CO2 emission may conceivably be an exception. Increasing CO2 ... read more

Japanese universities are ditching humanities and social sciences
Perhaps this is an ideal solution. Humanities and social sciences are heavily politicized, so it makes sense to keep the government out of them and leave the teaching to private ... read more

Should the public trust climatologists in the global warming debate?
The opposite biases might cancel each other if they were affecting the same group of people. However, if you have two groups with the opposite biases and neither group has much to lose from distorting the facts, then there is no reason to expect ... read more

Is pay discrimination possible in a laissez faire economy?
If some of the employers consistently underpay minority workers, would not the workers simply move to employers who pay everyone the same? ... read more

Does the end of military conscription threaten democracy?
It is true that in the Roman times generals had much more authority over their soldiers than in the modern democracies. However, limits on generals’ authority do not necessarily prevent military coups. In the recent century, plenty of elected ... read more

Five explanations of political divide in the academy
Do you have the numbers on the exact percentages? Would be interesting to look at.
According to Ladd&Lipset study, in the 1968-1972 period Democrats outnumbered Republicans 4:1 in humanities and social sciences. That ratio changed to 8:1 in 2003 ... read more

Five explanations of political divide in the academy
If idealism is the best explanation, how would one explain that there were a lot more right-wing professors in humanities and social sciences in the ... read more

Five explanations of political divide in the academy
Data on: how political beliefs change as professors shift in fields, between harder and softer sciences, and natural sciences and political sciences.
There are quite a few people who moved between related fields (for example, Keynes moved from ... read more

When can experts be trusted?
On the other hand, macro-economists' predictions seem to be pretty worthless.
I think economics is still in a transitional stage. It has the potential to become a real science, but it is not quite there yet (like astrology or alchemy which ... read more

Five explanations of political divide in the academy
This might be another difference between “soft” and “hard” sciences. I believe Feynman mentions somewhere (I’m sorry that I cannot give you the exact reference) that a physicist who wants to understand a complex phenomenon must identify the ... read more

Five explanations of political divide in the academy
While every social issue has multiple causes affecting it, one factor is often more important than all ... read more

Should Saudi Arabia be added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism?
While Saudi Arabia is very rich thanks to the oil exports, militarily it is very weak. Without the US support it would most likely have been conquered by another country (such as Iraq or Iran). With enough political will the US and EU could have ... read more

Five explanations of political divide in the academy
pharmacology: pharmacist or guy who gives product samples to doctors finance: hedge fund manager or excel jockey for large corporate quarterly report
It seems likely that just like university professors, the first category is preferentially ... read more

Major Gaps Between the Public, Scientists on Key Issues
My first guess was that the difference might be explained by peer pressure. Most 'grads+ science degree' work in a private sector where most of their colleagues lean towards republicans. Most AAAS members might have zero republicans among ... read more

Five explanations of political divide in the academy
Fivethiryeight put together a list.
How accurate is this data? Do people with degrees in nursing really earn more than with degrees in finance or ... read more

Major Gaps Between the Public, Scientists on Key Issues
According to the poll, the global warming is now a racial issue – most blacks and Hispanics believe in anthropogenic global warming, most whites ... read more

ClearerThinking’s Fact-Checking 2.0
I think several independent checkers might be a bit more reliable provided they do not share the same political beliefs. The problem with pointing out all falsehoods is that people are highly subjective in deciding what is false. For example, if a ... read more

ClearerThinking’s Fact-Checking 2.0
How can you make sure that commenters go equally hard on all speakers and their personal political sympathies do not affect their ... read more

Why trying to help poor countries might actually hurt them
I think one should distinguish between “government job” (which is whatever people with power to “fire” the government expect it to do) from government officials’ personal interests (which includes but not limited to maximizing profits).
British
... read more

Why trying to help poor countries might actually hurt them
“In order to have the funding to run a country, a government needs to collect taxes from its people. Since the people ultimately hold the purse strings, they have a certain amount of control over their government.” During the medieval period ... read more

Are there any arguments for wealth inequality being desirable?
In theory, individual priests did not own the tithes they collected. Also, in the last 1000+ years tithing was not voluntary in most ... read more

Should Gay Marriage Be Treated Like Heterosexual Marriage?
We've largely embraced an ideal that your demographic traits should not be held against you by the law.
This is a nice ideal, but I don't think we are anywhere close to it. There are still plenty of laws that take demographic factors into ... read more

Japanese universities are ditching humanities and social sciences
Do you mean that Marx inspired people to make revolutions or build social ... read more