Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Illusion of Competence

This may explain why Duke's Lit Department has a "Political Economy" Program.

Or why I think I am really, really good at Putt-Putt Golf.  That sort of thing.

The Curse of Expertise: When More Knowledge Leads to Miscalibrated Explanatory Insight 

Matthew Fisher & Frank Keil
Cognitive Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Does expertise within a domain of knowledge predict accurate self-assessment of the ability to explain topics in that domain? We find that expertise increases confidence in the ability to explain a wide variety of phenomena. However, this confidence is unwarranted; after actually offering full explanations, people are surprised by the limitations in their understanding. For passive expertise (familiar topics), miscalibration is moderated by education; those with more education are accurate in their self-assessments (Experiment 1). But when those with more education consider topics related to their area of concentrated study (college major), they also display an illusion of understanding (Experiment 2). This “curse of expertise” is explained by a failure to recognize the amount of detailed information that had been forgotten (Experiment 3). While expertise can sometimes lead to accurate self-knowledge, it can also create illusions of competence.

Nod to Kevin Lewis.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Oh, She's Mad....

This is amazing.  Even WOMEN think that the default setting for women is "angry."

Is She Angry? (Sexually Desirable) Women “See” Anger on Female Faces 

Jaimie Arona Krems et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Intrasexual conflict may pose unique challenges for women. Whereas men’s aggression tends to be physical and direct, women’s tends to be relational and indirect, particularly when directed toward other women. Moreover, women’s expressions of anger are often suppressed, perhaps particularly when other women are the targets. Thus, women may face difficulty anticipating anger and anger-based aggression from other women. How might women manage this challenge? The functional projection of emotion may facilitate useful behavior; for instance, “seeing” anger on people believed to pose threats to physical safety may help perceivers preempt or avoid physical harm. Given the threats that women face, we predicted that (a) women are biased to “see” anger on neutral female (but not male) faces and that (b) women who are likely targets of intrasexual aggression (i.e., sexually desirable or available women) show an exaggerated bias. We report three studies that support these hypotheses and, more broadly, illustrate the value of a functional approach to social cognition.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What state has the most dangerous toddlers?

If you are in Missouri (good lord, why?) and you see a toddler....


There are more shootings by toddlers in Mizzou than any other state in the Union!

Here's the map to prove it.

I am so impressed with Arkansas. Zero! Must have mandatory safety lessons there before giving carry permits to the toddler crowd.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lord, Forgive the Economists, For They Know Not What They Do

A remarkable disruption in the force.  How anyone could understand the complex rules of threat, deterrence, and protection as "profit-maximizing" per se is beyond me.  But it does illustrate how bizarrely intellectually impoverished economics is as a field.

Fighting as a profit maximizing strategy in the National Hockey League: More evidence 

Duane Rockerbie 
Applied Economics, forthcoming 

Abstract: This article estimates the effect of fighting in hockey games on attendance in the National Hockey League (NHL) over the 1997–1998 through 2009–2010 seasons. After estimating a system of equations developed from a model of a profit-maximizing club owner, it was found that fighting had a small negative effect on attendance implying that encouraging fighting on the ice is not a profit-maximizing strategy. The results are quite robust when incorporating capacity constraints on attendance and exogenous ticket pricing. Other factors that determine club performance and market size were found to significantly affect attendance. The empirical results also suggest that NHL club owners are maximizing profit.

Look, folks, hockey fights, like stylized fights in the animal kingdom, prevent actual violence and injury.  Having specialized goons makes the game cleaner.  And, in equilibrium, there is less violence.  Selecting on instances of violence and then drawing inferences is not just a misunderstanding of hockey, but a show of ignorance of basic game theory.  If you have a reputation for effective violence, you won't have to fight.  And you won't get that stick handle poke-check to your star forward's chest, breaking his rib.  Gretzky pretty much never got touched.  'Cause if he did, there would be a fight.  Gretzky wouldn't fight, and not because he was a pussweiler.  Gretzky didn't fight because he was too valuable, TO BOTH TEAMS.  Nobody wanted Gretzky hurt, and someone who hurt Gretzky was gonna get an ass-whuppin'.  Knowing that, the "no violence" equilibrium could be supported.

For a Canadian (and Duane Rockerbie is clearly a Canadian, eh?) to make this mistake is even more inexcusable.

For those seeking enlightenment, the answer (as always) is one of my appearances on EconTalk.  This one, in fact.  This recent book does a nice job of discussing when violence is "virtuous."  And, like any literate people, they know enough to reference EconTalk as THE authoritative source. Or, something like that.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday, October 12, 2015


People, the Nobel Prize in Econ went to Angus!!!!!! OMG OMG. Take THAT, Munogwitz!

What's that you say? It's not OUR Angus?

But look at this quote:

“You’ve got a line that no one knows where to put it, PPPs that change, and underlying data that is bad,” he said. “It is sort of a statistical problem from hell.”

Are you sure it's not our Angus?

Seriously, big congratulations to Angus Deaton on a well deserved award.

Also big congrats to the Swedes for giving the thing to a single recipient two years in a row. That Fama, Shiller, & Hansen deal a couple of years ago was a hot mess.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Markets in Everything

How many ships would a shipping ship ship,
If a shipping ship could ship ships?

This shipping shipping ship seems to ship all the shipping ships!  Though, it's really a barge.  How many shipping ships would a shipping ship barge ship if a shipping ship barge could ship ships, then.