Friday, November 22, 2013

Links of the Week (22/11/13)

1. Richard Feynman on 'cargo cult science'
"... But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school--we never say explicitly what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated."

2. Willis (2013), When Nudges Fail: Slippery Defaults.
Inspired by the success of “automatic enrollment” in increasing participation in defined contribution retirement savings plans, policymakers have put similar policy defaults in place in a variety of other contexts... But how broadly applicable are the results obtained in the retirement savings context?

Evidence from other contexts indicates two problems with this approach: the defaults put in place by the law are not always sticky, and the people who opt out may be those who would benefit the most from the default...four boundary conditions on the use of defaults as a policy tool are apparent: policy defaults will not be sticky when (1) motivated firms oppose them, (2) these firms have access to the consumer, (3) consumers find the decision environment confusing, and (4) consumer preferences are uncertain. Therefore, policy defaults intended to protect individuals when firms have the motivation and means to move consumers out of the default are unlikely to be effective unless accompanied by substantive regulation. Moreover, the same is likely to be true of “nudges” more generally, when motivated firms oppose them

3. Regression Discontinuity Porn

4. Milanovic (2013), Global Income Inequality by the Numbers: In History and Now, World Bank Research Department

No comments: