Thursday, February 05, 2009


  • Massively collaborative mathematics (via Terry Tao). I count myself an idealist when it comes to such ideas, just as the author of this post, and there are some well argumented points therein, but... my more recent economics background takes me back to earth. So here's one main reason (there are others, linked particularly to the nature of problem chosen to be solved by way of such "massive collaboration") why I think this will not work out (in Maths or any other science, for that matter, Econ included): the costs (particularly time and effort to follow such discussions, not to mention trusting the person-- if at all-- to monitor it all etc) would far outweigh the benefits. Unless the persons participating are far more efficient than the average (in time management & co) and, perhaps crucially, are not concerned with career building any longer... Somebody like Terry Tao perhaps, to keep it to Maths, though he does not seem overenthusiastic either :-).

  • Nature editorial on a "scientific responsibility index". I think some of these indices do not have to do so much with the aggregate, such as a country/nation dimension (for instance, it is in my opinion almost ridiculous to claim that researchers from/in a certain country ought to feel in any way tarnished by other co-national researchers'--could be from other fields, other times etc-- lack of ethics, and thus by an eventual 'country science ethics index'...), but otherwise the article is on the right track... Via Razvan, on Ad Astra.

  • George Soros, with an interesting (and financially very informative) FT article entitled "The game changer" (plus an account of how well his own financial operations fared). Obviously I do not agree with all his points, for instance one paragraph I do not fancy is the following: "As it is, both the uptick rule and allowing short-selling only when it is covered by borrowed stock are useful pragmatic measures that seem to work well without any clear-cut theoretical justification." In fact, I think it is precisely because we do not have clear-cut justifications and lent ourselves too much to "pragmatic" experimentation, of whatever kind, is why we ended up here. One new such 'pragmatic' rule is not necessary better than a previous such 'pragmatic' rule :-). Thanks to Paul for the link!

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