Saturday, March 06, 2010

Weekend econlinks: The quest for perfection

  • Gelman writes a useful overview on causality and statistical learning (caveat lector: I have only read through Angrist and Pischke's book, among the three Gelman mentiones; that one is very well written, but aimed at junior graduate students at best: hence, the book's tag "an empiricist's companion" is overselling it; and that has nothing to do with Josh Angrist kindly "advising" me to change my PhD topic/focus, sometime in my beginning graduate years, because 'nobody serious would be interested in structural modelling' :-)). I guess I would position myself more within the “minority view” set, represented here by Heckman (I wouldn’t say that is really a "minority" within Economics alone, by the way), but the usefulness of these debates cannot be questionned. And an outsider's (to Economics) opinion, such as Gelman's, is always more than welcome. Related, the WSJ talks about statistical time travelling to answer interesting counterfactuals; I have a feeling I'll stick to my structural guns for now...

  • The ubiquitous problem with such academic et al rankings (which I brought over and over, including in earlier posts and articles, particularly concerning the academic ranking obsession in Romania, where they also-- still! -- have problems understanding that a publication 'anywhere in ISI' can be total nonsense) is that they try to rank overall, ie. over all disciplines, often over (too) long periods of time etc. The only meaningful hierarchies in science are those done on specific disciplines and, even better, subdisciplines, and over shorter periods of time, thus revealing top new places etc. Then, inter alia, one would not be able to claim that biological sciences are advantaged, since there would be a within-discipline focus. I haven’t heard a single serious (but plenty of marginal) scientist(s) stressing the relevance of the rank of her/his university/institution over that of her/his department/research group. Politicians and journalists should take note, too.

  • Gastronomic sacrilège: where have all the great cheeses gone-- roquefort, camembert, brie de Meaux, Saint-Félicien, gruyère, comté, münster, pont l’évêque, cantal, reblochon, tomme de Savoie, crottin de chavignol?! Worse, together with the cheese, soon gone might be oysters, and epsilon common sense... Quo vadis, France?

  • The most exciting scientific upshot I've heard about in a great while: explaining the tip-of-the-tongue moments. It comes finally clear (although at this stage I understand it is still just speculative/conjectural, and needs more testing) why polyglots (such as I like to consider myself...) have more of a problem in remembering specific words than people who use a single language: “ […] this kind of forgetfulness is due to infrequency of use; basically, the less often you use a word, the harder it is for your brain to access it." Good, I will feel much better when invoking 'lapsus memoriae' next time :-).

  • How very true, though my feeling is that the battle for the brightest junior (and not only) Economists is far from over. It is sadly not Europe overall that might offer an alternative for European economists (not a chance: for starters, Europe needs to cut that embarrasing red tape where academics depend on useless, worthless, ridiculous bureacrats, and to think of attractive real wages... ), but Canada and Australia, which look more and more like worthy competitors to the USA (top; the bulk is way worse than pretty much anywhere in western Europe) places (related, earlier).


Anonymous said...

Yummy marshmallows, I also like them :)

Sebi Buhai said...

M&M: Not that anyone was in doubt about that :-).

ana said...

Numele meu este Ana Zidarescu, redactor, editia online a ziarului Evenimentul Zilei. Caut romani stabiliti in strainatate pentru interviuri, in ideea de a promova diaspora romaneasca, tinerii romani şi experientele lor in lume, antreprenori, profesori, liber profesionisti etc. Daca esti de acord, nu ezita sa ma contactezi. Nu sunt in cautarea senzationalului, insa cred ca in spatele fiecarei povesti se poate ascunde ceva extrem de interesant pentru cititori. Fiecare are o poveste unica de relatat, pana la urma. Adresa mea de e-mail este
Pe 15 martie vom relansa site-ul, in care se afla si categoria Diaspora, dedicata romanilor din strainatate.
Asa ca daca te intereseaza sa-ti promovezi blogul, gratuit, ma poti contacta la adresa
Categoria Diaspora va fi relansata odata cu site-ul si va oferi, ca si pana acum, interviuri, stiri, articole si reportaje cu si despre romanii din lume.
Cred ca poate fi o oportunitate de promovare extrem de facila a site-ului tau si te va ajuta mult in cresterea notorietatii, avand in vedere ca avem peste un milion de cititori unici in fiecare luna. Astept un e-mail de la tine, indiferent de raspuns. Pe curand!

Sebi Buhai said...

Ana: comentariul tau nu prea intersecteaza tema (colectia de teme) a postului, dar, enfin, pana la urma nu am de ce sa refuz sa-l postez... Ai fi putut sa ma contactezi direct, adresele mele de email sunt publice.

Anonymous said...

However, you have to admit that the situation in Europe improved a lot compared to what it used to be. In Scandinavia that is particularly true. Having seen both worlds, I think I do not regret my choice for doing research in Denmark.
A Danish economist

Sebi Buhai said...

Nobody is denying that, with the caveat that there are European places where improvement is hard to be noticed. But indeed, let us say Scandinavia and Northern Europe in general, might be different. The problem is that you have to judge this relative to other parts, so it is not just the improvement here, but what is the status quo here versus status quo somewhere else, as you well know. And there are HUGE differences, in the features I mentioned in the post, and several others, which are not at all favouring the European institutes.

Of course, I am not going at all into issues of your preferences for Denmark, given you are Danish, I take it that you controlled for that...