Week Review #1

Following Slate Star Codex I’m tracking my links and posting them to refer back to in the future.

I.) The S&P500 doesn’t seem to be sensitive to variations in Trump’s probability of wining (based on prediction market trends). This difference between what the marginal investor thinks, and what non-investors suggest will happen, is some sort of puzzle. The New York Times on the other hand claims the market could lose up to 10% based on debate data. The first paper, by Sweet, Ozimek, and Asher, uses a more formal econometric approach.

The NYtimes article is a little more haphazard. Extrapolating a small change, based on the after-hours and illiquid S&P500 futures market. Plus, this implies the current market price is in equilibrium with the current expectation of Trump winning (let’s be incredibly conservative and say 20-30%). If this is true, shouldn’t it have already plummeted on that expectation over the past ~6 months?

Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex would (almost surely) have agreed with the Marginal Revolution argument that there is, as of yet, no strong sign that Trump is bad for the market.

However, he has now officially has endorsed Clinton. He thinks she is less likely to fuck things up, even though she sucks. And our main goal has to be to keep the world stable so scientists can create a super-intelligence AI and fix (rebuild) our genetic code.

2.) John Cochrane gave a great podcast on EconTalk on economic growth, based on a paper he presented to the congressional Budget Committee. He argues that over-regulation of our economy– a “death by a thousand cuts” — is to blame for slow growth. This is in contrast to views of low demand or that we have ‘run out of ideas.’

3.) Statistical Icon Andrew Gelman laid into NPR for their incredibly lazy science reporting. The ‘scientific’ paper NPR reported on had to do with how class separation on air planes results in anti-social behavior. His best line: “NPR will love this paper. It directly targets their demographic of people who are rich enough to fly a lot but not rich enough to fly first class, and who think that inequality is the cause of the world’s ills.”

4.) Reddit user provides very strong evidence that an interview with a “rebel” (Nusra) group in Syria was staged. He does this entirely on his own, documenting video evidence and cross-comparing it to other combat footage, maps, and landmarks, that were previously uploaded. By doing this he is able to place the rebel commander in a location no rebel ever captured.

We’re at a point where the amount of information being poured into the internet from Syria a.) Both too great (and sometimes too unimportant) for the government to care about. And b.) Too unstructured for any algorithmic model to digest. So rogue internet analysts can in some sense be near equals with the government.

In related news, here is a picture of ISIS’ currency

5.) Relatively new Bayesian textbook (with R applications) is lauded as top of the line. The first chapter has no real stats/code, but is an awesome read for its Philosophy of Science insights.

I’ve been going over some probability stuff, and made a note to remind myself of Chebyshev’s inequality. People frequently use standard deviation rules assuming a normal distribution, often when it’s nonsensical. The Inequality states: “In practical usage, in contrast to the 68–95–99.7 rule, which applies to normal distributions, under Chebyshev’s inequality a minimum of just 75% of values must lie within two standard deviations of the mean and 89% within three standard deviations.”

6.) The newest edition of Econ Journal Watch has a great article on political representation in academia and the failure of Gender Sociology to ever seriously consider biological differences.

If I’m optimistic I would say these articles, combined with the growth of Heterodox Academy, and the rationalist-sphere online, are keeping the goal of scientific inference alive. Still, it’s depressing that it’s heterodox and controversial to tell people “maybe men and women really are different in ways that make us uncomfortable.