August 2013


EconLog has had good guest bloggers. Eric Crampton did it at one time, he can now be found at Offsetting Behaviour. David Henderson was supposed to be a guest but became permanent, and while his content tends to rather generic libertarianism (with perhaps some extra emphasis on pacifism and the rare detour into monetarism) I’m glad of his presence due to the store of anecdotes he’s accumulated in his time, and his thoroughgoing Canadian niceness which contrasted with bitter former co-blogger Arnold Kling (and fellow Canuck Steve Williamson come to think of it). Garrett Jones was one of those people on Twitter who needed to start a regular blog, and had some good stuff, but I was disappointed that he often brought up Real Business Cycle stories when he himself had earlier explained how RBC no longer fits the “stylized facts” of the economy. More recently Alberto Mingardi and Art Carden joined, with both mostly serving up generic libertarianism without necessarily much economic content. Distributed Republic is no more (when trying to read an old post I got an exceeded bandwidth notice, not sure if anything changed to cause that), but I’m sure there are plenty of other generic libertarian sites they could contribute to. As it is they don’t seem to be part of the same econblog “conversation” I expect from the site. It’s almost enough to make me miss Kling, since his fondness for persisting in views he knew to have negligible supporting evidence at least got him in some arguments with other bloggers. Almost.

Gene Callahan regards that story as largely mythical. Those knowledgeable about the past are invited to toss in their two cents.

This isn’t “frequency illusion” because my subjective frequency is unchanged, but the “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon” is likely making this diavlog on the psychology of optimistic bias more salient. That’s because I was reading a bit of  Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast & Slow” yesterday concerning how good & bad moods affect System 1 vs System 2 thinking. The actual segment of the diavlog I linked to is titled “The optimal level of optimism”, but (as is made clear by the participants) that level is not “optimal” for accuracy. The depressed are known to be more accurate (this is called “depressive realism”) except in regard to the persistence of their depression. Tali Sharot claims in the link that the severely depressed are also less accurate, and that the mildly depressed are most accurate.

On the other hand, while searching on Overcoming Bias for support regarding “depressive realism” I came across this old post casting doubt on the concept.

On an unrelated note, Kahneman made a big deal out of priming in the book, beginning with the experiment where the word “Florida” causes people to walk slower (though he mentions later that those who dislike the elderly can react in the opposite way). He even says “You have no choice but to believe that you react this way”. So kudos to Kahneman that he has been so adamant about the need to replicate the priming studies in the wake of some failures to do so.

I’ve been quite delinquent in posting here due to procrastination over a book review which guilts me out of more active participation in the blogosphere. But this comment from Greg seemed to merit being made into a post of its own: (more…)