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I have chosen this version for two reasons. One is for its musicality. But the other is that it includes the intro, which many versions don’t. A sign by a Chamber of Commerce is one of the images that are shown (notice that the apostrophe is in the right place). The first skyscraper shown is the Empire State Building and the second is the Chrysler Building.
This version was placed on youtube by musicinhistory.
This song is sung by others, such as Peter Yarrow and Tom Waits, but neither includes the intro.
Osborne, GDP, & Recession April 25, 2013Posted by Larry in economics.
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I am here simply going to repeat something I wrote some time ago on this subject.The media along with certain politicians and economists get all fired up about miniscule alterations in an index that may in itself be inherently flawed.
There may well be no referent for the term GDP (or GNP) that has any real sociopolitical relevance, in the sense in which it is generally used by mainstream politicians and economists. A number of economists and related scientists have wondered over the years whether certain general notions such as GDP, conceived as collections of a number of individual measurements of different factors, actually ends up referring to anything meaningful. Indeed, the factors whose measures that make up, say, GDP can be seen as problematic themselves. A read of Myrdal’s Against the Stream should convince anyone of this who is not already convinced otherwise.
More could be said about this, for example, that the collection of individual measures into collective measures involves more than composition fallacies, but I will have to leave this matter for another time.
Mass psychosis: an additional consideration April 25, 2013Posted by Larry in economics.
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As a number of people are familiar with the concept of psychosis, they invariably think it is caused by some sort of neurological or drug induced condition. When it comes in individuals per se, this is generally true. But when it comes to a large mass of people, possibly an entire social group, this causation link fails as a general explanation. While such explanations can work under particular circumstances, in the case at hand, that of austerity beliefs, it fails because the mechanism is implausible. Indeed, it is not necessary, and indeed otiose, to resort to such individual-centric explanations of such socio-cultural phenomena.
There are other ways of inducing functioning psychotic belief systems, particularly where the social system is organized in such a way that they do not interfere with daily life, indeed, sometimes they may be considered to enhance such life. Inculcating what is effectively a psychotic belief system, that is, one completely detached from reality, can be accomplished by means of social and cultural programming — that is, the programming of social behavior and conceptual (or mental) constructs such as values, beliefs, norms, and the like. (I have dealt with these conceptions in earlier posts, but I did elaborate on them possibly in rough form some time ago in the 1995 issue of the journal, Social Epistemology , in “A Reappraisal of the Concept of ‘Culture’”).
I doubt it can be plausibly argued that beliefs surrounding austerity can be considered in any sense to be life enhancing. If such an argument soundly showing that austerity is indeed life-affirming, contrary to what appears to be the case on the ground, as it were, I would be grateful to know what it is. (I am going to be a stickler and insist that a sound argument is one that is both valid and its premises true.)
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I have a number of complaints about Word press the most important of which is that they don’t care about complaints where certain features that once worked no longer work as they don’t transparently show you how to access their complaints procedure or how to get around the problem. I work in Firefox and so my complaints refer to that browser only. I don’t know what happens with other browsers.
First, a prpblem for which WordPress is not responsible for but which they have said nothing to their users about is that Firefox has problems displaying embedded youtube videos in the newer versions of Firefox outside of the youtube context. This problem is not universal but it is quite consistent.
Second, possibly related to this but WordPress does not seem to be able to easily embed youtube videos at all in one’s post in Firefox even after going through some arcane procedure that does not work. WordPress used to be able to do this easily. WordPress, their comments about how they care to the contrary, do not seem to do so.
The complaint section is worse than useless, unless your problem is of a legal nature. This is transparent and easily accessible. nothing else about the complaint process is.
Replicability Vs Reanalysis in Macroeconomics April 17, 2013Posted by Larry in economics, Logic & Theory of Theory Testing, Statistics.
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A recent furor has arisen about an analysis by Reinhart and Rogoff and a critique by Hernden et al. The discussion centers around data analysis and whether a piece of data analysis constitutes a reanalysis or is a replication of the original study. My response is to this issue. The relevant papers are (The first two are not links):
Reinhaart&Rogoff-GrowthInTimeOfDebt-AmericanEconRev-May2010 [arises out of their book];
http://images.politico.com/global/2013/04/17/reinhart_rogoff_response_to_herndon_ash_and_pollen_april_17.html [Reinhart and Rogoff provide the wrong year for this response, dating it as 2012 when it is obviously 17 April 2013.].
There is a logical problem with replicability in macroeconomics. Let me contrast for this purpose economics with ecology. Ecological studies can be divided into roughly two types, experimental and field studies. With experimental studies in most disciplines, with the exception of advanced physics which I will come to later, it is clear what must be done in order to replicate the study. Experimental ecological studies generally satisfy these requirements.
But with field studies, it is not always so clear. Say you are studying a particular insect with respect to a set of attributes in a particular environment. To replicate this study, you need to find another environment that is as similar to the original environment as possible and at the same time of year with the temperature being similar, &c. You can use the same environment the following year for replicability purposes, but this has its own down sides. Strictly speaking, you will not be able to truly replicate the original study, but you may be able to get as close as the theories that are being tested need you to be. And that is what counts.
In experimental physics, you will not generally find true replications. This is because they don’t usually need them. What is sometimes referred to as a replication is actually an attempt to improve on the original experiment, usually in terms of some measure of precision. Exceptions occur when the results appear to be “off the wall”, as was felt to be the case by the physics community at large re the original cold fusion experiments.
What you have in both empirical ecological and physical studies are samples of the relevant populations with all the statistical analytical implications that that brings with it. In economics, however, you are not always presented with data samples. Sometimes you are presented with what I shall refer to as the entire data universe. For instance, say you want to know what banks have in reserve. Instead of a sample of banks qua their reserves, you may be presented with the reserves (many of which may be estimates) of every single bank. This is not a sample but the entire population of bank reserves. This procedure precludes certain standard statistical techniques being used. But as is usually the case in economics, since no statistics are employed, this difference generally makes no difference.
As for the critique of the Reinhart and Rogoff study, I think what we have here is not a true replication, but a reanalysis of more or less the same data. A reanalysis would be undertaken if you thought that either the data were poor or badly organized or that there was an error made in the original analysis. A replication, as opposed to a reanalysis, would involve gathering “new” data of the same kind and subjecting this “new” data to the same or an improved version of the original analysis.
It could be argued, and has been by some, that replications are impossible in disciplines like economics as too many factors change from one temporal interval to another, thereby making it impossible to replicate the same or similar conditions. But since replications (and reanalyses) are tests of relevant theories, if the theories in question are any good, they should be able to “tell” the researcher whether such a replication is possible or fruitful or not. On the other hand, there should exist, in principle, no theoretical obstacles to a reanalysis of the original data set. All such tests take place within a given theoretical context, including those where the theories under test are virtually completely contradictory. This latter circumstance renders the test environment more difficult to specify but not thereby impossible.
With respect to the presentation of data, whether of the entire population or of a sample thereof, it used to be relatively common practice, for instance in the thirties, to include with the data an error estimate, often plus or minus some percentage. This no longer seems to be the case. Statistics has moved on from that period, but confidence intervals or their equivalent were common then and are now. Yet they do not seem to find their way into a good number of economic analyses, whether presented in tabular or in graphical form. And this is as true of the Reinhart and Rogoff studies as many others, although it is less applicable to the figures in the Hernden et al. study. Additional statistical issues related to the nature of the data themselves are more relevant in this case.
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In a discussion of Trident in tonight’s edition of Newsnight, Paxman claimed twice that Britain was broke. If this was a clumsy attempt to embarrass the Tory guest who supported Trident by contrasting paying for Trident, which experts and the MoD contend is an outmoded technology for dealing with today’s conflicts, while hammering the welfare budget, it didn’t work and the bait, it that was what it was supposed to be, wasn’t taken.
This approach doesn’t seem to be the best strategy: employ a gross economic falsehood as a tactic to embarrass or wrong foot a program guest whose opinons you possibly disapprove of. The best and most fruitful means of embarrassing or wrong footing people whose views you wish to expose is with the truth or at the very least a semblance thereof. You don’t achieve much by uttering a moronic falsehood.
If the UK was truly broke, as Paxman contended twice tonight, then it would be on the verge of insolvency if not actually insolvent and, therefore, unable to pay its current debts. And the credit agencies would be hovering around like vultures over a dying carcass. But Britain is nowhere near being in this situation and there is no likelihood whatsoever that it won’t be able to pay its debts, at least those that are denominated in its own sovereign currency, either now or in the future.
In making such an extraordinary statement, Paxman was either utilizing a poor political tactic or illustrating that he is economically illiterate. Shocking!
‘Logic’ of Sociopathy April 3, 2013Posted by Larry in Philosophy, Psychology.
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In a previous post, I briefly discussed and distinguished between true psychopathy and sociopathy. I will assume here that the concept of psychopathy is understood and concentrate on the concept of sociopathy, particularly as I define the term differently from Hare.
Hare defines “sociopathy” as behavior associated with a social group that is considered to be anti-social by a more inclusive group, which may consist of the entire society.
Although Hare does not explicitly mention social groups in his definition of psychopathy, the term could be defined as behavior considered to be extremely anti-social by the entire society, no matter what social role the individual is playing or what situation he is in. (Most of them are male.) According to my definition of sociopathy, sociopathic behavior is anti-social behavior carried out only in certain situations, such as work environments, or when the individual is playing certain roles, such as the role of the CEO. No essential reference is made to any social group.
According to both our definitions, there are more sociopaths than true psychopaths. Hare estimates that around 2% of the US population is psychopathic. There is evidence to suggest that true psychopathic behavior involves neurological alterations in the brain of the psychopath not found in the normal brain. Sociopathic behavior need involve no such neurological functionality. It may be completely situationally determined, or influenced. If the latter is the case, there will be a significant cultural component involved in bringing out sociopathic behavior in certain people (e.g., general ideas or particular beliefs concerning what is appropriate).
Experiments comparing so-called normal people with those diagnosed as psychopathic show distinct differences in reactions to emotional words. Certain kinds of cruel behavior has also been found in the teenage behavior of those diagnosed as being psychopathic. I will mention again that in order to properly diagnose someone as being a true psychopath, you need an immense amount of clinical and behavioral data over a number of years. This is often available for those who have been imprisoned. It is not so easily available for the organized psychopath who is not violent. Nevertheless, it can and has been acquired. For detailed, authoritative accounts, see Babiak and Hare, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (2007) and Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (2005).