Conversation topics on Facebook by age.
Posts tagged with data
The word “statistics” was a coinage of German and Italian enthusiasts for state action in the early eighteenth century…..
It became a sort of insanity….[tourists]…Samuel Johnson…. By the 1850’s the conservative critics of capitalism, such as Charles Dickens, were becoming very cross about statistics….
Counting can surely be a nitwit’s, or the Devil’s, tool. Among the more unnerving exhibits in the extermination camp at Auschwitz are the books in which Hitler’s willing executioners kept records on every person they killed.
The formal and mathematical theory of statistics was largely invented in the 1880’s by eugenicists (those clever racists at the origin of so much in the social sciences) and pefected in the twentieth century by agronomists (…Iowa State…). The newly mathematised statistics became a fetish in the wannabe sciences. During the 1920’s…sociology…quantification was a way of claiming status, as it became also in economics…(political economy), and in psychology, fresh[ly] separated from philosophy. In the 1920’s and 1930’s…social anthropologists…counted coconuts.
Incomes of the top .01%, 1915–2008 in France and United States
from the interactive The Top Incomes Database —
- $150 billion per year is spent on text messaging.
- Recorded music is a $17 billion market
- Yearly box office receipts are $32 billion
- Video games $7 billion
(And the SMS market was created completely by accident.)
Some people think of postmodernism as the rejection of the existence of objective facts. Another take is that po-mo comprises broader methods of getting one’s point across than didaction. For example: joking, insinuating, or ending sentences with question marks.
For example this sarcastic remark:
A theory is something which nobody literally believes except the person who invented it. An experiment is something which everybody literally believes except the person who invented it.
pokes fun at what a different conversational mode might wax about in general terms such as “human frailty” or “fallibility”—or sound like a stronger attack on the scientific method than it intends to be.
It’s natural to express scepticism when an expert or supposed expert disagrees with something that makes complete sense to you. (I owe ya a post called “The rigid rod of modus tollens & modus ponens”.) ”Says who?” is a sentence anyone can utter. You could view “the scientific method” as one way to respond to that criticism. But is it the only way?
Some (postmodern?) anthropologists and ethnographers begin their essays on people who are foreign to them by discussing their biases and where generally they’re coming from. Which may be a more appropriate response to scepticism with non-experimental data—a different way of addressing the same problem that repeatable double-blind experiments are supposed to, namely errors in judgment by the observer/researcher.
Economists have field-specific ways of addressing problems inherent to what they study. These include models, stylised facts, stating own biases, statistics, and rebuttals against the statistical analysis. But also self-questioning sarcasm. For example
The questions in economics never change. Only the answers do.
When we leave our closet, and engage in the common affairs of life, [reason’s] conclusions seem to vanish, like the phantoms of the night on the appearance of the morning; and ‘tis difficult for us to retain even that conviction, which we had attain’d with difficulty.
The Economics Nobel confers upon the laureate an appearance of expertise which in economics no one ought to possess.
I don’t think “a postmodern economics” needs to be “post-autistic” or revolutionary or hip in the ways I’ve seen suggested by heterodoxists. It could simply be the recognition that informal speech like sarcasm can be on the same level of importance as speeches, lectures, claims, statements, and pontifications.
An interesting story about industrial rail in the United States. About 20 mins. From The Economist.
- Europe has an impressive and growing network of high-speed passenger links
- America’s freight railways are one of the unsung transport successes of the past 30 years.
- Before deregulation America’s railways were going bust. … By 1980 a fifth of rail mileage was owned by bankrupt firms.
- Since 1981 productivity has risen by 172%, after years of stagnation. Adjusted for inflation, rates are down by 55%
- Coal is the biggest single cargo, accounting for 45% by volume and 23% by value.
- since 1990 the average horsepower of their fleet has risen by 72%
- [since 1990] the number of ton-miles per (American) gallon of fuel [rose] from 332 to 457—an improvement of 38%
- But the fastest-growing part of rail freight has been “intermodal” traffic: containers or truck trailers loaded on to flat railcars. The number of such shipments rose from 3m in 1980 to 12.3m in 2006, before the downturn caused a slight falling back.
- one freight train can carry as much as 280 lorries can
Since the onset of the Great Recession, 24 bonds that were rated, intended to finance essential services, and backed by tax revenues, have defaulted.
Among Moody’s rated municipal bonds, there have been only 3 school district defaults and two utility defaults since 1971.
Bond insurance was present in at least 5 of the 8 most significant defaults since 2009.
Breckinridge Capital Advisors, quoting Municipal Market Advisors, Default Trends, 5 June 2012.
A while ago I was naïvely wondering how you would compare financial risks in investing in sovereign bonds, municipal bonds, corporate bonds, versus equity risk in public stock markets.
Spurred by wondering why anyone would lend to the United States Treasury when the rates are so, so low. (That question came from reading op-eds about austerity, fiscal cliffs, and so on—where someone inevitably brings up that the US can borrow for free so it shouldn’t worry about its short-term deficit. Keyword “bond market vigilantes”) I mean, couldn’t you get much more money lending to pretty much anywhere else? Answer, found.
(although probably part of the answer is that US TSY, Bunds, and Gilts can soak up huge huge quantities, and there’s no “bank” where you can put a few hundred billion dollars.)