Randomization is good

Researchers used LinkedIn to study the economic power of “weak ties.” It’s a fascinating topic and you can read about the study here. The New York Times reported on the study with the headline “LinkedIn Ran Social Experiments on 20 Million Users Over Five Years.” To put it charitably, that’s a very weird reaction. Stepping …

Some intellectual influences

I’ve been thinking about the perspectives and schools of thought that I came to in my formative years that, for better or worse, have shaped how I think about a wide range of things. I thought it’d be useful to sketch those out, if only for myself. They’re quite different from each other — some …

Behavioral economics in one chart

It’s sometimes claimed, not entirely unreasonably, that the research on cognitive biases amounts to an unwieldy laundry list. Just look at how long the list of cognitive biases is on Wikipedia. This frustration is usually paired with some other criticism of the field: that results don’t replicate, or that there’s no underlying theory, or that …

Prediction and resilience

In Radical Uncertainty, the authors make a common argument: Instead of trying to predict the future, you should prepare for a wide range of scenarios, including ones you can’t even fully articulate. You should become more robust or resilient: The attempt to construct probabilities is a distraction from the more useful task of trying to …

The German labor market

A paper by an MIT economist explains its unique features… Germany has less low-wage work and less inequality than the US, but more flexibility and lower unemployment than France. Germany—the world’s fourth largest economy—has remained partially insulated from the growing labor market challenges faced by the United States and other high-income countries. In many advanced …

Notes & quotes: ‘Radical Uncertainty’

I recently read Radical Uncertainty by the economists John Kay and Mervyn King. A few notes, then a bunch of block quotes that stood out to me… Notes I strongly disagree in practice with their argument against probabilistic reasoning. Only economists who’ve spent time in finance and business schools could possibly think that probability and …