All Right. One More. I Gotta Correct the Record...
Yet More Superfreakonomics Blogging. Yes. I Know. I Know...

links for 2009-10-19

  • Steve Levitt: Tthere is something to be said for raising some skepticism about the current climate models and predictions…they are stated and restated as if they are fact, when in practice I suspect, and good scientists agree, that there is enormous uncertainty and things we cannot or at least could not know.
  • TMr. Crook is peculiarly unsuited to lecture anyone about silencing, shouting down, and questioning not only the judgment but the legitimacy of people whom he disagrees with. Perhaps he truly believes that there is some difference between “questioning the legitimacy” of one’s intellectual opponents, and coming out with vicious slurs like: "The Democratic party’s civil libertarians seem to believe that several medium-sized US cities would be a reasonable price to pay for insisting on ordinary criminal trials for terrorist suspects."... Here’s the more speculative bit, which you can take or leave as you like. Crook’s more loathsome rhetoric over the last year or so has been consistently reserved for those who want to see torturers and enablers of torture prosecuted. In a backhanded class of a way, I think this may possibly reflect well on him. I suspect that at some level he is genuinely conflicted between the standard DC bipartisan line on torture (that it is best to brush it all under
  • The lead overnight story on Mark Halperin's "The Page" features a photo of President Obama alongside U.S. currency. The text reads, "Red Ink Nation: Obama presides over $1.4 trillion deficit." The front page of the Washington Post tells readers, "Record-High Deficit May Dash Big Plans; $1.4 Trillion in Red Ink Means Less to Spend On Obama's Ambitious Jobs, Stimulus Policies." The New York Times' front page says, "$1.4 Trillion Deficit Complicates Stimulus Plans." Let's set the record straight here.... Halperin's report makes it seem as if the Obama administration deserves blame for the huge budget shortfall. That's demonstrable nonsense.... And finally, let's also not forget that it only makes sense to run large deficits given the circumstances. We're dealing with an economic collapse and two wars, following eight years in which we were led by "the most fiscally irresponsible president in the history of the republic."
  • ur main finding is that human capital accumulation strongly amplifies TFP differences across countries: To explain a 20-fold difference in the output per worker the model requires a 5-fold difference in the TFP of the tradable sector, versus an 18-fold difference if human capital is fixed across countries. Moreover, we find that sectorial productivity differences play a prominent role in quantitative implications of the theory.
  • notes that Dubner and Levit make nine of the top twenty-seven false and misleading global warming skeptic arguments.
  • Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who until late April of this year was a lifelong Republican, castigated his former party this morning on Fox News. Specter ripped the GOP for refusing to be a good-faith negotiator in the health care debate: "On the Republican side, it’s no, no, no. A party of obstructionism. … You have responsible Republicans who had been in the Senate — like Howard Baker, Bob Dole, or Bill Frist — who say Republicans ought to cooperate. Well, they’re not cooperating."... Specter also indicated he would fight hard for the public option. “I’m not prepared to recede at all. I think the public option is gaining momentum,” he said. “I am not going to step back a bit. I am going to fight for the best public option.”
  • Dubner defends himself here. No word on the drunk driving advice, but he has some backstory on the interviews that he and Levitt did regarding global warming. It seems pretty clear that their approach to writing Freakonomics 2 was much different than the original book: the first Freakonomics was all about Levitt's work, whereas the most prominent part of the sequel is a discussion of the ideas of others. As I noted yesterday, this creates a huge selection issue--how did they decide whom to interview?--which is much less present in the first book. I'm also still confused that Dubner describes global warming as "a very difficult problem to solve," given that on his blog the other day he seemed to be endorsing the view that future trends are "virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling."
  • [Pielke] claims that [Hansen's] scenario B was off by a factor of 2 on CO2. This sounds like a lot until you discover that means that emissions grew by 0.5% per year instead of 1% a year. And that works out to scenario B having the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere within 1% of what has actually happened. Pielke is being much more than a little unfair by calling a prediction that got within 1% of the correct answer as not being "particularly accurate or realistic".