I asses my quality on this Brain Dump to be exceptionally low, even by my recent crappy blogging. Still I think it's worth it to get this stuff out on the net and make it google searchable.
1. posted to Gelman's blog:
I think statistical ability has been consistently sexy from an employer's perspective for ages. I don't think it's new that the bottle neck is "the ability to understand that data and extract value from it." If anything, I think the "ubiquity of data" (here meaning the efficiency of its collection and access over geography) may reduce the need for statistical literacy at the grass roots level further. The smarter the people at the top of McDonalds, WalMart, and the army can be about statistical analysis, for example, the less literate the grassroots population can afford to be about quantitatively analyzing and forecasting inventory needs.
Being a statistician may have its fad moment, like computer programming did, but I think demand for statistical ability as a tangible asset (rather than as a signal of work discipline or general intelligence) will remain concentrated at the top of the ability pyramid.
2. More evidence of conservative antipathy to expert consensus:
3. Michael Steele is the new RNC chair. I'd rather it go to someone smarter, but it could've been a lot worse.
4. Seems like a good critique of the stimulus' current formulation by David Brooks:
(h/t Prof. Mankiw)
5. I like the idea of a constitutional amendment that has approval of former Senators to cabinet position appointments be required from the House of Representatives. The Senate seems incapable of rejecting the appointment of a Senator to any position, regardless of qualifications or ethics violations.
6. The Democrat Congress Sucks:
7. Grounded Theory textbook. State of the art qualitative analysis for 2009?
A qualitative research book list
8. Entertaining clip of Prof. Ariely discussing his research and theories (behavioral economics):
9. Douthat is way too kind to Democrats.
To put things into a stimulus package that are more about policy prefrences than stimulus is fundamentally nontransparent. It makes it harder for citizens (and experts) to track government, and to express approval or disapproval of its actions. The strategems he and Yglesias suggest for utilitarian reasons to include these non-stimulus elements are cynical and part of this fundamental lack of transparency.
Here I come closer to agreeing with Douthat.
I'd add that the GOP should also support alternatives that THE BEST EMPIRICISM AND EXPERT ANALYSIS indicates would either (1) work better than the Democrats, or (2) work as good as the Democrat's proposal, but might benenefit a different wide swath of the American population (such as the top 80% instead of the bottom 80%, that sort of thing).
Positive externalities seem less likely to accrue from policies that are grounded in mythologies and panders to bias rather than it what can concretely benefit most Americans. Douthat doesn't make that explicitly clear, and in the post-Bush, but still highly irrational America of 2009 it's worth making it clear.
A great post by By Douthat. I have nothing to add except it should be noticed.
12. Great article recounting recent term limit history, a reprint from Steve Chapman:
13. Hu's 8 Honors and shames
This is interesting, seems mostly an attempt to influence culture to solve collective action problems. Fairly technocratic, if not quite transparent.
Love the country; do it no harm.
Serve the people; never betray them.
Follow science; discard superstition.
Be diligent; not indolent.
Be united, help each other; make no gains at other's expense.
Be honest and trustworthy; do not sacrifice ethics for profit.
Be disciplined and law-abiding; not chaotic and lawless.
Live plainly, work hard; do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.
14. The first quote is ironic given the second. Philosophers like Mr. (Dr.? Professor?) Shackel should use the expression "it's an empirical question" and look at the current scientific and expert consensus rather than cite on old dead dude like Locke on an empirical question. There's all too much citing of famous old dead dudes for topics like these. What's next -cite Aristotle on anatomy?
"For example, politicians, journalists, advocacy researchers, civil servants, businessmen, none of whom would ever think of acting immorally, routinely resort to the production of bogus evidence, to tendentious misrepresentation and to bullshit, seemingly without the slightest thought that in doing so they might be engaging in unethical behaviour."
" First, and as Locke pointed out in his letter on toleration, unlike actions, our beliefs are not under our control."