Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another viral youtube video

It is not too often that an economics video goes viral, but another one has.



It is rather funny, which probably explains its success.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dirty jobs

Found from a link on a teaching-economics mail list, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about life as a professional paper writer:

I've written toward a master's degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I've worked on bachelor's degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I've written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I've attended three dozen online universities. I've completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.
....
From my experience, three demographic groups seek out my services: the English-as-second-language student; the hopelessly deficient student; and the lazy rich kid.
....
...it's hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I'd say education is the worst.

The attitude of the students that he works for, who are not interested in learning but only in being credentialed, is a major reason that I was happy to retire from academia this year. That, and the denial of the problem that was pervasive among the faculty.

Addendum: One of the contributors to the e-mail list on which I found this believes that this article is fiction. He argues that it seems too much designed to cater to the prejudices of the readership of the Chronicle--such as emphasizing writing papers for seminarians about ethics. It certainly is possible that it is fiction. With anonymous sources is that you cannot check them.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

the Billion Prices Project

The billion prices project at MIT, an attempt to use online prices to form price indices: http://bpp.mit.edu/

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Predictions

James Taranto considers some predictions:
there are no signs of a dramatic rebound for the party, and the chance of Republicans winning control of either chamber in the 2010 midterm elections is zero. Not "close to zero." Not "slight" or "small." Zero.
Making predictions is risky, which is why I try to avoid them. However, when someone makes a prediction that turns out correctly, that person deserves to be taken more seriously in the future. The correct prediction shows that they have understanding. Obviously when a person's predictions are completely wrong, that person should lose credibility because the failed prediction shows that their understanding of the situation is flawed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Accuracy of government data

This does not give one confidence in government data:

Two people were found to have filed multiple W-2 forms that made them into multibillionaires, an agency official said yesterday. Those reports threw statistical wage tables out of whack and, in figures released Oct. 15, made it appear that top U.S. earners had seen their pay quintuple in 2009 to an average of $519 million.


The agency yesterday released corrected tables that showed the average incomes of the top earners, in fact, declined 7.7 percent to $84 million each.

Monday, November 1, 2010