Why I don't believe that signs with fatality numbers cause more crashes
Evolving Economics
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1y ago
In a paper in Science, Jonathan Hall and Joshua Madsen proposed that dynamic signs that reported Texas road fatalities - “1669 deaths this year on Texas roads” - caused more accidents and fatalities. Recently, a friend mentioned the paper to me. I replied that I had seen the paper but didn’t believe the result. I wasn’t going to ignore the finding, but I would update my beliefs in only the smallest of ways. He asked how I’d come to that conclusion. In answering I stated that I had spent half an hour with the paper and supplementary materials over breakfast, clicking through to some of the pape ..read more
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Please not another bias: Take two
Evolving Economics
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1y ago
In my last post I discussed how I would like to redo my article “Please Not Another Bias! An Evolutionary Take on Behavioural Economics”. Apart from the removing the weak experimental evidence that I referenced, I wanted to make a few points more explicitly, such as the need for theory. Well, that re-write is here in the latest edition of Works in Progress. Not much has survived from the original except the opening framing and the continued belief that evolutionary theory will play a role in developing that theory. Otherwise, it’s largely new. Writing this article has me half-convinced that I ..read more
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Please not another bias: correcting the record
Evolving Economics
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1y ago
In 2015 I gave a presentation titled “Please Not Another Bias! An Evolutionary Take on Behavioural Economics” at the Marketing and Science Ideas Exchange (MSIX) conference. I posted my presentation on this blog, where it had around 100,000 readers in the first month (a lot for this blog). A copy of the post was the most popular post on Evonomics in its first year. I still see the post shared, which brings a slight cringe, as its not the article I would write today. I stand by the general argument, but there are several points that I would like to change. First, I wrote it for a marketing audie ..read more
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Revised course notes on Consumer Financial Decision Making
Evolving Economics
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1y ago
Last year I posted some notes for a course on Consumer Financial Decision Making. I have now refreshed those notes, but probably more usefully, also put them into book form using Quarto. Relative to this blog, which is built using markdown and Hugo, Quarto allows the incorporation of computation. It also allows for richer formatting and cross-referencing (without becoming the pain that is LaTeX), and easy production of an associated pdf. I am in the process of converting some of the my other lecture materials into Quarto books. You can access the new online book on Consumer Financial Decision ..read more
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Megastudy scepticism
Evolving Economics
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1y ago
0. Introduction In December last year Katherine Milkman and friends published a “megastudy” testing 54 interventions to increase the gym visits of 61,000 experimental participants. But more than just testing these interventions, the long list of authors stated: Policy-makers are increasingly turning to behavioural science for insights about how to improve citizens’ decisions and outcomes. Typically, different scientists test different intervention ideas in different samples using different outcomes over different time intervals. The lack of comparability of such individual investigations limi ..read more
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Explaining base rate neglect
Evolving Economics
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2y ago
In a seminar for a team from an investment manager I described how base rates are often neglected when people are grappling with conditional probabilities. My description was somewhat confusing, so the below is a short write-up for the participants. – Consider the following question scenario. You test yourself with a rapid antigen test for COVID-19. The following information is known: The probability that a person has COVID-19 is 1% (the prevalence). If a person has COVID-19, the probability that they test positive using this brand of rapid antigen test is 90% (the sensitivity). If a pe ..read more
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A bunch of links
Evolving Economics
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2y ago
A past regular feature of this blog was “A week of links'. Primarily, it was a useful way to aggregate interesting articles - I often search my blog posts for material (they are a collection of text files on my computer). But, the regularity of the feature drove my behaviour: I started looking for links for the post. So, I killed it. Now for the partial resurrection, with links posts to be delivered at random intervals to share articles or ideas that are worth a read. Here’s the first. Unlearning Economics unloads in a set of tweets about empirical economics research. I have a draft post on ..read more
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Bankers are more honest than the rest of us
Evolving Economics
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2y ago
In an oft-quoted and cited Nature paper, Business culture and dishonesty in the banking industry, Cohn and colleagues argue that the culture in banking weakens and undermines the honesty norm. In the abstract they state: [W]e show that employees of a large, international bank behave, on average, honestly in a control condition. However, when their professional identity as bank employees is rendered salient, a significant proportion of them become dishonest. … Our results thus suggest that the prevailing business culture in the banking industry weakens and undermines the honesty norm, implying ..read more
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My podcast appearances
Evolving Economics
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2y ago
Over the last few years I have appeared on several podcasts, the most recent being a discussion with Phil Agnew on the Nudge podcast. I am definitely more a writer than a speaker, but if you prefer audio to the written, check out the below. Nudge podcast - Beware of Behaviour Science BS 42courses - Behavioural Science & Evolutionary Biology Todd Nief - Loss Aversion and Ergodicity Economics: This was a long and pretty technical conversation on the back of a primer I wrote on ergodicity economics. Todd’s audience spans crossfit, death metal and the rationalist community. He assured me that ..read more
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The outsider to the narrow-minded profession
Evolving Economics
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2y ago
I have always been a sucker for stories about an outsider tearing down what everyone believes to be true. With that, it’s no surprise that I have fond memories from my first read of M. Mitchell Waldrop’s book Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos (which must been around 20-years ago). The book is framed around the coalescence of a group of researchers into the Santa Fe Institute. These researchers were misfits, not quite fitting into their respective fields, but coming together in an interdisciplinary effort to develop a new science of complexity. Since reading Waldro ..read more
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