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The Bayesian Heresy

Economics, global development,current affairs, globalization, culture and more rants on the dismal science, and the society. "As usual, it's like being a kid in a candy store. I'm awed by the volume of high-quality daily links in general. Thanks!" - Chri

Updated: 2016-09-09T05:20:43.016-07:00


Getting beyond the OK Plataues with 'deliberate practice'


When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. In fact, in every domain of expertise that’s been rigorously examined, from chess to violin to basketball, studies have found that the number of years one has been doing something correlates only weakly with level of performance....

Benjamin Franklin was apparently an early practitioner of this technique. In his autobiography, he describes how he used to read essays by the great thinkers and try to reconstruct the author’s arguments according to Franklin’s own logic....

The secret to improving at a skill is to retain some degree of conscious control over it while practicing—to force oneself to stay out of autopilot....
Unlike mammographers, surgeons tend to get better with time. What makes surgeons different from mammographers, according to Ericsson, is that the outcome of most surgeries is usually immediately apparent—the patient either gets better or doesn’t—which means that surgeons are constantly receiving feedback on their performance. They’re always learning what works and what doesn’t, always getting better. This finding leads to a practical application of expertise theory: Ericsson suggests that mammographers regularly be asked to evaluate old cases for which the outcome is already known. That way they can get immediate feedback on their performance.

-Foer, Joshua (2011-03-03). Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything . The Penguin Press. Kindle Edition.

Arnold Kling has an interesting discussion on the topic over at their blog.

Foer, citing Anders Ericcson and confirming with his own experience, says that what is happening at a plateau is that you are doing too much on auto-pilot. Instead, you have to jar yourself into engaging in the activity more consciously....

I wonder if there is an analogy with firms or even larger economic units. That is, a firm is bound to operate on "autopilot" to a large extent, but if it does so it will reach a plateau. And maybe firms or larger economic units sometimes have to cut back on autopilot and do worse for a while in order to escape a plateau.

Advice of the Day- We're on Borrowed Time


 Charles Wheelan commencement talk;

What it means for you, and what I’ve found to be one the great challenges of adulthood, is balancing present and future. If you want to do great things in a decade or two, you need to grind away now. You need to do things that you would prefer not to do, to spend time on things that you don’t particularly enjoy. Frankly, that’s an important part of your 20s. Sorry to be the bearer of that message. But you can’t lose sight of the fact that there are no guarantees in life. If you grind away miserably to become the CEO, no one can promise you that it will work out that way, or that the sacrifice will be worth it even if it does. On the other hand, if you spend most of your time skateboarding with friends and playing video games, I can pretty much assure you that your professional accomplishments will be limited.

You have to navigate that trade-off. On this point, I do have advice, which is to take joy in the journey, rather than building your life around how good you expect the view to be when you get to the top. Again, by the way, the happiness research is clear. Most people overstate how much they will enjoy that next promotion and the stuff it can buy—because we get used to them so quickly. By next Monday, it’s another job and a bigger TV that you still can’t find the remote control for.

The best iPad Notebook?


What are good iPad applications for taking notes?

Clockwork Notebook

Note Taker HD


The Mind's Eye


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"The Mind's Eye." Dr. Sacks focuses on creative people who have learned to compensate for potentially devastating disabilities. From the concert pianist who progressively lost the ability to recognize objects yet managed to keep performing from memory; to the writer whose stroke disturbed his ability to read but not his ability to write; to Sacks himself, who suffers from "face blindness," a condition that renders him unable to recognize people, even relatives, and, sometimes, himself. Written with his trademark insight, compassion, and humor, the book makes the obscure and arcane absolutely absorbing

Book Quote of the Day


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It is no tragedy to think of the most successful people in any field as superheroes. But it is a tragedy when a belief in the judgment of experts or the marketplace rather than a belief in ourselves causes us to give up, as John Kennedy Toole did when he committed suicide after publishers repeatedly rejected his manuscript for the posthumously best-selling Confederacy of Dunces...
What I’ve learned, above all, is to keep marching forward because the best news is that since chance does play a role, one important factor in success is under our control: the number of at bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized. For even a coin weighted toward failure will sometimes land on success. Or as the IBM pioneer Thomas Watson said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”
-Mlodinow, Leonard (2008-05-13). The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (p. 217). Vintage. Kindle Edition.

People to Watch- David Berlinski


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He is the author of numerous books, including The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and It Scientific Pretensions (Crown Forum, 2008; Basic Books, 2009), Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics for the Modern Library series at Random House (2004), The Secrets of the Vaulted Sky (Harcourt, 2003), The Advent of the Algorithm (Harcourt Brace, 2000), Newton’s Gift (Free Press, 2000), and A Tour of the Calculus (Pantheon, 1996). William F. Buckley Jr. said of The Devil’s Delusion that “Berlinski’s book is everything desirable; it is idiomatic, profound, brilliantly polemical, amusing, and of course vastly learned.

Assorted Tools


Wikisummarizer Context Discovery Inc(image)

Measures of economic well-being in UK


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PK at Workd Bank


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View more presentations from Jim Benson
Just finished the book, Personal Kanban- Mapping Work, Navigating Life(image)

Personal Kanban


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View more presentations from Jim Benson

A book worth thinking and reading


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Here's Tyler Cowen's review;
When doing the statistics, one key issue is how to measure violence. Pinker often favors “per capita” measures, but I am not so sure. I might prefer a weighted average of per capita and “absolute quantity of violence” measures. Killing six million Jews in the Holocaust is not, in my view, “half as violent” if global population is twice as high. Once you toss in the absolute measures with the per capita measures, the long-term trends are not nearly as favorable as Pinker suggests.

A New York City Firefighter's Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete


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The Long Run is an emotional and incredibly honest story about Matt's determination to fight through fear, despair, loneliness, and intense physical and psychological pain to regain the life he once had. The book chronicles Matt's road to recovery as he teaches himself to walk again and, a mere three years later, to run in the 2008 New York City Marathon. "Running saved my life," Matt says, and his embrace of the running community and insistence on competing in the marathon has inspired many, turning him into a symbol of hope and recovery for untold numbers of others.
I WILL Foundation(image)

Photo of the Day


Pictured: H. & S.J. Rowan, Secondhand Bookshop, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset"Mr Rowan has been in this part of Bournemouth for many years and specialises in buying and selling maps and books—antiquarian, arts, aviation, military history, atlases and local interest. Like all good dealers, he advertises in local papers offering to visit people’s homes to view books for sale."(image)

The Education of Millionaires


Learn to Invest in Yourself width="360" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>.” Bootstrapping your education involves getting on solid footing financially, and then making incremental investments in your earning power, over time, out of the cash flow—so you’re constantly learning and never going into debt. -Ellsberg, Michael (2011-09-29). The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late (Kindle Locations 2957-2959). Portfolio. Kindle Edition. Related: How to Network Your Way to World-Class Mentors (image)

Money Ball


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Waiting for Amazon's Kindle Tablet


Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Is Very Real. I’ve Seen It, Played With It.;
Again, the device is a 7-inch tablet with a capacitive touch screen. It is multi-touch, but from what I saw, I believe the reports that it relies on a two-finger multi-touch (instead of 10-finger, like the iPad uses) are accurate. This will be the first Kindle with a full-color screen. And yes, it is back-lit. There is no e-ink to be found anywhere on this device.
Why Amazon's Kindle tablet can succeed where others have failed.(image)

Art of the Day


“Immaculee,” Numero, 2007 (image)

Marketers target Men


Marketers are also devoting much more effort to marketing to men—or, as Mr Lindstrom puts it, getting men to shop like women. In 1995 only 53% of American men admitted to shopping for themselves. That figure has risen to 75%. Many are buying traditionally “female” products; marketers created a $27 billion “male grooming” industry from nothing. They bombard men with images that were once reserved for women: think of Abercrombie & Fitch’s buff, topless hunks. (Not all hunks are appealing, however. The firm offered to pay a star of “Jersey Shore”, a crass reality show, not to wear its clothes.)
- Source: The Economist

Highly Recommended Podcast- Expert Prediction


The Folly of PredictionTETLOCK: That experts thought they knew more than they knew.That there was a systematic gap between subjective probabilities that experts were assigning to possible futures and the objective likelihoods of those futures materializing.DUBNER: Let me translate that for you. The experts were pretty awful. And you think: awful compared to what? Did they beat a monkey with a dartboard?TETLOCK: Oh, the monkey with a dartboard comparison, that comes back to haunt me all the time. But with respect to how they did relative to, say, a baseline group of Berkeley undergraduates making predictions, they did somewhat better than that. Did they do better than an extrapolation algorithm? No, they did not. They did for the most part a little bit worse than that. How did they do relative to purely random guessing strategy? Well, they did a little bit better than that, but not as much as you might hope.DUBNER: That “extrapolation algorithm” that Tetlock mentioned? That’s simply a computer programmed to predict “no change in current situation.” So it turned out these smart, experienced, confident experts predicted the political future about as well, if not slightly worse, than the average daily reader of The New York Times.TETLOCK: I think the most important takeaway would be that the experts are, they think they know more than they do. They were systematically overconfident. Some experts were really massively overconfident. And we are able to identify those experts based on some of their characteristics of their belief system and their cognitive style, their thinking style  ........DUBNER: Hey, guess what, Sunshine? Al Gore didn’t win Florida. Didn’t become president either. Try walking that one back. So we are congenital predictors, but our predictions are often wrong. What then? How do you defend your bad predictions? I asked Philip Tetlock what all those political experts said when he showed them their results. He had already stashed their excuses in a neat taxonomy:TETLOCK: So, if you thought that Gorbachev for example, was a fluke, you might argue, well my understanding of the Soviet political system is fundamentally right, and the Soviet Politburo, but for some quirky statistical aberration of the Soviet Politburo would have gone for a more conservative candidate. Another argument might be, well I predicted that Canada would disintegrate, that Quebec would secede from Canada, and it didn’t secede, but the secession almost did succeed because there was a fifty point one percentage vote against secession, and that’s well within the margin of sampling error. DUBNER: Are there others you want to name?TETLOCK: Well another popular prediction is “off on timing.” That comes up quite frequently in the financial world as well. Many very sophisticated students of finance have commented on how hard it is, saying the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid, I think is George Soros’s expression. So, “off on timing” is a fairly popular belief-system defense as well. And I predicted that Canada would be gone. And you know what? It’s not gone yet. But just hold on.DUBNER: You answered very economically when I asked you what are the characteristics of a bad predictor; you used one word, dogmatismm. What are the characteristics, then, of a good one?TETLOCK: Capacity for constructive self-criticism.DUBNER: How does that self-criticism come into play and actually change the course of the prediction?TETLOCK: Well, one sign th[...]

Neuroscience of Personality and Love Therapy


width="400" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>Radiance HouseSocial BotDario Nardi Check out their iPhone apps.(image)

Steven Levitt on Love


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Chart of the Day- STDs in US


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Google Infographic



Random Blog- Logic is Variable


From the Pakistani blog-
A phrase written on sand by a small boy who lost his parents in flood,"Dear River, I will never forgive you, I will never forgive you, even if your waves touch my feet million times."