Apr
08
2010

Interesting take.

But I am going to argue that the “internal” factors (a student’s interest in science and technology, i.e. whether or not a student suffers from math-phobia, which in turn depends on the styles of pedagogy) matter too. Here’s why. Clearly someone who is math-phobic and has an aversion to mathematics will not opt for an engineering degree in college. So at the very least, something must happen that makes the best and the brightest in India less prone to math-phobia. Clearly that something cannot be the style of science pedagogy, which, if anything, is even more authoritarian in India.

The difference, I will argue, lies in the way that other subjects — the non-technical ones — are taught in India. In these subjects, students are asked to learn a lot of things by heart (a.k.a. rote learning) and there is an emphasis on facts rather than method. When compared with this, the best and the brightest often find the problem-solving methods of mathematics and science strangely appealing.

via Reflections on Cog Sci: Math-phobia, pedagogy and the choice of occupations.

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Apr
06
2010

This is probably one of the top 5 posts I’ve read about the Philippines this year.

Marketman’s Running Survey

In the survey I am running (or if you read this later, survey that I ran), it seems some 40% of readers actually think the Philippines is POORER than it is, in other words, a fairly negative sentiment. Some 24% of you got it right, with roughly 86-88% of the families earning less than PHP25,000 per month for a family of 5. But approximately 36% of you were varying degrees of being overly optimistic, and believed that many more families earned more than they actually do. Okay, so hold this thought for a moment. Roughly 87% of all families in the Philippines, representing 75.7 million people, are living on less than PHP5,000 (USD110) per month per person on average in income.

via Market Manila – Income Levels / Poverty in the Philippines – General.

Okay a little too over the top. but I really wanted you to read this!!!

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Mar
21
2010

When you are cute your questions tend to get answered.  Read the whole thing!

While unsure if we can stomach yet another book on the crisis, a killer thesis on the topic? Now that piqued our curiosity. We tracked down Barnett-Hart, a 24-year-old financial analyst at a large New York investment bank. She met us for coffee last week to discuss her thesis, “The Story of the CDO Market Meltdown: An Empirical Analysis.” Handed in a year ago this week at the depths of the market collapse, the paper was awarded summa cum laude and won virtually every thesis honor, including the Harvard Hoopes Prize for outstanding scholarly work.

Last October, Barnett-Hart, already pulling all-nighters at the bank (we agreed to not name her employer), received a call from Lewis, who had heard about her thesis from a Harvard doctoral student. Lewis was blown away.

“It was a classic example of the innocent going to Wall Street and asking the right questions,” said Mr. Lewis, who in his 20s wrote “Liar’s Poker,” considered a defining book on Wall Street culture. “Her thesis shows there were ways to discover things that everyone should have wanted to know. That it took a 22-year-old Harvard student to find them out is just outrageous.”

via Michael Lewis’s ‘The Big Short’? Read the Harvard Thesis Instead! – Deal Journal – WSJ.

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Feb
25
2010

Read the whole thing by clicking through the overcoming bias blog!!!

Would something like this work for the Philippines? No as long as the Education System is in shambles we cannot do anything as radical as this.

National Juries

The reason so many bad policies are good politics is that so many people vote. … Ignorant voters … are biased towards particular errors. …

The best way to improve modern politics? … The number of voters should be drastically reduced so that each voter realizes that his vote will matter. Something like 12 voters per district … selected at random from the electorate. With 535 districts in Congress … there would be 6,420 voters nationally. A random selection would deliver a proportional representation of sexes, ages, races and income groups. This would improve on the current system, in which the voting population is skewed … the old vote more than the young, the rich vote more than the poor, and so on.

To safeguard against the possibility of abuse, these 6,420 voters would not know that they had been selected at random until the moment when the polling officers arrived at their house. They would then be spirited away to a place where they will spend a week locked away with the candidates, attending a series of speeches, debates and question-and-answer sessions before voting on the final day.  All of these events should be filmed and broadcast, so that everyone could make sure that nothing dodgy was going on.

More here.  This logic is simple and strong enough for most folks to both understand and accept.  Yet most would still prefer our current system – why?

via Overcoming Bias : National Juries.

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Feb
25
2010

People who follow the politics in the USA knows host stupid the people in the system can be.

I’m watching Citizen Tube here http://www.youtube.com/citizentube?feature=ticker on the Healthcare summit. I’m seriously envious of them right now. When we have senators who are hitting each other with personal snide remarks. When most of the questions that are being asked in Presidential forums are not up to snuff, Simply put I have no Idea who has the policy-fu down pat. Who knows basic economics, basic public policy etc. Damn. and you have self styled pundit who really know nothing.

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Feb
15
2010

An interesting look at Gays in the Military History edition!!!

Philip of Macedon, the Ultimate Authority on Gays in the Military, Speaks!

Philip:

Let nobody say these men did or suffered anything shameful!

Philip II Argead, King of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, builder of the army that Alexander used to become Lord of Asia and that then–in splintered pieces under his and his son’s ex-generals and in turn their heirs the Antipatrids, Antigonids, Seleucids, Ptolemids, and others–dominated the Near East until the coming of the Romans in the second century BC, said this over the bodies of the Sacred Band of Thebes, who all lay dead in their places, killed by the attack of Philip’s army at the Battle of Chaeronea.

via Philip of Macedon, the Ultimate Authority on Gays in the Military, Speaks! – Grasping Reality with a Ten-Foot-Long Flexible Trunk.

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Feb
07
2010

I think I was born in the wrong decade.

The sex ratio on many U.S. campuses is around 60/40 and rising. The NYTimes has an excellent piece on the predictable consequences for dating.

North Carolina, with a student body that is nearly 60 percent female, is just one of many large universities that at times feel eerily like women’s colleges…Needless to say, this puts guys in a position to play the field, and tends to mean that even the ones willing to make a commitment come with storied romantic histories. Rachel Sasser, a senior history major at the table, said that before she and her boyfriend started dating, he had “hooked up with a least five of my friends in my sorority — that I know of.”

via Marginal Revolution: Supply and Demand.

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Feb
04
2010

This is an interesting perspective. Though I’ve been very wary of Evolutionary Psychology/Neurology/Anything concerning the brain, I am drawn to this idea.  I believe this is another form of the more nuanced view in the book by probably 5th most favorite TED talk speaker sir Ken Robinson (ted Talk here) . I embedded the talk at the end of this post. Hope you can read his book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.

Clearly, farming is a very different activity from hunting. Farmers spend time sweating the details, worrying about the weather, making smart choices about seeds and breeding and working hard to avoid a bad crop. Hunters, on the other hand, have long periods of distracted noticing interrupted by brief moments of frenzied panic.

It’s not crazy to imagine that some people are better at one activity than another. There might even be a gulf between people who are good at each of the two skills. Thom Hartmann has written extensively on this. He points out that medicating kids who might be better at hunting so that they can sit quietly in a school designed to teach farming doesn’t make a lot of sense.

A kid who has innate hunting skills is easily distracted, because noticing small movements in the brush is exactly what you’d need to do if you were hunting. Scan and scan and pounce. That same kid is able to drop everything and focus like a laser–for a while–if it’s urgent. The farming kid, on the other hand, is particularly good at tilling the fields of endless homework problems, each a bit like the other. Just don’t ask him to change gears instantly.

Marketers confuse the two groups. Are you selling a product that helps farmers… and hoping that hunters will buy it? How do you expect that people will discover your product, or believe that it will help them? The woman who reads each issue of Vogue, hurrying through the pages then clicking over to Zappos to overnight order the latest styles–she’s hunting. Contrast this to the CTO who spends six months issuing RFPs to buy a PBX that was last updated three years ago… she’s farming.

via Seth’s Blog: Hunters and Farmers.

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Jan
28
2010

A good writer is a good writer.

The public always likes an exposé, but what made the stories so popular was not simply the explosive revelations of military incompetence. García Márquez had managed to transform Velasco’s account into a narrative so dramatic and compelling that readers lined up in front of the newspaper’s offices, waiting to buy copies.

via Gabriel García Márquez, investigative journalist – Chris Blattman.

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Jan
25
2010

This was a very interesting post, half of which won’t interest people who doesn’t care for scatter-plots /voter preferences etc.

The possibility is just wow. Imagine when or if Vermont becomes the first minority non-Christian state. What happens to the extra rights religious organizations enjoy whence a majority no longer believe in organized religion. Imagine the research papers one could write about how Vermont is so much better or worse compare to other more religious states. This is wow. To say the possibilities are interesting is a grave understatement.

The rise of the irreligious Left

Posted on: January 24, 2010 6:36 PM, by Razib Khan

Barry Kosmin at CUNY has published the results of three surveys of American religion since 1990. These “American Religious Identification Surveys” (ARIS) were done in 1990, another in 2001, and finally in 2008. One of the major findings of the ARIS has been the rise of those who avow “No Religion”. Looking through the data it is also clear that aggregating nationally understates some of the local changes. In 1990 47% Vermonters were non-Catholic Christians (i.e., Protestants). In 2008 29% were. In 1990 13% of Vermonters had No Religion. In 2008 34% of Vermonters had No Religion! In fact, No Religion has a plural majority in Vermont, with 26% of the population being Catholic. This is a much bigger shift than nationally. In Kosmin’s book One Nation Under God, which drew upon the 1990 survey results, he noted that though the Northeast has a reputation for being relatively secular, it is in fact highly confessionalized in comparison to other regions, such as the Pacific Northwest. This isn’t true anymore; much of New England has experienced a wave of rapid secularization and disaffiliation. If current rates of secularization continue Vermont may become the first minority non-Christian state. It was only 55% Christian in 2008.

via The rise of the irreligious Left : Gene Expression.

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