Oh noes! Teh Internets makez u gulible

Another “Internets makes you stupid story” from the Brisbane Courier-Mail (irony detector overload alert !!).

The original source is something called the Levitt Institute and the Courier-Mail story is a pretty fair summary of the Levitt Institute report, which is here (PDF). I’ll leave the deconstruction as an exercise for readers, with a bonus mark for the question “Which basic concept of classical hypothesis testing is ignored in this study of ‘ability to detect erroneous information'”

Update xxx ????? sex ????? ?? ??????? Sucked in! It turns out the whole thing is in fact a hoax by Andrew Denton’s new show.. Sad to say, with the irony detector already blown, it’s hard to tell the difference between genuine and fake stupid. ??????? ?????????

Text and writing

Tigtog at LP points to a study showing that involvement with Facebook, MSN and so on has increased the textual skills of young people, including not just “good writing” but the ability to adapt style to an imagined readership that varies in different context. I was banging on about this last millennium.

Tigtog finishes with a really last-millennium question? “Does anybody here still do lots of handwriting?”.

For those who don’t recall, “handwriting” was a method of producing text, popular in the second millennium, in which, rather than using a keyboard or pointer to produce letters, you used an ink-dispenser to draw each letter in succession. There was a version of this called “cursive” or “script” in which, rather than drawing the letters separately, they were all run together. This was much faster to produce, but, as I recall, almost impossible to read unless done by a real expert. I can still do a very inexpert version of the letter-by-letter method, which was called “printing” (nothing to do with real printing, but the result, done well, looked a bit like printed text).

Uncertainty and climate change

I was at a conference on uncertainty and climate change in Berkeley last week, and gave the wrap-up panel discussion with Geoffrey Heal. We’d discussed a wide range of uncertainties and ambiguities, from future emissions scenarios to model uncertainty to perception and communication issues, and we were asked to comment on how, with so much uncertainty, economists can make useful recommendations.
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More bookblogging

I’m starting now on what will I think be the hardest and most controversial chapter of my book – the argument that the search for a macroeconomic theory founded on (roughly) neoclassical micro, which has been the main direction of macro research for 40 years or so, was a wrong turning, forcing us to retrace our steps and look for another route. As always, comments and criticisms accepted with gratitude.

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Access Economics and CEDA on carbon taxes

I’ve seen a number of reports of statements by CEDA supporting a carbon tax as an alternative to emissions trading. This seemed surprising, since the two are basically equivalent. Given that the ETS is almost in place, suggesting such a variation seemed rather pointless.

But I’ve now received an email from CEDA which appears to explain everything. The real distinction is not between a tax and a trading scheme but between a tax levied at the point where carbon is used and one where final products are consumed. Since Australia exports a lot of embodied carbon, the tax on final consumption would raise a lot less revenue, and cause a much smaller economic shock.

In fact, modelling by Access Economics (PDF) suggests that the loss of income under a consumption-based carbon tax would be about half that from a production-based tax or ETS

So what’s the catch ?

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The macro wars

Paul Krugman’s piece on “Why did economists get it so wrong” has attracted a vitriolic response from John Cochrane, reproduced here. Krugman’s piece was strongly worded, but the reply ups the ante, and I expect further escalation. Economics conferences in the next few years are going to be interesting events.

Given that, as Krugman himself notes, disagreements between economists were notably mild until the crisis erupted, what is going on here?

I’m visiting Berkely at present and just had a chat with Brad DeLong. These are some of the thoughts I had about the great macroeconomics wars as a result.

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The race for a low carbon economy: A form guide

If, as I think is now possible, the Copenhagen summit leads to an agreement to reduce CO2 emissions substantially in the next decade and to very low levels by 2050, we will need to replace, or do without, a lot of energy currently derived from carbon-based fuels. It’s probably a good time to take a look at the main contenders for achieving this. Here’s my form guide. (I’m not going to give lots of links – Wikipedia is, as usual, a good place to start).

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