Friday links: less really is more (in economics), science vs. the Tooth Fairy, and more

Also this week: tell me again what blogging is, overdosing on the placebo effect, revisiting Morin (1983), peer review vs. Einstein, homophily of biology majors, survive as a prof with this one weird trick, and more.

From Jeremy:

A survey-based experiment reveals that economists think more highly of a cv that only has papers in highly-ranked journals than a cv that has all those same papers plus additional papers in lower-ranked journals. I would not assume that this generalizes to other fields. I’d be curious to see results of the same experiment in ecology. As an aside, if you would like to see everyone taking their time and writing fewer, higher-quality papers, well, economics arguably provides an actually-existing example of how that works in practice. I leave it to you to debate whether that’s a good or bad thing on balance. (ht @kjhealy)

Andrew Gelman on blogging vs. writing vs. speaking. I agree with most of it.

I’m late to this, but here’s Hari Sridhar’s interview with Peter Morin about his classic paper Morin (1983), which won the Mercer Award. One nugget that will intimidate amaze interest many of you, if only as an illustration of how times have changed: that paper is one of three major papers Peter got out of a single experiment. That was back in the day when a paper in Science or Nature often was followed up by a related paper in a leading specialist journal. Thanks to online supplements, that never happens anymore. Unfortunately.

Stephen Heard reviews four books on the history of natural history, some of which smudge or cross the line between nonfiction and fiction.

Thirteen five ways of looking at a blackbird modes of reasoning in pop economics.

The perils of overdosing on placebos. Fascinating anecdote. (ht @kjhealy)

US biology majors are somewhat more likely to marry other biology majors than they are to marry people who majored in other fields. Biology is one of the less homophilous majors, though not the least homophilous (that would be business majors). Interesting that there’s no rhyme or reason to variation in homophily among majors, at least that I can see. Biology majors and English majors have similar homophily, for instance. Biology majors also are less likely than most other majors to marry people who don’t hold bachelor’s degrees, though again I don’t see much rhyme or reason to the variation among majors. As suggested by a commenter at the linked post, I wonder if some of what’s going on is that choice of major covaries with other things like attributes of the institution and its student body. (ht Marginal Revolution)

The most essential survival skill for professors.

When my kid stops believing in the tooth fairy, this is how I want it to happen. 🙂 (ht @dandrezner)

Peer review vs. Einstein. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Friday links: less really is more (in economics), science vs. the Tooth Fairy, and more

  1. I suppose the danger of having papers of low quality along with high quality papers is like the “Broken dishes” problem that Christopher Hsee developed. You give subjects a choice of two sets of dishes. The sets are identical except one includes more dishes which are broken. Rationally adding dishes can only increase the value of the set, but many people prefer the set which omits them.

    • Interesting, thanks for sharing that.

      The obvious problem with analogizing broken dishes to papers in less-highly-regarded journals is that it seems quite reasonable to attribute zero or even negative value to broken dishes*. You can’t eat off of broken dishes, and you have to go to the trouble of disposing of them. Whereas it’s harder to make a case that papers in less-highly-regarded journals have zero or negative value. I mean, I can imagine ways one might try to make that case. You could, say, argue that papers in low-impact journals just divert reviewer effort and reader attention from better, more important work. But it’s far from a slam dunk case, and not a case I personally would agree with.

      *maybe unless you’re Julian Schnabel and can turn them into important, valuable artwork.

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