Fast Grants against Covid-19, an extension of Emergent Ventures

Emergent Ventures, a project of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, is leading a new “Fast Grants” program to support research to fight Covid-19.  Here is the bottom line: Science funding mechanisms are too slow in normal times and may be much too slow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fast Grants are an effort to […]

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Do better incentives limit cognitive biases?

There is a new paper by Benjamin Enke, Uri Gneezy, Brian Hall, David Martin, Vadim Nelidov, Theo Offerman, and Jeroen van de Ven: Despite decades of research on heuristics and biases, empirical evidence on the effect of large incentives – as present in relevant economic decisions – on cognitive biases is scant. This paper tests […]

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*Markets, Minds, and Money: Why America Leads the World in University Research*

One of the best books on the history of American higher education, author Miguel Urquiola of Columbia argues for the importance of market competition in the rise and dominance of the American system.  Strongly argued and full of good evidence and stories, here is one excerpt I found of interest: That Columbia would be among […]

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New books of note, which I’ve been reading parts of

Jia Lynn Yang, One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle over American Immigration, 1924-1965. Kate Murphy, You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters.  How to be a better listener — get the audiobook! Kevin Peter Hand, Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space.  A remarkably under-written and […]

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*Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment*

That is a recent book by Ahmet T. Kuru, published in August.  All books should have a (non-Amazon) abstract, and here it is for this book: Why do Muslim-majority countries exhibit high levels of authoritarianism and low levels of socioeconomic development in comparison to world averages? Ahmet T. Kuru criticizes explanations which point to Islam […]

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Crisis Innovation

That is the title of a new working paper by Tania Babina, Asaf Bernstein, and Filippo Mezzanotti, here is the abstract: The effect of financial crises on innovative activity is an unsettled and important question for economic growth, but one difficult to answer with modern data. Using a differences-in-differences design surrounding the Great Depression, we […]

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Peter Navarro and the epistemic problem

A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death. The warning, written in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to […]

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Our regulatory state is failing us, installment #1437

The Trump administration has stumbled in its initial push to implement the $2 trillion coronavirus aid package, with confusion and fear mounting among small businesses, workers and the newly unemployed since the bill was signed into law late last month. Small-business owners have reported delays in getting approved for loans without which they will close their doors, […]

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Why I do not favor variolation for Covid-19

Robin Hanson makes the strongest case for variolation, here is one excerpt: So the scenario is this: Hero Hotels welcome sufficiently young and healthy volunteers. Friends and family can enter together, and remain together. A cohort enters together, and is briefly isolated individually for as long as it takes to verify that they’ve been infected […]

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