Author Archive

Debunking Princeton

February 7, 2014 1 comment

This blog has been pretty dormant so I imagine this won’t really increase the reach, but I did write something that is pretty in tune with it over on Facebook: a note on Debunking Princeton.

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A Joe Paterno angle I haven’t seen

November 12, 2011 8 comments

I’m in no way condoning child abuse, and I’ve always disliked Joe Paterno and found him really creepy to begin with (and disliked Penn State by association). So I don’t have a bias here, I really don’t. I’m just a quant.

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Australian gender

September 15, 2011 1 comment

Australia announced today that it’s providing the option to not specify a gender on your passport — you can use “X”, intended for intersex people and the like. What I’m wondering as a quant (unrelated to whether or not it’s a good change) is: if you’re going to do this, why bother specifying anyone’s gender at all? Actually, it’s not clear what the point of that ever was, but certainly if “not specified” is an option for an identification type situation, it’s not really helpful for those sorts of security purposes, which the stuff on a passport is designed to accomplish.

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Ethics of the placebo effect

June 17, 2011 4 comments

Is it ethical to package things in a way that increases the placebo effect?

Is it ethical to publicize the placebo effect? (It works less well the more familiar people are with it.)

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Dental insurance

June 16, 2011 5 comments

Just a quick thought today. Dental insurance is the biggest swindle ever. I’m not talking about it being an instance of the general swindle that is the insurance industry (perhaps overstated by me); I’m talking about the fact that it’s called insurance. I don’t know who did this, but it’s brilliant: by using the word for something not really insurance, they make it seem obligatory. A dentally related catastrophe would almost certainly fall under medical insurance; people use dental insurance for routine things like checkups and cavities being filled, and dental expenses are generally both optional and in most people’s linear utility range. Getting insurance on something in your linear utility range (e.g. dealer blackjack, unless you really have a gambling problem) is quite the folly indeed, but somehow the industry gets away with using the word to give a sense of prudence and sensibility to buying dental coverage, all the while taking the insurance company’s usual steep vig. Quite a trick indeed!

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June 15, 2011 4 comments

This link reminded me of this to-me fascinating situation. No, not gay marriage itself: rather, whether a gay judge should have recused himself from this case, which seems to me to be an entirely different type of question.
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Always believe Vegas

June 14, 2011 2 comments

One of the lessons from my career working for a hedge fund is a pretty obvious one: if someone is good at predicting something, they will be making a mint off of it and moving the market in the process. The contrapositive, of course, is the relevant implication: if someone isn’t making a mint off of it, they probably aren’t good at predicting it. I’m reminded of this when I see all sorts of psychoanalysis and even non-psychoanalysis of sports.
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