Monday, 1 September 2008

Lazy round-up

I'm uninspired this lunchtime so here are a few links to stuff worth a read.

This piece in the FT's fund management supplement reviews recent contributions to the analysis of the subprime crisis including this book which looks like it might be worth a punt. Conclusion:

The global financial crisis is not satisfactorily explained by reference to the “irrationality” of players in the housing market. Although the US mortgage market had become supremely dysfunctional, it is also wrong to suggest conflicts of interest alone can explain the current crisis. The common thread linking the various real estate bubbles around the world has been abnormally low interest rates. Loose monetary policy from the world’s central banks created a multitude of bubbles; irrational exuberance and poor lending decisions followed.

Via S&M I picked up this epic post on inequality under Thatch which is the sort of well-researched, cool-headed and thorough post that surely has no place in the blogosphere. Also several billion extra points for Ministry of Truth for having the whole of Notes on Nationalism on the blog. As I've blogged before, I think it's one of the most interesting things Orwell wrote.

There was a good bit in The Grauniad at t'weekend having a pop at the members of the fourth estate who did such a great job of fair and balanced reporting of the MMR 'scare':

It is madness to imagine that one single man can create a 10-year scare story. It is also dangerous to imply - even in passing - that academics should be policed not to speak their minds, no matter how poorly evidenced their claims. Individuals like Wakefield must be free to have bad ideas. The media created the MMR hoax, and they maintained it diligently for 10 years. Their failure to recognise that fact demonstrates that they have learned nothing, and until they do, journalists and editors will continue to perpetrate the very same crimes, repeatedly, with increasingly grave consequences.

And finally I've been reading some bloody interesting stuff about prototype theory this weekend. I came across this a couple of years back in a book on cognitive biases, but I've recently started to have a proper look at it. It's basically all about how we categorise stuff. We have a sense that some things are 'better' examples of a category than others (ie robins are 'better' birds than penguins).

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