Posts Tagged ‘science’

Update on Government and Science

January 27, 2011

by Bill Butos

The New York Times of January 22 reports that the Obama administration has created a “billion-dollar government drug development center to help create medicines”  as part of the federally funded National Institutes of Health.

According to the article, its rationale is to undertake research leading to the commercial development of drugs that has mysteriously lagged in the U.S. The article makes no mention of the regulatory costs drug firms face. Read the rest of this entry »

Epistemic monopoly is still a bad thing

January 16, 2010

by Roger Koppl

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services has been distributing my op ed with Dan Krane on “Science rules the FBI should obey.”  We discuss an example of epistemic monopoly in action, namely, the FBI’s failure so far to release anonymized data from its vast NDIS (National DNA Index System) data set.  The NDIS data set contains the genetic profiles of more than 7 million people, most of whom have been convicted of serious crimes, such as rape.  It contains information on whether the practice of forensic DNA profiling aligns with DNA facts, but that information can be extracted only if scientists are allowed to study the data.  Why isn’t the FBI playing by the usual science rules requiring openness and data sharing?  Read the rest of this entry »

The Death of Paul Samuelson and Selection Bias

December 13, 2009

by Mario Rizzo  

Paul Samuelson has died at the age of 94. There is already a big New York Times obituary lauding his many contributions and more will inevitably follow. Many economists will want to use this occasion to demonstrate how much they appreciate economics as a science and how this appreciation transcends ideological divides. This will reassure them that all is well in the queen of the social sciences.

Of course, I’d like to strike a discordant note. Read the rest of this entry »

Against Magical Thinking

October 17, 2009

by Roger Koppl

The term “magical thinking” has different meanings, most of them involving something like extrasensory perception or the efficacy of spells.  Here I define it as an argument, one of whose steps requires something impossible.  (Larry White helped me with this definition, but gets no blame for it or anything I say here.)  It is not magic thinking if your argument has an unexplained piece.  Darwin knew didn’t have anything like Mendelevian genetics as a mechanism.  That was a hole in his theory, eventually filled by others.  No magic there.  Magical thinking exists when one fills the gap with something that is logically or physically impossible.

If you can show I have engaged in magical thinking, you have overturned my argument.   Read the rest of this entry »

Mises Was A Scientist

October 5, 2009
by Roger Koppl

Over at Division of Labor, Noel Campbell picks a fight with Austrian fans of Mises.  “I always conceived of Mises’ efforts as attempting to build a logically correct and (therefore) irrefutable description of human behavior. As such, I always viewed Human Action as a work of philosophy, not science.”   Noel hints that he doesn’t want to be answered with a lot of philosophy of science.  I might whine about how unfair it is to contrast Mises’ “philosophy” with “science” and then expect a response that doesn’t get into the philosophy of science.  But Noel seems to be a nice guy with a sincere question, so I’ll take a stab at it anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

What Is a Model?

February 28, 2009

by Gene Callahan

I’ve been pondering this point a bit lately, and this seems like a good place to share my musings and get some feedback. The main questions I’ve been pondering are things like, ‘How is a model “accurate”?’ ‘What makes something a model of one thing and not another?’ ‘How do we know how to “use” the model in some activity?’

Let’s consider a blueprint for a house. It consists of some blue lines on white paper. You give it to me, ignorant of building practice, and tell me ‘Build this right here’, and indicate a piece of ground. I see there is a scale conversion on the blueprint, say, 1 inch = 3 feet. I figure out the requisite enlargement of the figure — then I go and paint a white rectangle on the ground of that size, and proceed to paint blue lines on it. Read the rest of this entry »

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