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Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

Articles by Miles Kimball

Avi Loeb: Curiosity, Not Careerism in Science

38 mins ago

This is part of a series called Focal Point, in which we ask a range of Harvard faculty members to answer the same question.

Question: What is one thing wrong with the world that you would change, and why?
The one thing I would change about the world is to transform my colleagues in academia to kids all over again, so they would follow the sincere path of learning about the world.
We are born innocent and humble, wondering about the world around us and trying to figure it out, initially without even having a language to express our findings. There is no bigger privilege to being alive than this learning experience. As kids, we tolerate mistakes and take risks because these are inseparable from the process of expanding our knowledge base. These aspects make most childhoods exciting

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How Measles Depletes the Body’s Immune Memory

1 day ago

So, if a person had 100 different antibodies against chicken pox before contracting measles, they might emerge from a case of measles with only 50, cutting their chicken pox protection in half. That protection could dip even lower if some of the antibodies lost are potent defenses known as neutralizing antibodies.
“Imagine that your immunity against pathogens is like carrying around a book of photographs of criminals, and someone punched a bunch of holes in it,” said the study’s first author, Michael Mina, a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Stephen Elledge at HMS and BWH at the time of the study, and now an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School.
“It would then be much harder to recognize that criminal if you saw them, especially if the holes are

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Andrea Eisfeldt, Hanno Lustig and Lei Zhang: To Grab Expected Excess Return, the Hard Part is Designing Just the Right Tracking Portfolio

2 days ago

Andrea Eisfeldt finds that hedge funds with infrastructure to execute sophisticated arbitrage crowd out less-expert investors
An asset that consistently provides a compelling risk-adjusted return would seemingly attract a new crowd of investors, the increased demand quickly driving down returns.
Yet that’s not always the case. More complex assets, such as mortgage-backed securities, which persistently generate outsized risk-adjusted returns when run through effective arbitrage strategies, tend not to be overrun by the capitalistic herd mentality.
A missed opportunity for the investing masses? Not exactly. UCLA Anderson’s Andrea Eisfeldt, Stanford’s Hanno Lustig and the University of Hong Kong’s Lei Zhang find that the complexity of the asset — more specifically, the

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Miles Kimball’s Presentation on Negative Interest Rate Policy to the National Association of Business Economists

3 days ago

A couple of months ago, I spoke to a very large room full of business economists about negative interest rate policy at the 2019 annual conference of the National Association of Business Economists. The conference was in Denver. My plenary talk was between a panel discussion involving Jim Poterba right before and a talk by the Esther George, President of the Kansas City Fed right after. The Powerpoint file I was pointing at is here. Download that, then go to the audio for my talk here.

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The Benefits of Fasting are Looking So Clear People Try to Mimic Fasting without Fasting

5 days ago

In the environment of evolutionary adaptation on the African savannah or African coast, human beings reliably survived to become our ancestors only if they could survive periods without much of any food. Thus, human beings are designed by natural selection (in the extended sense of “designed” used by Daniel Dennett’s in his book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea) to go without food for extended periods of time—periods of time that occur somewhat systematically with the seasons and somewhat randomly. Thus, fasting—going without food for periods of time—though not without its own issues, is unlikely to be as dangerous as some people have suggested.

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The Federalist Papers #2 B: You Trusted the Continental Congress; Trust the Constitutional Convention

7 days ago

In The Federalist Papers, #2, John Jay (writing, as Alexander Hamilton did in #1, under the pen name “Publius”) begins by appealing to the idea of America to argue for the importance of the thirteen states staying united. He circles back at the end of #2 to that theme of union, flattering his audience that their belief most of them have that union is a good idea is well-founded:It is worthy of remark that not only the first, but every succeeding Congress, as well as the late convention, have invariably joined with the people in thinking that the prosperity of America depended on its Union. To preserve and perpetuate it was the great object

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People Agree About Which Magic Spells Would Be More Difficult

8 days ago

Thanks to a sense of intuitive psychology, he said, we recognize that other people have intentions and goals and take actions to fulfill them, despite the fact that we can’t read their thoughts.
“And the interesting thing about these intuitive theories is they can explain the world as it is, but they can also explain these other worlds,” Ullman said. “So even though a fictional character might look very different from us, and they might have very different goals than us … we can still understand them as having goals and beliefs that they are working to reach.”
But even in those fictional worlds, Ullman said, there are limits.
“We tend to think of imaginary worlds that are closer to our own world,” he said. “So in the ‘Harry Potter’ books, gravity still exists, and J.K. Rowling doesn’t

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Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Information Paradox: An Animated Explanation of the Greatest Unsolved Challenge to Our Understanding of Reality

9 days ago

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Alfred North Whitehead, Epictetus, Melody Beattie and Amy Poehler on Gratitude

10 days ago

The following quotations about gratitude are my favorites from the 50 at this website:“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.” – Alfred North Whitehead“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ― Melody Beattie“I looked around and thought about

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Ethan Bernstein on Experiments with Office Configurations

11 days ago

Last year Ethan Bernstein’s research hit a deep cultural nerve.
“I never would have imagined I’d be a person to get hate mail,” said the Harvard Business School associate professor in organizational behavior, whose offending paper, authored with Harvard graduate Stephen Turban ’17 threw a bucket of cold water on the hot trend of open office layouts. The study, “The impact of the ‘open’ workspace on human collaboration,” concluded that the new configurations actually reduced interaction, contrary to the intended result. It became one of the most-mentioned scholarly articles of 2018.
“It was respectful, but it was still hate mail,” said Bernstein.
The strong response, which also included a significant amount of fan mail, reflects how important work environment is to job satisfaction.

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How Unhealthy are Red and Processed Meat?

12 days ago

A large share of articles on diet and health read as if good health were people’s only objective. But almost all of us eat things we believe are bad for us because they are very tasty. I have done my best to convince you, my readers, that on any ordinary day, sugar just isn’t worth it, despite how delicious it is. What about red and processed meat? Are they bad enough that you should stay away from them? Worrying about animal welfare or the effects of animal husbandry on climate change could easily tip the balance toward being a vegetarian or vegan. What follows is for those whose main concern about meat is its effects on their own health.

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Scott Alexander: Stop Confounding Yourself!

13 days ago

As a perk of my job, I get a free subscription to the American Journal of Psychiatry. I am still not used to this. No enraging struggles with paywalls. No “one year embargo on full text”. I just come home and find all of the latest and most interesting journal articles have been shipped directly to my house. Modern technology is truly amazing.
Its latest is Takizawa et al’s Adult Health Outcomes of Childhood Bullying Victimization: Evidence From A Five-Decade Longitudinal British Birth Cohort. It has since been picked up by Fox, the Washington Post, and even Xinhua. I think that’s enough to qualify for “made world headlines”.
The study took some British kids in 1958, sorted them by how much they got bullied, and checked how they did forty years later. In fact, the frequently bullied

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I. Glenn Cohen: Don’t Ethically Privilege Inaction over Action

14 days ago

This is part of a series called Focal Point, in which we ask a range of Harvard faculty members to answer the same question.

Question: What is one thing wrong with the world that you would change, and why?
A famous phrase in philosophy, associated with David Hume among others, says that one cannot go from “is” to “ought.” The (contestable) claim is that moral judgments cannot be derived solely from factual premises. But a related maxim seems even more important today — “is” is not “ought.”
When I speak to the media, students, policy-makers, or even friends and acquaintances, there is a pernicious tendency towards, to use (or slightly misuse) a phrase from behavioral economics: “status quo bias.” It means the tendency to treat the status quo as morally or legally justified, rather

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Cass Sunstein on How ‘Like a Dog’ Points to the Essence of Our Humanity

15 days ago

OCTOBER 24, 2019
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has a favorite epithet, a term of contempt: “like a dog.” Mitt Romney could have been president, but he “choked like a dog.” Broadcaster David Gregory was “fired like a dog.” In a presidential debate, Senator Marco Rubio started to “sweat like a dog.” Brent Bozell of the National Review came “begging for money like a dog.” In their Senate testimony, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates started “to choke like dogs.” Referring to his former assistant Omarosa Manigault Newman, the president writes, “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”
What does it actually mean, to be “like a dog”? I have a yellow Labrador Retriever named Snow. Her defining characteristic is

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Daniel Burns on Liberal Practice v. Liberal Theory

18 days ago

“Liberal Practice v. Liberal Theory” is a long-read via John Davidson. The title of this post is a link. It is related to my political philosophy posts, for which links are collected here:Here are my favorite two passages. This one is Daniel Burns himself:Eventually, our future statesmen must also be formed by studying the many non-ideological texts within the tradition of American political thought, of which the Federalist Papers remain the unsurpassed exemplar. And they must be formed by reading, without help from any ideological narrative or cheat sheet, the texts on politics that formed the thinking of American statesmen from James

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Should Those Whose Main Symptom is Chest Pains Get Stent or Bypass Surgery?

19 days ago

The Monday November 18, 2019 Wall Street Journal was one of many news outlets to report on the preliminary results of the ISCHEMIA study of whether individuals with chest pains, but mild test results, should have surgery to put in a stent or a bypass—as well as pursuing lifestyle changes, statins and blood thinners such as aspirin—or whether they should only pursue lifestyle changes and drug treatment. These results were reported an American Heart Association conference presentation. There

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Nick Rowe on Sticky Prices and Recessions

20 days ago

I know all about sticky wages,
I lived next to them, I grew up with them, sticky wages kids never went to school, they lived in subsidised housing and lived off benefits,
sticky wages never moved to where the work was, sticky wages robbed and stealed my stuff, sticky wages.

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The Federalist Papers #2A: John Jay on the Idea of America

21 days ago

In his fantasy alternate history of America and the origins of Mormonism, Seventh Son, Orson Scott Card attributes the idea of “America” to Ben Franklin. The idea of America was the notion that all of the 13 colonies were part of something larger. The idea of America was there in the real world as well, in 1787. In the first half of The Federalist Papers #2, John Jay called on this idea of America. The heart of John Jay’s appeal to the idea of America is in these five passages:It is well worthy of consideration therefore, whether it would conduce more to the interest of the people of America that they should, to all general purposes, be

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Peter Reuell on the World Music Quiz

22 days ago

Samuel Mehr has long been interested in questions of what music is, how it works, and why it exists — and he’s turning to the whole world for help in finding the answers.
A fellow of the Harvard Data Science Initiative and Research Associate in the Psychology Department, Mehr is the director of the Music Lab, an online, citizen-science project aimed at not just understanding how the human mind understands music, but why music is a virtually ubiquitous feature of human societies.
“For the last few years I had wanted to get into this citizen-science space,” said Mehr. “There are all sorts of problems — not just in psychology but across all the sciences — of issues in the reliability and reproducibility of scientific results. One way to try to fix these issues is to collect huge amounts

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National Well-Being Indexes and Goodhart’s Law

24 days ago

Dan Benjamin, Kristen Cooper, Ori Heffetz and I were invited to write a response to “A happy choice: wellbeing as the goal of government, by Paul Frijters, Andrew E. Clark, Christian Krekel and Richard Layard. Our title is “Self-Reported Wellbeing Indicators Are a Valuable Complement to Traditional Economic Indicators but Aren’t Yet Ready to Compete With Them.” Our abstract gives our basic reaction:We join the call for governments to routinely collect survey-based measures of self-reported wellbeing and for researchers to study them. We list a number of challenges that have to be overcome in order for these measures to eventually achieve a

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Cost Benefit Analysis Applied to Neti Pot Use

26 days ago

Link to the article shown just aboveI have nonallergic rhinitis. I have had great success keeping it under control with 10 milligrams of Cetirizine (one brand is Zyrtec) every night and using a neti pot to wash out my nasal passages twice a day, night and morning. My neti pot ritual has been pretty simple: use the little spoon provided with certain brands of neti pots to measure out and stir non-iodized salt into warm tap water. (Iodized salt burns and isn’t a good idea.) Then tip my head and pour the salted

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New Data Strongly Suggests White Southern Voters Left the Democratic Party Because of Their Views on Civil Rights—Ilyana Kuziemko and Ebonya Washington

27 days ago

Ilyana Kuziemko, Princeton University | Ebonya Washington, Yale University
In 1960, all 22 U.S. Senators from the South were affiliated with the Democratic Party. Today, all but three are Republican.[i] For decades, historians and other researchers have debated what drove the exodus of white Southern voters from the Democratic Party. Were they turned away primarily by economic self-interest? Or did they abandon the party because they came to view it as too progressive on issues of racial equality?
One reason researchers have failed to find consensus on this central question of American political economy is that data limitations have hampered their efforts. To study views on civil rights, specifically, researchers need quality public polling data. Until recently, consistently worded

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Miles Kimball on `The 7 Principles of Unitarian Universalism’

28 days ago

Note: This is a major update of my November 18, 2012 blog post “The 7 Principles of Unitarian Universalism,” adding my own take on things. I will implement this update at the original location as well.I have mentioned on this blog that I am a Unitarian Universalist. The website for the Unitarian Universalist Association has a nice summary of the principles and sources of Unitarian Universalism. Let me reflect on what each one means to me. I’ll give the official statement uninterrupted, then comment. I hope that in, some measure, my blog reflects these principles.There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm

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