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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

The Federalist Papers #14: A Republic Can Be Geographically Large—James Madison

2 days ago

James Madison is incisive in his arguments in his numbers of the Federalist Papers. In the Federalist Papers #14, he argues that the United States would not be to large to be governed to a Congress of representatives meeting in one place. To show how he makes his argument, let me add my own summary headings in bold italics to James Madison’s text:FEDERALIST NO. 14Objections to the Proposed Constitution From Extent of Territory AnsweredFrom the New York PacketFriday, November 30, 1787.Author: James

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Technological Progress: Predicting Avocado Ripeness

3 days ago

“Ripeness prediction is really difficult for avocados, and because they are so valuable, it is really a critical point for retailers,” said Juliet Nwagwu Ume-Ezeoke ’21, a mechanical engineering concentrator. “We hope this information would allow retailers to take very decisive actions.”
For instance, retailers could advertise the ripeness states of avocados so consumers can make more informed produce purchasing decisions. Retailers could also set different prices for different levels of ripeness, or change store displays so the ripest avocados are at the front.
The biggest challenge the students faced resulted from the University’s transition to remote instruction in mid-March — right in the middle of their project. After they left campus, the members of the sensor development team

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Gianpiero Petriglieri: Are Our Management Theories Outdated?

4 days ago

Marcelo Santos/Getty Images

“Where are the new management theories?” an acute observer of management trends asked me at a gathering of executives, academics, and journalists focused on the future of work. It was a few months ago, and no one expected the future to arrive as quickly as it has, or in the way that it has. I had heard that question before — it’s a staple of those gatherings — but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since work as we knew it has ground to a halt. Theories bind analysis and action and, especially in times of change, when the future becomes unpredictable and anxiety is running high, managers need theories to provide clarity and reassurance.
Scientific management. Human relations. Competitive advantage. Shareholder value maximization. Disruptive

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The Right Amount of Wokeness

5 days ago

Lance Morrow, in his August 2, 2020 Wall Street Journal op-ed “Dawn of the Woke,” and Andrew Michta, in his July 31, 2020 Wall Street Journal op-ed “The Captive Mind and America’s Resegregation,” mince no words about the dangers of too much wokeness. Here is a sample of Lance Morrow (bullets added to distinguish different passages):… cancel culture … is the 21st century’s equivalent of McCarthy’s marauding. The country’s myriad cancelers emit the odor not of sanctity but of sanctimony, and of something

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The Artery-Aging Properties of TMAO and the TMAO-Producing Effect of Animal Protein Consumption

7 days ago

In injecting TMAO ( trimethylamine-N-Oxide) into mice makes their arteries look like those of older mice. Blocking TMAO makes the arteries of mice look like those of younger mice:… treatment with 3,3-dimethyl-1-butanol for 8 to 10 weeks to suppress trimethylamine-N-oxide selectively improved endothelium-dependent dilation in old mice to young levels …The quotation is taken from the abstract of the Hypertension article “Trimethylamine-N-Oxide Promotes Age-Related Vascular Oxidative Stress and Endothelial

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Old Whig on the Truth about Sweden

8 days ago

I grew up in Sweden which many US liberals saw as the end of their vision. A progressive society. What they didn’t see is that a ultra-conformist ppl need no laws to conform to norms so the laws can seemingly be very lax and its very easy to manipulate norms, everybody follows.

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Consensual, Non-Solipsistic Experience Machines

9 days ago

Experience machines get a bad rap. People often use thought experiments involving a machine that gives an ultra-high-quality illusion of life experience to argue that people want things to be “real.” There is a grain of truth to this, but I want to narrow down what I think people most want to be real: the other human beings one seems to be interacting with.Being in an experience machine alone doesn’t sound at all attractive to me on a long-term basis, even if the experiences themselves are extremely pleasant and engaging. But if the possible experiences go far beyond what is otherwise possible, it seems great to be in an experience machine in

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Freakonomics Podcast on Rent Control

11 days ago

(Photo: Frampton)
As cities become ever-more expensive, politicians and housing advocates keep calling for rent control. Economists think that’s a terrible idea. They say it helps a small (albeit noisy) group of renters, but keeps overall rents artificially high by disincentivizing new construction. So what happens next?
Listen and subscribe to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
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Hey there — and a special welcome to all the people who heard me on Joe Rogan Experience and on The Bill Simmons Podcast — and thanks to Joe and Bill for having me on. This week’s Freakonomics Radio episode is

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Robert Eisler: The Polymath Who Anticipated the Exchange Rate Between Bank Money and Currency that Could End the Lower Bound

12 days ago

Warning: Economics. In this episode, we begin with Eisler’s testimony before the skeptical Senators of the Committee on Banking and Currency in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 1934, in which he proposed that the nation adopt a dual currency system to control inflation and end the Great Depression. I (a non-economist) talk about what this means with noted economist Miles Kimball, who has recently brought renewed attention to Eisler’s plan in his own work. We also learn about Eisler’s theory of who actually wrote what we call the Gospel of John, talk with Steven Wasserstrom about Eisler’s brief involvement with Carl Jung and the Eranos Conference, and interpret a “dream poem” that Eisler recorded at his mother’s house in 1936.
Guests: Guests: Miles Kimball (The University of

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Carbon Dioxide as a Stimulant for Respiratory Function

14 days ago

Carbon dioxide is a big worry for the planet, but a little more of it may be good for our bodies in a direct way. I began writing about James Nestor’s intriguing book Breath two weeks ago, in “James Nestor on How Bad Mouth Breathing Is.” Here, I write about another theme in Breath: the role of carbon dioxide as a stimulant for respiratory function. (All the quotations in this post are from Breath.) One dimension of that stimulation of respiratory function is at the cellular level:Why did some cells get oxygen more easily than others? What directed billions of hemoglobin molecules to release oxygen at just the right place at the right time? How

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Testing: Frequent, Fast, and Cheap is Better than Sensitive—Alex Tabarrok

15 days ago

A number of firms have developed cheap, paper-strip tests for coronavirus that report results at-home in about 15 minutes but they have yet to be approved for use by the FDA because the FDA appears to be demanding that all tests reach accuracy levels similar to the PCR test. This is another deadly FDA mistake.
NPR: Highly accurate at-home tests are probably many months away. But Mina argues they could be here sooner if the FDA would not demand that tests for the coronavirus meet really high accuracy standards of 80 percent or better.
A Massachusetts-based startup called E25Bio has developed this sort of rapid test. Founder and Chief Technology Officer Irene Bosch says her firm has field-tested it in hospitals. “What we learned is that the test is able to be very efficient for people

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The Federalist Papers #13: Alexander Hamilton on Increasing Returns to Scale in National Government

16 days ago

The Federalist Papers #13 has two elements. First, Alexander Hamilton argues that there are fixed costs to running a national government that would apply also to a smaller confederation of 4-5 states. These fixed costs of running a national government imply increasing returns to scale in national government in the relevant range. Second, Alexander Hamilton argues that the most likely division of the 13 states would be the Southern colonies in one confederation and the Northern and Middle colonies in a different confederation. This points to a very interesting alternative history in which a division similar to the later division between the

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Freakonomics Podcast: How Goes the Behavior-Change Revolution?

18 days ago

An all-star team of behavioral scientists discovers that humans are stubborn (and lazy, and sometimes dumber than dogs). We also hear about binge drinking, humblebragging, and regrets. Recorded live in Philadelphia with guests including Richard Thaler, Angela Duckworth, Katy Milkman, and Tom Gilovich.Listen and subscribe to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen. Please welcome the host of Freakonomics Radio, Stephen Dubner.
Stephen J. DUBNER: Thank you so much. This is a very special episode of Freakonomics Radio. It’s about one of my favorite topics. And based on the feedback

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Lumpers vs. Splitters: Economists as Lumpers; Psychologists as Splitters

19 days ago

In thinking about the nature of economics as a discipline (as of the year 2020), I find the distinction of lumpers vs. splitters illuminating. The terminology of lumpers and splitters is especially easy to understand in zoology and botany. In that context, “lumpers” are zoologists and botanists who make a career out of showing that types that were thought to be distinct species are really one species; “splitters” in that context are zoologists and botanists who make a career out of showing that what was thought to be one species is really many species. In a broader sense, a “lumper” is someone who tries to explain many phenomena as being in some

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The Surprising Genetic Correlation Between Protein-Heavy Diets and Obesity

21 days ago

Regressions of outcomes on genes, when controlling for parental genes, yield causality as much as could be desired: which of the parental genes an individual gets is randomized at the molecular level. And controlling for what genes the parents have (which form the pool from which all but mutations come from in the child) controls for the effect of the parental genes on how the parents do their child-rearing. Often, though, we are not satisfied with knowing causality from genes because, when it comes to interventions, the only thing causality from genes says directly is what one might be able to get from genetic engineering interventions. It is

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Freakonomics Podcast: Does Hollywood Still Have a Princess Problem?

22 days ago

Disney’s classic princess movies, which some critics see as promoting outdated role models, are being updated to reflect more modern sensibilities. And the strategy is paying off. (Photo: Harrison/Getty)
For decades, there’s been a huge gender disparity both on-screen and behind the scenes. But it seems like cold, hard data — with an assist from the actor Geena Davis — may finally be moving the needle.
Listen and subscribe to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
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Geena DAVIS: In my opinion, the biggest problem we have in the world — of all the problems that we have — is gender

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Michael Coe on Joseph Smith the Shaman

23 days ago

As a nonsupernaturalist, I can’t believe the official Mormon account of its founder, Joseph Smith. (See “What Do You Mean by ‘Supernatural’? and “The Message of Jesus for Non-Supernaturalists.”) But on the whole, I think he has had a benign and interesting effect on the world—at a minimum opening up additional possible perspectives on many things that are clearly nonsupernatural. And for the most part, I think Joseph Smith has had a benign and interesting effect on my own life, through my 40 years as a

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Freakonomics Podcast: The K-12 Math Curriculum Should Emphasize Data Analysis instead of Trigonometry and Calculus

25 days ago

The high-school math curriculum in the U.S. predates the age of modern computers. Can educators and policymakers be convinced it’s time for an overhaul? (Photo: Needpix)
Most high-school math classes are still preparing students for the Sputnik era. Steve Levitt wants to get rid of the “geometry sandwich” and instead have kids learn what they really need in the modern era: data fluency.
Listen and subscribe to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
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Stephen J. DUBNER: Hey Levitt.
Steven LEVITT: Hey Dubner.
DUBNER: How you been?
LEVITT: I have been great. How are you doing?

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The Fed Needs to be Ready to Go to Negative Rates and the Bank of Japan Needs to be Ready to Go Deeper Negative

26 days ago

No one knows what will happen once the pandemic is over. But there is a substantial chance that powerful aggregate demand stimulus will be necessary in many countries. The articles shown above talk about the US and Japan. Japan has already gone to negative rates. There is no reason it can’t go deeper into negative rates. If they are worried about the paper currency problem, they know what to do: I have given two presentations at the Bank of Japan about negative rate policy, including how to fully

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James Nestor on How Bad Mouth Breathing Is

28 days ago

Mouth breathing is proverbial as a sign of being “uncool.” But in his very valuable book Breath, James Nestor argues that mouth breathing is also profoundly unhealthy. As one part of his argument, James writes convincingly of what a horrible experience it was for him when he subjected himself to the experiment of having his nose plugged for ten days. His account of an experiment on monkeys is also convincing: Egil P. Harvold’s hideous experiments in the 1970s and 80s would not go over well with PETA or with anyone who has ever really cared for animals. Working from a lab in San Francisco, he gathered a troop of rhesus monkeys and stuffed silicone

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The Federalist Papers #12: Union Makes it Much Easier to Get Tariff Revenue—Alexander Hamilton

July 12, 2020

For a nation whose formation was propelled by a tax rebellion, the question of which taxes were most acceptable and manageable was a crucial one. In the Federalist Papers #12, Alexander Hamilton argued that tariffs were likely to be more politically acceptable and manageable than taxes on land or personal property. One reason taxes on land or personal property could be difficult is that some farmers whose farms produced quite a bit might still not have much currency because they consumed much of what they produced and used barter for much of the rest. Trade would have been monetized to a much greater extent. Alexander Hamilton goes on to argue

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Freakonomics Podcast on the Difficulties in Scaling Up Interventions that Work in Initial Field Experiments

July 10, 2020

(Photo: Piqsels)
Why do so many promising solutions — in education, medicine, criminal justice, etc. — fail to scale up into great policy? And can a new breed of “implementation scientists” crack the code?
Listen and subscribe to our podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
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Dana SUSKIND: Usually when children are born deaf, they call it “nerve deafness.” But it’s really not the actual nerve — it’s little, tiny hair cells in the cochlea.
Dana Suskind is a physician-scientist at the University of Chicago. And — more dramatically — she is a pediatric surgeon who specializes in cochlear implants.

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Matt Adler’s Critique of Methods Based on the Value of a Statistical Life

July 9, 2020

Matt Adler is a law professor economists should be aware of. He is doing serious work related to constructing social welfare functions. And he explains the current state-of-the-art for constructing social welfare functions in a very understandable way. A Critique of Typical Value-of-a-Statistical-Life Methods“What Should We Spend to Save Lives in a Pandemic? A Critique of the Value of Statistical Life” is a nice introduction to Matt Adler. Reading it, I realize, for example, the naivete in how used the value of a statistical life in “Logarithms and Cost-Benefit Analysis Applied to the Coronavirus Pandemic.” The value of a statistical life is the

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Savannah Taylor: Lessons of the Labyrinth and Tapping Into Your Inner Wisdom

July 7, 2020

I am pleased to be able to share a guest post from my friend Savannah Taylor from my Co-Active Leadership Program Tribe. One of Savannah’s themes is about labyrinths, which I also love: I was surprised by how the labyrinth I walked sparked ideas about what matters in my life. Another theme is what I say in “Co-Active Coaching as a Tool for Maximizing Utility—Getting Where You Want in Life”: “ideally, everyone would have a coach, or more than one for different areas of their lives.” Here is Savannah: Most of my life, (up until last summer when I got divorced and started my entire life over), I’ve made a habit of looking outside of myself for answers. I constantly

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