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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

Christina Pazzanese on Michael Sandel

1 day ago

For tickets to Monday’s Faneuil Forum with Professor Michael Sandel, click here.
Stories of learning, teaching, and turning points, in the Experience series.
Michael Sandel joined the Government Department in 1980 to teach political theory largely on the strength of a dissertation that boldly critiqued the ideas of John Rawls, then a towering figure both at Harvard and in the field. Since then he has grown to be among the most influential political philosophers of his era, and one of the country’s most visible public intellectuals.
Sandel is perhaps best known for creating and teaching “Justice,” an overview of political philosophy that became one of the most famous and popular undergraduate courses in Harvard’s history. A winner of the Harvard-Radcliffe Phi Beta Kappa teaching

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Handling Immigration in a Way that Addresses Legitimate Concerns

2 days ago

Many people oppose immigration for either racist reasons or looking down on non-citizens in a way that is just as bad as racism. One way to suss out whether this is true in a given case is to call their bluff when they say (as they often do) that they are opposed to illegal immigration. OK, fine. Let’s be against illegal immigration, but let’s dramatically increase legal immigration. And, as I’ve often said on Twitter, if I get to choose the realized quantity of legal immigration that is a hardcore target, you can choose all the rules of who is favored for immigration and what hoops they have to jump through in order to reassure us that they are trying to assimilate and become American in whatever behaviors and attitudes we think are important in new Americans. Other than if it helps in

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Yuval Noah Harari: Why Fiction Trumps Truth

3 days ago

Many people believe that truth conveys power. If some leaders, religions or ideologies misrepresent reality, they will eventually lose to more clearsighted rivals. Hence sticking with the truth is the best strategy for gaining power. Unfortunately, this is just a comforting myth. In fact, truth and power have a far more complicated relationship, because in human society, power means two very different things.On the one hand, power means having the ability to manipulate objective realities: to hunt animals, to construct bridges, to cure diseases, to build atom bombs. This kind of power is closely tied to truth. If you believe a false physical theory, you won’t be able to build an atom bomb.On the other hand, power also means having the ability to manipulate human beliefs, thereby getting

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On Franziska Spritzler’s 14 Ways to Lower Your Insulin Levels

4 days ago

Insulin levels that are too high lead to obesity and directly to many other health problems. Insulin levels that are too high are very common. So you should worry about keeping your insulin levels within bounds even if you don’t yet have any particular worrisome symptoms. (See “Obesity Is Always and Everywhere an Insulin Phenomenon.”)Franziska’s article “14 Ways to Lower Your Insulin Levels” has a lot of good suggestions for lowering insulin levels—and in particular taming insulin spikes:Follow a Low-Carb DietTake Apple Cider VinegarWatch Portion SizesAvoid All Forms of SugarExercise RegularlyAdd Cinnamon to Foods and BeveragesStay Away From

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Christina Pazzanese on Amartya Sen

5 days ago

Life stories from Drew Faust, Howard Gardner, Annette Gordon-Reed, Martin Karplus, Toshiko Mori, Steven Pinker, E.O. Wilson, Paul Farmer, and many more, in the Experience series.
Coming from a long line of Hindu intellectuals and teachers, Amartya Sen enjoyed advantages and freedoms that few others did in a deeply-stratified India of the 1930s, during the waning days of the British empire.
Teaching was in his blood, and from an early age, Sen was struck by the stark economic inequities he saw all around him under the British raj. Identifying and understanding the causes and effects that inequalities, like those surrounding poverty or gender, had on people’s lives would become a lifelong intellectual lodestar for the political economist, moral philosopher, and social theorist.

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The Federalist Papers #32: The States Retain All Powers Not Explicitly Taken Away by the Constitution—Alexander Hamilton

6 days ago

The 10th Amendment to the US Constitution says:The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.The Wikipedia article on the 10th Amendment points out how similar this is to a provision in the US Articles of Confederation that preceded the Constitution:Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.In the Federalist Papers #32, Alexander Hamilton argues that the main body of the US

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James Wells on Grand Unification in Physics

8 days ago

When trying to explain what motivates me as a physicist, the film A Passage to India (1984) comes to mind. Based on the play by Santha Rama Rau, adapted from the novel by E M Forster, it describes the fallout from a rape case in the fictional city of Chandrapore, during the British Raj in India in the 1920s. What keeps the viewer’s attention is the subtlety of the relationships between the characters – particularly the fragile friendship between the man accused of the rape, Dr Aziz, and an Englishman, Mr Fielding. Data about identity alone, such as race, class, gender or educational status, can never reveal these dynamics nor capture why they fascinate us. When the case arrives in court, ostensibly similar people behave very differently in relation to the defendant. The dynamics of

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Alternate Realities: Republicans vs. Democrats—Gary Sargent Porter

9 days ago

I have known Gary Porter for over a quarter of a century. Gary and I share an interest in Mormonism and in politics. I’m delighted to be able to share this guest post from him. In America today Republicans and Democrats live in alternate realities.Nearly everyone recognizes that this is so, and yet no one understands how this is even possible. This is testament to our own lack of understanding of humans, of ourselves.What are the evolutionary traits that led to human survival? Which traits, conservative

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Will Knowland: The Patriarchy Paradox

9 days ago

When a teacher gets fired from Eton for an interesting YouTube video that seem unexceptionable (though it might be wrong on some points), it galls my free-speech values. So I thought I would highlight here what some found so offensive: the video above. This kind of debate is absolutely within bounds and exactly the sort of debate our society should be having. However much you believe one side, it it not healthy to have that side shouting the other down. Saying men and women are naturally different might be wrong, but it is not a flat-earth idea. And it is not OK to push down an idea because you think it is dangerous. That way lies tyranny. (We simply don’t have time to carefully consider every stupid idea. But we must make time to carefully consider every idea that seems dangerous to us.

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Diversity is Important for Cows, Too

11 days ago

When a high fraction of an agricultural product depends on one variety of plant or animal, that product is in danger from diseases that affect that variety. And there is also the danger that the one variety is unhealthy in some way. Jo Craven McGinty, in her May 28, 2021 Wall Street Journal article “Most Dairy Cows Are Kissing Cousins, and Scientists Are Worried,” writes:Holsteins give more milk than any other dairy cow in the country … The entire population provides 94% of the nation’s milk.But

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Tomas Hirst: Worrying about Secular Stagnation and Worrying about Overheating Now are Logically Inconsistent

12 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]There is one important note to add to what Tomas says. More aggregate demand from fiscal expansion being OK doesn’t mean that the makeup of that fiscal expansion is what it should be. We want to push to the economy’s capacity, and pushing against that capacity to raise inflation is a reasonable thing to do if you are not ready to embrace negative interest rate policy, but that capacity is still finite and should be used for providing the most important things. On negative interest rate policy, see my bibliographic post laying out what I have written on that topic:How and Why to Eliminate the Zero Lower Bound: A Reader’s GuidePermalink

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A Personal Mission Statement: Keep It Short

13 days ago

A powerful aid for making big life decisions is to have a personal mission statement or “life purpose” statement that has been tested by time. In her talk during University of Michigan Commencement this year, Twyla Tharp gave a very simple recipe for putting together a personal mission statement: choose one verb and one noun. Her two-word mission statement is “MAKE DANCE.”I tell about some lengthier statements of my chosen life purpose in “My Objective Function.” If I strip it down to one verb and one noun, I choose for my life purpose “LOVE TRUTH.” What is yours? Don’t Miss These Posts Related to Positive Mental Health and Maintaining One’s

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Ed Yong: How Wolves Contribute to Car Safety

14 days ago

To make that claim, Raynor and her co-authors, Corbett Grainger and Dominic Parker, gathered several lines of evidence. They showed that since the 1990s, when Wisconsin’s wolf populations started taking off, deer numbers plateaued in 29 counties where wolves are present, but rose in the 34 wolf-less counties. Whenever wolves first entered a county, the proportion of road accidents involving deer tended to fall. And although deer-vehicle collisions are specifically rarer in wolf-colonized counties, other types of collisions are not. These trends suggest that wolves really have made Wisconsin’s roads a little safer, irrespective of other factors. “It’s beyond the scope of the study to really nail causation, but the evidence is extremely compelling in favor of wolves being an underlying

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Pandemic Passage: My Past 12 Months in Blogging

15 days ago

Today is the 9th anniversary of this blog, "Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal." My first post, "What is a Supply-Side Liberal?" appeared on May 28, 2012. I have written an anniversary post every year since then:A Year in the Life of a Supply-Side LiberalThree RevolutionsBeaconsWhy I BlogMy Objective FunctionA Barycentric AutobiographyCrafting Simple, Accurate Messages about Complex ProblemsOn Human PotentialEvery year, events in the world and events in my own blog inspire blog posts. On this 9th blogiversary, I want to take you on a tour of how events, both personal and national, affected my blogging in the past year. Let me begin by saying

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James Carville: Wokeness is a Problem and We All Know It

16 days ago

I called James Carville hoping to get his thoughts on President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.
He obliged — then, one question in, brushed aside the exercise to talk instead about why the Democrats might be poised to squander their political advantage against a damaged GOP.
His failure to cooperate may have been for the best since the first 100 days ritual can sometimes lead to dull, dutiful analysis. What Carville offered up instead was a blunt critique of his own party even after a successful 2020 election cycle — a sequel of sorts to his fulminations during last year’s Democratic primaries. The longtime Democratic strategist is mostly pleased with Biden, but it’s where much of the party seems to be going that has him worried.
“Wokeness is a problem,” he told me, “and we all

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Mary Shepperson: How Ancient Lentils Reveal the Origins of Social Inequality

17 days ago

I should be in the Kurdish region of Iraq right now knee-deep in Late Chalcolitic archaeology, but instead I’m watching Bake Off in Crewe. The autumn excavation season in the Kurdish region is cancelled and most of the international teams have left, including the University College London project I was working on and the British Museum’s training excavation at Qalatga Darband. The cessation of international flights into and out of Iraqi Kurdistan, imposed by Baghdad after the Kurdish independence referendum on 25 September, has put a stop to archaeology in the region just at the best time of the year for digging. It’s a shame, because before we were bundled off to the airport things were going very nicely at the modest mounded site of Gurga Chiya. After five seasons of work over six years

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Hypoallergenic Nuts

18 days ago

As I wrote in “Our Delusions about ‘Healthy’ Snacks—Nuts to That!” nuts are almost the only portable snack that is actually healthy—just check for sugar or easily digestible starch as an ingredient. Remember that almost all commercially available fruit has a lot of sugar in it—partly because it was bread that way. See for example “Nutritionally, Not All Apple Varieties Are Alike.” Also, beware: although raw nuts aren’t that hard to find, many packaged nuts have sugar added. Others have peanut oil added, which is OK if and only if you think peanut oil is OK. Still others have salt added, which I don’t worry about. Because nuts have so many pluses,

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The Federalist Papers #31: Alexander Hamilton’s Attempt at a Formal Argument for a Robust Federal Power of Taxation

20 days ago

It is said that at the door of Plato’s academy were the words “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter.” For those with the kind of Classical education common to many of the rich and cultured in Alexander Hamilton’s 18th century audience, this would have given geometry great prestige. In the Federalist Papers #31, Alexander Hamilton tries to borrow that prestige to make an argument for the proposed constitution’s power of federal taxation—and to castigate the opponents of the Constitution as if they were knuckleheads who can’t understand a geometric proof. Alexander Hamilton begins with this abstract statement of the argument:there cannot be an

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Scientists Construct Double Helix Molecule from Hexahydroxytriphenylene Monomers

21 days ago

These synthesized helical covalent polymers represent a huge advance for this critical and understudied field, researchers say
Double helical covalent polymers—which are spiraling collections of nature’s building blocks—are fundamental to life itself, and yet, despite decades of research, scientists have never been able to synthesize them in their entirety like their non-helical brethren—until now. 

 Formation of pairs of entwined helical strands through an array of hydrogen-bonding interactions along the a axis. The closest interstrand distance within one pair was measured from Ar–H to H–Ar (6.5 Å). 

Optical images of the large single crystals of 1. 1 grew in elongated square bipyramid shapes. Inset: dark-field optical microscope image with high contrast at the edges.

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Michael Manville: How Parking Destroys Cities

22 days ago

For each individual project, parking requirements can seem reasonable; in many cases, they mollify worried neighbors. A zoning board in Boston, for example, recently rejected a homeless housing project when nearby residents said it had too little parking. The project might still get built, with fewer units and more parking, and perhaps to the casual observer the difference is small. Over many parcels and many decades, however, the units lost and parking spaces gained add up, and the sum of our seemingly reasonable decisions is an unreasonable, unaffordable, and unsustainable city.This city, the parking city, can’t have rowhouses and townhouses that sit flush with one another and come right up to the street. It can’t reuse handsome old buildings that come straight to their lot line, so

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Should Policy Tilt So Far in Favor of Homeownership?

23 days ago

In the United States, the idea that homeownership is better than renting is a political article of faith. But is it? In his July 13, 2013 New York Times op-ed “Owning a Home Isn’t Always a Virtue,” Bob Shiller makes the case that renting has advantages, too. Adding bullet points added to separate ideas, he writes:… renters are more mobile. That means they are more likely to accept jobs in another city, or even on the other side of a large metropolis. In addition, it’s hardly wise to put all of one’s life savings into a single, highly leveraged investment in a home — as millions of underwater borrowers today can attest.To see that more renting and

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Andy Norman: The Cause of America’s Post-Truth Predicament

24 days ago

In the hours after our new president was sworn in on January 20, an online discussion channel followed by 35,000 QAnon believers was rife with disbelief. “It simply doesn’t make sense that we all got played,” one poster wrote. But they did get played. So did we all.

Of course, we were played in different ways. QAnon devotees were fed a ludicrous story about Satan-worshipping, “deep state” pedophiles plotting to oust President Trump. The anonymous source of the story—“Q”—promised a purge, and tens of thousands pinned their hopes on that happening before Biden could take office. Clearly, Q played them.

The insurrectionists of January 6 were also played. At his rally to “stop the steal,” then-President Trump fired up his audience, then sent them to the Capitol to prevent the certification

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How the Ancient Greeks Invented Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing to Deal with Trauma

25 days ago

EMDR—eye movement desensitizing and reprocessing—is one of the stranger psychological treatments. But there is good evidence that it helps people who have been through traumatic experiences. About this, let me draw on the Angus Fletcher’s fascinating March 24, 2021 Wall Street Journal article “The Cathartic Technology of Greek Tragedy,” which in turn draws on his new book Wonderworks: The 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature. Unless noted otherwise, all quotations here are from “The Cathartic Technology of Greek Tragedy.” Angus writes:… it can help to sweep our eyes from side to side while we mentally review the trauma. This

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The Golden Mean as Concavity of Objective Functions

27 days ago

Image sourceThe “Golden Ratio” corresponds to a rectangle where taking a square out of the rectangle leaves behind a smaller rectangle that is similar to the original rectangle. It is sometimes called the “Golden Mean.” Felicitously, the illustration above of the Golden Mean in action also provides a concave function, if you look at only the top of the curve..

The Wikipedia article “Golden mean (philosophy)” currently begins:The golden mean or golden middle way is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. It appeared in Greek thought at least as early as the Delphic Maxim nothing to excess and

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David Brooks on the Coming Cooptation of Wokeness

28 days ago

My friend Rod Dreher recently had a blog post for The American Conservative called “Why Are Conservatives in Despair?” He explained that conservatives are in despair because a hostile ideology — wokeness or social justice or critical race theory — is sweeping across America the way Bolshevism swept across the Russian Empire before the October Revolution in 1917.

This ideology is creating a “soft totalitarianism” across wide swaths of American society, he writes. In the view of not just Dreher but also many others, it divides the world into good and evil based on crude racial categories. It has no faith in persuasion, or open discourse, but it shames and cancels anybody who challenges the official catechism. It produces fringe absurdities like “ethnomathematics,” which proponents say

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Paul Stametz: 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

29 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Don’t miss my other post about mushrooms: “Replacing Meat with Mushrooms—In Whole or in Part.”Also, you might be interested in Eugenia Bone’s Wall Street Journal review shown below of Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard. The most interesting passage is this:It has long been established that plants trade some of the sugar they make for micronutrients foraged in the soil by fungi, and there had already been some research done that showed the link between fungi and trees. Ms. Simard’s study discovered that fungi in fact attach to the roots of multiple trees of different species, creating pipelines by which a forest community might share nutrients and other molecules and thereby “challenge the prevailing theory that cooperation is of lesser

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Liz Cheney on Democracy and the Rule of Law

May 13, 2021

Link to the full text of Liz Cheney’s May 11, 2021 speech on the floor of the House of RepresentativesFor whatever length of time Donald Trump continues to have political influence, Liz Cheney’s six-and-a half-minute speech yesterday should be required viewing for all citizens of the United States. I found myself getting choked up because she points powerfully to the blessing of having a political system that gives us freedom and our need to tend the foundations of that system. In addition to invoking the principles of democracy and the rule of law, Liz Cheney also invokes many core principles of the Republican party. She bids fair to become the leader of the wing of the Republican Party not in bondage to Donald Trump. Liz Cheney has shown a lot of courage. Challenging Donald Trump so

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