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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

Kenneth W. Phifer: Is Death Meaningful?

1 day ago

When I left Mormonism for the Unitarian Universalism in 2000, Ken Phifer was the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He gave beautiful sermons. I am grateful for his permission to reprint one of them here: “Is Death Meaningful,” his June 10, 2007 sermon. Ken’s sermons “The Faith of a Humanist” and “My Sermon” also appear on And you will find links to some of my own UU sermons here. Also, Noah Smith has a related guest religion post here on “You Are Already in the Afterlife.”Below are Ken’s words. Is death meaningful? Is there meaning in the fact that I

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Lila MacLellan: You Can Be a Better Negotiator Just by Listening Carefully

2 days ago

“You rarely learn anything while your mouth is open,” says Simon Letchford, managing director of Scotwork, a consulting company that specializes in corporate negotiations.The truism is top of mind right now as he watches US president Donald Trump prep for a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, over denuclearization. Neither leader is exactly known for his ability to stop talking and listen, Letchford says. But he’s observed executives with decades of negotiation experience in high-pressure situations nevertheless make the same mistake: “They tend to confuse negotiating with persuasion,” he says.Rather than trying to convince people of your world view, Letchford argues, “there’s usually much more value to be had in a deal by being curious about the other side’s needs and

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Most Patients are not 100% Honest when Talking to their Doctors

3 days ago

ANN ARBOR—When your doctor asks how often you exercise, do you give her an honest answer? How about when she asks what you’ve been eating lately? If you’ve ever stretched the truth, you’re not alone.
Between 60 and 80 percent of people surveyed have not been forthcoming with their doctors about information that could be relevant to their health, according to a new study published online in JAMA Network Open.
Besides fibbing about diet and exercise, more than a third of respondents didn’t speak up when they disagreed with their doctor’s recommendation. Another common scenario was failing to admit they didn’t understand their clinician’s instructions.
“While the idea that patients may not share everything with their clinicians is perhaps to be expected, we were surprised at how common it

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Joshua Goldstein and Staffan Qvist: The Argument for Expanding Nuclear Power

4 days ago

In their op-ed “Only Nuclear Energy Save the Planet,” I think Joshua Goldstein and Staffan Qvist underestimate how quickly solar energy can ramp up if it becomes dramatically cheaper (including becoming dramatically cheaper to install, say by solar collectors that are thin, flexible sheets). Nevertheless, the numbers they point to are daunting:Any serious effort to decarbonize the world economy will require, then, a great deal more clean energy, on the order of 100 trillion kilowatt-hours per year, by our calculations—roughly equivalent to today’s entire annual fossil-fuel usage. A key variable is speed. To reach the target within three

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Alex Gray: Treating Violent Crime Like a Disease

5 days ago

In November 2018, five people were stabbed to death on the streets of London in the space of six days. Three of the victims were teenagers. That spate of killings followed a summer filled with harrowing reports of knife violence.

After several years of decline, knife offences in England are on the rise again. According to the most recent crime figures from the Office of National Statistics, offences involving a knife or a sharp instrument are at the highest level ever recorded, at almost 40,000 for the year to June 2018.

A forensic investigator recovers a knife after man was arrested on Whitehall in Westminster, central London, Britain, April 27, 2017

Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Hospital statistics in England back up the trend, showing a 7% rise in

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After Gastric Bypass Surgery, Insulin Goes Down Before Weight Loss has Time to Happen

6 days ago

In “Obesity Is Always and Everywhere an Insulin Phenomenon” I argue that insulin levels are a crucial determinant of weight gain and weight loss. I follow up on this idea in further posts, and apply this idea in Today, let me point your attention toward an important study that gives more evidence of insulin’s importance for weight loss. In “Loss of Insulin Resistance after Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery: a Time Course Study,” Kusal Wickremesekera, Geoff Miller, Tissa DeSilva Naotunne, Graham Knowles and Richard S Stubbs write:Gastric bypass has repeatedly been shown to improve and even cure type 2 diabetes by substantially improving

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Liam Dillon: California Governor Gavin Newsom Threatens to Cut State Funding from Cites that Don’t Approve Enough Housing

9 days ago

For instance, city and county restrictions on homebuilding are more consequential in the Bay Area — which has seen 750,000 new jobs added but just 167,000 new homes built over the last eight years, according to construction industry statistics — than in parts of the state where there’s been less economic development, said David Garcia, policy director at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation.

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Mark Whisman, Anna Gilmour and Julia Salinger: A Strong Negative Correlation Between Quality of Marriage and Later Mortality

10 days ago

CU Boulder researchers find link between marriage quality and mortality
If you’ve taken the plunge, you’ve likely heard some variation of the popular marriage expression: “Happy spouse, peaceful house.”
But new research from the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that the phrase doesn’t go far enough and that the quality of your marriage may be linked to how long you live.
A trio of CU Boulder researchers in the psychology and neuroscience department recently set out to explore the connection between marriage quality and mortality. The findings of their study were published in the journal Health Psychology in November.

Researchers Mark Whisman, Anna Gilmour and Julia Salinger.

“We found that the odds of dying for married people who described their marriage as ‘not too happy’ was

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Peter Conti-Brown: Can Trump Fire Jerome Powell?

11 days ago

Peter Conti-Brown is my coauthor on a paper in progress about negative interest rate law. I am grateful to Peter for permission to make his latest Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Can Trump Fire Jerome Powell? It’s a Political Question,” a guest post here. Here it is:‘This is a challenging moment for central banking,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said shortly after his February appointment. He wasn’t kidding. Weeks later, President Trump launched the first in a series of broadsides against the Fed. In recent months Mr. Trump has called the central bank “crazy” and “a much bigger problem than China.” The conflict has been mostly

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Elissa Nadworny and Jon Marcus: ‘Going To Office Hours Is Terrifying’ And Other Tales Of Rural Students In College

12 days ago

Enlarge this image

Cameron Russell (left) is a freshman at the University of Michigan from rural Louisiana. His mentor is Elijah Taylor, a senior who grew up in Detroit.

Diane Weiss for The Hechinger Report

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Diane Weiss for The Hechinger Report

Two students share a laptop in the atrium of the chemistry building at the University of Michigan. One, Cameron Russell, is white, a freshman from a rice-growing parish in Louisiana; the other, Elijah Taylor, is black,

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3 Achievable Resolutions for Weight Loss

13 days ago

A week after New Year’s Day, many people have already abandoned—or even forgotten—their New Year’s resolutions. So now is the time for some resolutions that will work better. Let me suggest three resolutions for weight loss that work well together and have three helpful features:They each have a bright line for whether you have done them or not. They each are separately helpful, so even if you fail on one or two, the other one or two will still make a big difference, and you can feel good about that. Each one, if you ever temporarily fall off the wagon and fail to do it on one occasion, has a fallback activity that will put you ahead. Here

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June Gruber: The Flip Side of Happiness

14 days ago

We stock our shelves with books and pills intended to make us happy, but CU psychologist June Gruber warns that too much of a good thing can backfire.
June Gruber was a wide-eyed graduate student in psychology and just beginning her clinical training when she met a patient who forever changed her view of happiness.
The woman, a middle-aged artist and mother of two, spoke with exuberance and optimism, describing big plans to change the world with paintings inspired by her direct conversations with the divine. But she also had trouble holding a job, lived in her car and generally scraped by.
“She seemed happy, but it was in a way that was making her neglect real-world concerns and causing her potential harm,” said Gruber, now an assistant professor of psychology at CU Boulder. “That

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Christian Kimball on Middle-Way Mormonism

15 days ago

Although his spiritual journey has been different from mine, my brother Chris has also wrestled with the question of what to think of Mormonism. One of the other guest posts by Chris that I list at the bottom is “Chris Kimball: Having a Prophet in the Family, which makes clear why neither of us could escape that question. Below are Chris’s words:There has been an unusual flurry of talk lately about “Middle Way Mormons.” The Salt Lake Tribune (Peggy Fletcher Stack); By Common Consent (Sam Brunson); Wheat and Tares (a series); and even Times and Seasons ran a piece.  I commented, I provided background, I was quoted, but I have resisted doing

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Leon Binkovitz on the Importance of Understanding the ‘Reference Neighborhood’

17 days ago

This is problematic for a few reasons, argues Howell. For one, it hampers the research. "[S]cholars have limited their ability to illuminate how systemic structures perpetuate inequality," writes Howell. So while W. E. B. Du Bois is increasingly recognized for his foundational work in sociology, Howell argues, "the field still conceptualizes Du Bois’ assertions as helping contextualize the Black experience and not as a theoretical framework in its own right that provides insights into all US neighborhoods." 
The problem of largely unexamined "reference neighborhood" has implications beyond scholarship as well, spilling into policy and public discourse. "In short," notes Howell, "what empirical research identifies as a social problem has far-reaching implications in the real world."

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2018’s Most Popular Posts

18 days ago

The "Key Posts" link at the top of my blog lists all important posts through the end of 2016. Along with "2017’s Most Popular Posts," this is intended as a complement to that list. (Also, my most popular storified Twitter discussions are here, and you can see other recent posts by clicking on the Archive link at the top of my blog.) I put links to the most popular posts from 2018 below into four groups: popular new posts in 2018 on diet and health, popular new posts in 2018 on other topics, and popular older posts in those two categories.I am no stranger to bragging; however, I give statistics not to brag, but because I am a data hound. I

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Christmas Dinner 2018 with the Kimballs in Colorado

20 days ago

Photography in this blog post by Jordan Matthew Kimball

Our son Jordan’s long-time girlfriend, Caroline, is a fabulous cook. She cooked Christmas dinner for Jordan, Gail, me and herself this year. What is even more remarkable, Caroline was good enough and talented enough to dream up and create dishes consistent with the way Gail and I are trying to eat—in accordance with principles I write about here on this blog in my weekly diet and health posts. Caroline graciously wrote up the recipes below.

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John Locke: No One is Above the Law, which Must Be Established and Promulgated and Designed for the Good of the People; Taxes and Governmental Succession Require Approval of Elected Representatives

22 days ago

John Locke’s views are important because so many of the framers of the US Constitution had read his works. In Sections 141-142 of his 2d Treatise on Government: Of Civil Government, he completes and summarizes his Chapter XI (“Of the Extent of the Legislative Power”) delineation of what powers rulers have and what they don’t have. In reading these sections, it is important to remember that John Locke uses the word “legislative” to refer to the ruler or rulers of a commonwealth. As with taxation, John Locke views the transfer of power from one ruler to another as something that requires authorization by elected representatives—though his

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Henry Grabar: Minneapolis Confronts Its History of Housing Segregation

24 days ago

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Bloomberg #2—>False Advertising for College is Pretty Much the Norm

25 days ago

The administration of President Donald Trump just made it easier for for-profit colleges to get away with making fake promises about things like graduation rates and job placements. That’s regrettable. But let’s not let prestigious institutions off the hook. They aren’t exactly rigorous when they tout the benefits of higher education, either.Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed new rules to make it harder for students to get loan forgiveness from schools that lured them with false advertising. Notably, the government wants to make aggrieved students show that the schools actually intended to defraud them, a high burden of proof.The

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Cass Sunstein: Change ‘Default’ Option to Ease Student Loan Debt Crisis

26 days ago

Student loans are imposing crushing burdens on millions of young Americans. According to one account, about one-quarter of the borrowers who began repaying their loans in 2005, 2007 or 2009 have since defaulted on them.That number greatly understates the economic hardship, not to mention the daily anxiety, produced by the pressures of repayment. What if there was an easy way to respond to the student debt crisis? A response that did not involve heavy-handed regulatory interventions?Such a response is identified in new research by James Cox and Daniel Kreisman of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and Susan Dynarski of the University of Michigan. Their recommended reform is stunningly

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Black Bean Brownies

27 days ago

Christmas is a day for treats. But it doesn’t have to be a day of sugar. Our massage therapist Shannaw Martin pointed us to a recipe for black bean brownies that my wife Gail then modified. These brownies cannot match the addictive quality of sugary brownies, but for those who have gone off sugar and flour, the recipe below produces brownies that are surprisingly good. Black Bean BrowniesIngredients:2/3 cup dried black beans that have been soaked overnight in 3 cups water—ideally with some baking soda added—which is then drained and replaced with another 3 cups water, then cooked in a pressure cooker. Follow the instructions of your

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Caitlin Hu: Why Monsters Haunt Christmas in Europe but not America

28 days ago

The worst isn’t the screams or the snow or the mind-numbing blare of “Night on Bald Mountain“ on repeat. It’s the cowbells: a rusty jangle that means the Christmas monsters are coming.Until Jan. 6, demons, witches and monsters haunt Europe.The season of terror actually begins on Dec. 5, the eve of Saint Nicholas’ Day, with public parades of the saint’s supposed companions: Across the Italian, Austrian and Slovenian Alps, cowbell-slung demons called Krampus storm mountain towns. In France, the legendary serial killer and butcher Pere Fouettard (Father Whipper) threatens naughty children with his whip, while in Belgium and the Netherlands, a controversial child-kidnapper called Zwarte Piet (Black Piet) rides through canals on a steamship.Like relatives returning home for the holidays, more

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Kenneth W. Phifer: My Sermon

29 days ago

When I left Mormonism for the Unitarian Universalism in 2000, Ken Phifer was the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He gave beautiful sermons. I am grateful for his permission to reprint one of them here. Ken’s sermon The Faith of a Humanist also appears on And you will find links to some of my own UU sermons here.Below are Ken’s words. It is a truism among those of us who have chosen homiletics, that is, preaching, as our field of expertise that we each have only one sermon in us. Since our work requires that we deliver far more than just one sermon, and preaching the same

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Nolan Gray’s Interview of Urban Planner Alain Bertaud about His New Book, ‘Order Without Design’

December 22, 2018

Shoppers walk through the central textile market to buy new clothes in downtown Jakarta. Supri Supri/Reuters Urban planner Alain Bertaud’s new book, Order Without Design, argues that cities are really shaped by market forces, not visionaries.Since first crisscrossing the urbanizing outskirts of Sana’a—one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities—by Land Rover in 1970, Alain Bertaud has gained a reputation as a “real-life Indiana Jones of urban planning.”

But there’s also a Forrest Gump-like quality to Bertaud’s lengthy resume. His work at organizations like New York City’s Department of City Planning and the World Bank places him at key moments in recent urban history. He can tell you about organizing East Harlem outreach with the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s,

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Kriston Capps on Emily Gallagher’s Research: For the Poor, Obamacare Can Reduce Late Rent Payments

December 21, 2018

When Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision in 2012 to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the court set the stage for a natural experiment in economics. His majority opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius invalidated the part of the law that would have penalized states that refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion, making it optional for states to extend coverage for the most vulnerable Americans. As a result, poor adults in some states would receive health insurance, while poor adults in others would go without.

The court’s carveout made it possible to compare the haves with the have-nots across state lines. A new study does precisely that—and finds that access to subsidized health insurance dramatically boosts financial outcomes. Those who were able to acquire health

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