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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 21st-Century Malaise of Males

6 days ago

While attention has been focused on the dominance of high-end males in our society, low-end males have have been falling behind. Let me quote a few statistics from Douglas Belkin’s September 6, 2021 Wall Street Journal article “A Generation of American Men Give Up on College” (bullets added to separate passages):At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%, according to enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research group.After six years of college, 65% of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018

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Famous Projects that were Completed Surprisingly Quickly

8 days ago

Some examples of people quickly accomplishing ambitious things together.

BankAmericard. Dee Hock was given 90 days to launch the BankAmericard card (which became the Visa card), starting from scratch. He did. In that period, he signed up more than 100,000 customers. Source: Electronic Value Exchange.

P-80 Shooting Star. Kelly Johnson and his team designed and delivered the P-80 Shooting Star, the first jet fighter used by the USAF, in 143 days. Source: Skunk Works.

Marinship. "Shipyard construction was begun promptly after a telegram from the United States Maritime Commission was received by the W. A. Bechtel Company. The telegram was received on 2 March 1942, the Sausalito site selected on 3 March, and a proposal to build the shipyard presented in Washington DC was made on 9

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Life Lessons from Math: Sequencing and Pacing Projects—Joseph Kimball and Miles Kimball

9 days ago

Joseph Kimball

In the last year I have written 3 blog posts on one theme: I was motivated just as much by the practical lessons I was learning myself as by the usual blogging motivation of communicating a cool idea. Projects that only really start having a payoff flow after they are completed are very common, so it matters.Here is what I feel I learned from writing those 3 posts:Projects that only start paying off when they are completed should be done at a relatively quick pace, only reined in when the speed with which cost increases with the pace becomes relatively high (technically, that means pushing up the pace until the elasticity of flow

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Can a Fasting-Induced Changing-of-the-Guard for Immune Cells Help Treat Auto-Immune Diseases?

11 days ago

Evolution could assume many things during the millions of years of human evolution. One was that with the challenges of getting food and avoiding predators and dealing with rivals of their own and related species, hominins would not be sedentary. The other was that hominins would go through substantial periods of time with little or no food. (These assumptions are also good ones for most other animals as well.) As a result of these assumptions, human bodies malfunction when they don’t have some minimum

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The Federalist Papers #38—James Madison Analyzes the Proposed Constitution Using the Principle of Opportunity Cost: What is the Alternative to the Consensus of the Constitutional Convention?

13 days ago

In the Federalist Papers #38, James Madison implicitly uses the principle of opportunity cost to argue for the proposed constitution. On page 12 of their Principles of Economics, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers define opportunity cost this way: The opportunity cost of something is the next best alternative you have to give up.They add: The true cost of something is what you have to give up to get it.James Madison uses the principle of opportunity cost in two ways. First, for those who think of the Articles of Confederation as the next best alternative to the proposed constitution, he points out that the Articles of Confederation would either

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What are the Jewish High Holy Days? A Look at Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and a Month of Celebrating Renewal and Moral Responsibility—Samuel Boyd

14 days ago

Religious calendars and festivals can force people to encounter certain ideas in the year
Over the next few weeks, members of the Jewish faith will observe the High Holy Days in the month of Tishrei in the Jewish calendar, usually in September and October. These holidays commemorate concepts such as renewal, forgiveness, freedom and joy.
As a scholar of the Bible and the ancient world, I am continually impressed with how the history of these festivals offers consolation and encourages people toward living well, even during a pandemic.
What are the High Holy Days?
Of the two main High Holy Days, also called the High Holidays, the first is Rosh Hashanah, or the New Year celebration. It is one of two new year celebrations in the Jewish faith, the other being Passover in the spring.
The second

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How Ventilation Could Stop Every Respiratory Virus at Once—Sarah Zhang

15 days ago

Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET on September 7, 2021When London vanquished cholera in the 19th century, it took not a vaccine, or a drug, but a sewage system. The city’s drinking water was intermingling with human waste, spreading bacteria in one deadly outbreak after another. A new comprehensive network of sewers separated the two. London never experienced a major cholera outbreak after 1866. All that was needed was 318 million bricks, 23 million cubic feet of concrete, and a major reengineering of the urban landscape.The 19th and early 20th century saw a number of ambitious public-health efforts like this. The United States eliminated yellow fever and malaria, for example, with a combination of pesticides, wide-scale landscape management, and window screens that kept mosquitoes at bay. One by

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On ‘Digital Currencies Pave Way for Deeply Negative Interest Rates’ by James Mackintosh

16 days ago

Even though the monetary policy talk right now is all about when the Fed will reduce asset purchases and then raise interest rates, the development of central bank digital currency has brought negative interest rate policy into the news. In his September 8, 2021 Wall Street Journal article, James Mackintosh writes that “Digital Currencies Pave Way for Deeply Negative Interest Rates.” James defines central bank digital currencies this way: … central bank-issued money usable by you and me, just as bank notes are. It might (or might not) pay interest, but it is different to money in an ordinary bank account, which is created by the commercial bank;

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Cleaning Up the Worst, Hyper-Polluting Power Plants Could Have a Huge Effect—Don Grant

17 days ago

A new study from CU Boulder finds that focusing on the ‘big’ picture by reducing the emissions of super-polluting power plants could drastically reshape the climate crisis
To slow the advent of our climate crisis, researchers have long argued for rapid action like transitioning to clean energy. 
However, given the scope of today’s industrialization, completely transitioning to clean energy is a daunting undertaking, one that many companies and governments around the world have been hesitant to fully take on.
University of Colorado Boulder sociologist Don Grant and his colleagues in Environmental Research Letters, though, have pinpointed one culprit that could make a big difference: hyper-polluting power plants.

Don Grant.

Top-Down Changes
Grant and his team examined data from more

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Don’t Think Fat vs. Carbs vs. Protein; It’s Good vs. Bad Fat, Carbs and Protein

18 days ago

Anything that tears people away from sugar is likely to be a dietary improvement. But lowfat vs. lowcarb, or how much protein you eat is not the key to health and weight loss. Whether you are eating good or bad fat, good or bad carbs and good or bad protein—along with when you eat—are much more powerful in affecting health and weight loss. One of the better dietary randomized controlled trials made that point. See “Why a Low-Insulin-Index Diet Isn’t Exactly a ‘Lowcarb’ Diet.” Good vs. Bad Fats. Distinguishing good from bad fats is the easiest: avoid transfats. These mainly appear in highly processed food, so avoiding processed food should take

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Mormonism Has More Important Things to Preach than the Purported Evils of Gay Marriage

20 days ago

There are many, many good things about Mormonism. Its anti-gay-marriage stance is not one of them. Mormon apostle Jeffrey Holland’s recent speech at BYU indicates a strikingly high priority on an anti-gay-marriage message. (I don’t think this says much at all about Jeffrey Holland as an individual Mormon Church leader. He may well have been assigned by more senior Mormon Church leaders to give the anti-gay-marriage message that he did at BYU.) Views differ, and religiously-based anti-gay-marriage views should be given some respect even by those like me who viscerally disagree with those views. But to me it seems a gross distortion (or a gross

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Employers Not Paying Wages They Owe is a Huge Problem, Even Compared to Other Forms of Theft—Brady Meixell and Ross Eisenbrey

21 days ago

Wage theft—employers’ failure to pay workers money they are legally entitled to—affects far more people than more well-known and feared forms of theft such as bank robberies, convenience store robberies, street and highway robberies, and gas station robberies. Employers steal billions of dollars from their employees each year by working them off the clock, by failing to pay the minimum wage, or by cheating them of overtime pay they have a right to receive. Survey research shows that well over two-thirds of low-wage workers have been the victims of wage theft.
In 2012, there were 292,074 robberies of all kinds, including bank robberies, residential robberies, convenience store and gas station robberies, and street robberies. The total value of the property taken

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Rachel Laudan: Cooking in World History

22 days ago

The full interview between Marian Tupy and Rachel Laudan can be found here. The transcript is below.

Marian Tupy: Hello, and welcome to a new episode of Human Progress podcast. Recently, I’ve posted a number of articles about the dramatically declining prices of food in the United States over the last 100 years. And a couple of my correspondents complained that food today is less healthy, leads to obesity, and has lower nutritional value than was the case in the past. So to set the matter straight, I’m absolutely delighted to speak to a celebrated historian of food and cooking, Rachel Laudan, whose book, Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History, came out in 2013 to much acclaim. So with that, Rachel, welcome.

Rachel Laudan: Thank you very much.

Marian Tupy: So let me

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Chris Kimball Reacts to ‘The Supreme Court Confronts the Principles of Multivariable Calculus in Extending Employment Protections to Gay and Transgender Employees’

23 days ago

1. I think the meaning of "sex" in the 1964 Civil Rights Act is a relatively hard question. I’m not satisfied the Supreme Court got it right. Much as I think we should have protection for sex and gender minorities, there is a risk that the Supreme Court is legislating here. The fact that our Congress finds it so difficult to do perfectly reasonable things is not a good excuse for legislation by courts, in my opinion, for the long run.2. Complexities in but-for analyses are well understood. At least, they were well understood in my law school in the early 1980s. The University of Chicago Law School was at the forefront of law and economics,

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Karl’s List of Alleged Scandals in Economics

24 days ago

In order to get one’s priors appropriately calibrated, it is important to know about bad things that people have done. But it is also important to get things right about which specific accusations are really true and which are unfounded. “Exogeny Karl” defends Economics Job Market Rumors as a useful muckraking site, giving this list of alleged scandals in economics that EJMR helped publicize. Don’t believe all of these accusations. For example, Claudia Sahm effectively debunks the accusation against her here and here. See also here. This was never a credible allegation. I’d be glad to hear arguments for or against the truth of any of the other allegations Karl makes. On Reinhart and Rogoff’s errors, Yichuan Wang and I say our piece in On other aspects of Economics Job Market Rumors, my

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Open Conspiracies, Exhibit B: Glyphosate

25 days ago

In “Open Conspiracies, Exhibit A: Whitewashing Sugar” I argue that people should worry much more about open conspiracies than “secret conspiracies.” An “open conspiracy” is one for which anyone who is exceptionally diligent can learn all about from public available information, but for which there are big efforts to keep people from knowing about it easily. There are many reasons to worry about highly processed food. For examples, see:One more reason to worry about highly processed food is its heavy reliance on grains that are routinely doused with large amounts of pesticides. For example, quoting from “Corporations can legally put carcinogens in

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James Madison: Why the Constitution Isn’t Perfect—And Why No Constitution Could Be

27 days ago

FEDERALIST NO. 37Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper Form of GovernmentFrom the Daily AdvertiserFriday, January 11, 1788.Author: James MadisonTo the People of the State of New York:IN REVIEWING the defects of the existing Confederation, and showing that they cannot be supplied by a government of less energy than that before the public, several of the most important principles of the latter fell of course under consideration. But as the ultimate object of these papers is to determine clearly and fully the merits of this Constitution, and the expediency of adopting it, our plan cannot be complete without taking a more

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Ed Simon on Ludwig Wittgenstein

28 days ago

“Well, God has arrived. I met him on the 5:15 train. He has a plan to stay in Cambridge permanently.” —John Maynard Keynes in a letter to his wife describing Ludwig Wittgenstein (1929)
Somewhere along the crooked scar of the eastern front, during those acrid summer months of the Brusilov Offensive in 1916, when the Russian Empire pierced into the lines of the Central Powers and perhaps more than one million men would be killed from June to September, a howitzer commander stationed with the Austrian 7th Army would pen gnomic observations in a notebook, having written a year before that the “facts of the world are not the end of the matter.” Among the richest men in Europe, the 27-year-old had the option to defer military service, and yet an ascetic impulse compelled Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Sequencing of Projects, Continued

August 26, 2021

The objective is to minimize total cost: Total Cost = Cost of Completing Projects + Cost of Delay in Getting the Benefits from Completed Projects

One thing I leave undone in “Sequencing of Projects” is determining which project should be done first after accounting for the fact that later projects should be done more slowly, so that changing the order optimally means changing how slowly each project is done.

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Justin Wolfers on How Women are Treated in Economics Seminars

August 25, 2021

In 2014, the International Monetary Fund named Justin Wolfers, PhD ’01, one of the "25 Economists Under 45 Who Are Shaping the Way We Think About the Global Economy". Recently, though, the University of Michigan Professor turned his gaze on the discipline of economics itself, specifically, the way that women in the field are treated. 

You recently collaborated with colleagues Alicia Sasser Modestino, PhD ’01, Muriel Niederle, PhD ’02, and Pascaline Dupas on a study of women and bias in economics presentations. What was the question you were trying to answer, what was your method, and what did you find?

The big picture question is “Why are women still underrepresented in economics?” There’s an emerging body of research on this topic. To summarize it, every rock we look under we find

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Aseem Malhotra: Avoiding Sugar is Much More Powerful Than Taking Statins

August 24, 2021

Few drugs divide the medical and scientific establishment like statins, and one person in particular has been on a mission to change the nation’s attitude towards the cholesterol-lowering drug once and for all.“This has been a 10-year journey for me to try to understand a better way to prevent, manage and potentially reverse heart disease,” says Dr Aseem Malhotra, the London-based cardiologist and anti-obesity campaigner who co-founded Action on Sugar before turning his attention to statins.“I was trying to understand why we hadn’t made further progress over several decades despite the fact that we give out statins like smarties when their benefits have been grossly exaggerated,” he said.“They were promised to be the big miracle cure. In the 1970s Nobel Prize winners Joseph Goldstein and

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Book Recommendations for Economics

August 23, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When I posed the question on Twitter, great book recommendations came in from many people. Take a look at the thread!Permalink

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Sharing Epiphanies

August 22, 2021

Abstract: Some of the most important things we learn in life are those lessons that come as a surprise.  These surprises are what I mean by epiphanies. Sharing epiphanies with each other gives us all the chance to become wiser.  I will share three epiphanies in my own life: (1) how I learned to respect positive thinking, (2) my shock when I learned that intelligence is not primarily an inborn quantity and (3) discovering the joys of "cleaning house."I appreciate your inviting me back to give another sermon.  If you are willing, I would love to come back every year for the next twenty years, if not more.  Yesterday, I was looking back at the five sermons I have given here in the last five years.   Last year I cribbed from David Foster Wallace to talk about “the egocentric illusion.”  In the

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South Korea the Only Middle Power Of Its Kind—Seong-ho Sheen

August 21, 2021

South Korea is a multidimensional middle power. South Korea, with a population of fifty million, ranks number ten in terms of GDP according to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in 2021. South Korea’s military with six hundred thousand active military duty members ranks number six in 2021 according to Global Firepower. In addition, South Korea’s defense spending, currently at U.S. $46 billion, is expected to surpass that of Japan by 2023. South Korea’s manufacturing sector ranks number five, following China, the United States, Japan, and Germany. And its economy is led by a well-balanced combination of leading industrial sectors. South Korea has top global producers of steel, automobiles, shipbuilding, semiconductors, telecommunications, electric car batteries, and biosimilar.

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Sequencing of Projects

August 19, 2021

In “How Fast Should a Project Be Completed?” I asked the question of how fast to do a project it does nothing for you when half-finished, but yields a continuing stream of benefits from the moment it is completed. My conclusion was the a project of that type should be completed quite fast unless the elasticity of the cost with respect to rate of progress gets high. My example of a project was my efforts to learn German, with the idea that it will only be attractive to read German for fun once I have learned a vocabulary of 10,000 German words (using the methods I discuss in “The Most Effective Memory Methods are Difficult—and That’s Why They Work”).But I actually

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