Chad Perrin: SOB

6 March 2008

confusing correlations

Filed under: Cognition,Geek — Tags: , , , — apotheon @ 03:42

Three trends I’ve noticed:

  1. A lot of people seem to think policies like “universal healthcare” are a good idea.

  2. A lot of people seem to think that calculus is such an important part of a computer science curriculum that CS students should take 18 credits of calculus and calc-prep courses, despite the fact that in a Bachelor’s degree program this edges out a lot of other useful education.

  3. I’ve noticed a strong correlation between the two amongst CS grads.

Now . . . don’t get me wrong: in and of itself — in a vacuum, in other words — “universal healthcare” sounds great, and it would be wonderful for everyone to know everything about calculus (especially if they’re going to do a lot of programming, computational theory, and so on). There are some pretty severe problems with each, however:

  1. “Universal healthcare” has to happen in the real world. The resources have to come from somewhere, and introducing “free” services skew markets significantly, changing the way resources are used in those markets, et cetera.

  2. 18 units of calc and calc-prep classes — well, that’s a heck of a lot of time and effort. It detracts from other, probably far more valuable instruction. Some more focus in matters of practical statistics, linear algebra, formal logic, and other paths of (often mathematical) subjects that are more directly applicable to computer science tend to lose out to varying degrees depending on the specific school.

I’m not really interested in building a strong case for either at this point. Either you agree with me or you don’t. My point here is in the correlation between the two misconceptions — not whether you agree they’re misconceptions.

See, here’s the thing — amongst programmers with computer science degrees, there seems for some reason to be a strong correlation between those who believe all that calculus is only right and good as part of a computer science degree and those who believe that advocacy of “universal healthcare” is a good reason to vote for a given candidate in a Presidential election.

One would think that those who favor the mathematical education they received would have done well at it (thus some of the reason for their bias), and would thus be able to do some simple mathematical guesstimation with a reasonable level of accuracy. That is, after all, what calculus is — the fine art of formal mathematical guesstimation. So, assuming they have such skills, one wonders why these people seem fundamentally incapable of applying them meaningfully to matters of economics.

Of course, I have a vague sort of theory on the matter. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I’m what some people call a “synthesist” by nature — aka “a systems thinker”. That also ties in with the whole “INTJ” thing (and how that works is, at the moment, left as an exercise for the reader). See, these concepts seem to be somewhat self-evident, given certain basic assumptions, to me. The problem I have with these correlations is that it’s difficult for me to grasp, on a visceral level, how someone could fit into both categories of misconception at the same time. The fact I’m a synthesist by nature is surely part of the reason I see things as almost self-evident that others simply don’t grok at all, no matter how much they’re made aware of the relevant evidence and principles.

One of the benefits to being a synthesist, I have discovered, is that I tend to be pretty good at sorting out underlying principles and applying them across domains. Considering the fundamental disconnect between “good at math” and “bad at basic economics” in some people, I can only imagine that they’re really atrocious at applying principles across disparate domains. This might also explain why people who think 18 credits of calc and calc-prep is critical to a career based on a CS degree don’t grasp the fact that many of the relevant skills they get from calc are not specific to calculus, and could more easily be learned in other subjects. It might further explain why a lot of the time their arguments boil down to some kind of assertion that the ability to get through a calculus class is in and of itself valuable enough to warrant squeezing out other subjects, regardless of any actual skills learned (which should be easily recognizable to any bystander as an absurd notion).

. . . but it seems entirely too easy to just assume that the reason people can, in such large numbers, subscribe to both misconceptions is that they’re somehow deficient. Okay, not really “deficient” per se — just differently talented — but the form of the argument is pretty much the same as saying “so and so is just stupid”. It seems, as I said, too easy. It feels like a cop-out rather than a probable explanation.

Any alternative theories (other than “I disagree with your assertion about one or the other of the ‘misconceptions’ — or even both of them!” since I’m not interested in having that argument right now) are welcome.

If you want to discuss your disagreement about these correlated misconceptions’ accuracy, I might separate the two subjects into two (or more) individual SOB entries in the future.

update:

I have created the first of those two possible venues for discussion of the two “misconceptions” already. It addresses the matter of “universal healthcare” and its (lack of) desired efficacy. If you subscribe to the misconception that “universal healthcare” in the real world, as it exists in the here and now where energy and other resources are not magically infinite, and think that it’s me who has the misconception, that’s the place to prove your case — not here.

27 Comments

  1. It seems to me that both misconceptions fall into the category of what I like to call “safety net thinking” — when an idea sounds good because it appears to preemptively remove some risk. How that applies to universal health care should be obvious. It applies to calculus along the lines of “every other CS student before me had to take calculus, so I’d be a lesser programmer if I don’t take it too.”

    Of course, what fails to occur to the safety net thinker is the cost of maintaining that safety net, which is almost always higher than any risk that it avoids. That’s why insurance sells, and why insurance companies make a pile of money.

    Comment by SterlingCamden — 6 March 2008 @ 04:20

  2. I don’t see a correlation at all (at least for my set of 1 person). I agree with #1, and while I enjoyed my calc classes for CS degree, I think other classes would have been far more relevant.

    Comment by Michael Peters — 6 March 2008 @ 04:24

  3. Sterling:

    I like that particular interpretation. I think it entirely likely that it might coexist with my own idea as part of the reason for the correlation. In fact, by combining the two, I end up with what seems a more plausible explanation for why many people might end up with the correlated misconceptions I described than my “non-synthesist” explanation alone.

    In fact, this makes me think that, just maybe, it’s my penchant for systems thinking that might have helped me get past that sort of safety net thinking in the first place.

    Michael:

    Thanks for the single data point. I admit that my data set isn’t exactly representative, but my experience strongly supports my own impression of the correlation.

    Specifically, I have seen people who subscribed to one of those misconceptions without the opportunity arising for me to determine whether that person agreed with the other, and I have seen people who subscribed to both, but I think you’re the first I’ve run across who specifically agreed with one but disagreed with the other.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 March 2008 @ 04:28

  4. Where’s the misconception you talk about?

    All the people I know are very good at grasping the economic forces at place when it comes to universal healthcare and calculating the benefits/tradeoffs. I’ve yet to see people disagree on the model, even when they’re well entrenched in opposing camps.

    What it boils down to are different assumptions and placing different values on the possible outcomes. And I’ve seen people argue for the same outcome, but disagree on the assumptions use to support that outcome, just like I’ve seen people agreeing on the assumptions, but weighing the outcomes differently.

    Like Sterling said, a lot of this has to do with risk. A person of the same age bracket, driving record and car model living in the same building as me, would get the same premium on their car insurance. So the neighbor across the hall has the same risk calculation (probability, cost, etc), but we didn’t buy the exact same coverage because we judge the outcomes differently.

    Likewise when it comes to universal health we may agree on the very same data, but if we value things differently, vote differently on it.

    So I don’t see any misconception.

    I also don’t see a direct correlation. There’s a well documented correlation between university graduates, high tech workers, especially in the Bay area, and left-leaning liberal/social politics.

    Most likely the view on calculus is simply a second derivative correlation.

    Comment by Assaf — 6 March 2008 @ 04:58

  5. “Most likely the view on calculus is simply a second derivative correlation”. LMAO

    Comment by SterlingCamden — 6 March 2008 @ 05:02

  6. So I don’t see any misconception.

    As I said:

    Any alternative theories (other than “I disagree with your assertion about one or the other of the ‘misconceptions’ — or even both of them!” since I’m not interested in having that argument right now) are welcome.

    If you want to discuss your disagreement about these correlated misconceptions’ accuracy, I might separate the two subjects into two (or more) individual SOB entries in the future.

    As for your other point of disagreement:

    I also don’t see a direct correlation.

    It’s going to take more than “I also don’t see a direct correlation” to convince me, since my experience is that there is a correlation.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 March 2008 @ 05:03

  7. PS I think calculus is an important subject for anyone who’s dealing with numbers: planning features for the next release, tracking progress and velocity, those are all numbers. But whenever I use numbers, it’s not specific to software but rather to production, and software is just another field of production, like fashion, food, retail. So yes to teaching calculus in more places, not just CS, but 18 credits is way too much.

    I left CS because in my university it was run like a double major, with half the credits devoted to theoretical math, a total waste of my time. But I do go back to stats and calculus, never in my code, though.

    Comment by Assaf — 6 March 2008 @ 05:05

  8. So . . . are you basically saying you agree with me on the subject of calculus, but don’t want to just come out and admit it?

    edit: . . . or maybe you disagree, but don’t want to just come out and admit it.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 March 2008 @ 05:11

  9. I can see why there might be a correlation (see my first comment), but I have insufficient data to say that there is (or is not) a correlation. Can you share your data?

    Comment by SterlingCamden — 6 March 2008 @ 05:18

  10. The thing is, I don’t know if I agree with you or not.

    I don’t buy the math/software relationship, I think that’s a carry over from the days before CS became its own discipline. Few people ever apply it code. Calculus is not “only right and good as part of a computer science”.

    Then again, any discipline that deals with production, CS being one of them, needs solid math foundations, and that includes calculus. But it should be the same number of credits as statistics, and it should be the same number of credits if you’re doing calculus in CS or economics or biology.

    Comment by Assaf — 6 March 2008 @ 06:57

  11. “It’s going to take more than “I also don’t see a direct correlation” to convince me, since my experience is that there is a correlation.”

    The moment you talk about thought process, you’re no longer talking correlation but actually looking at causation. Different ball game. Direct correlation is a possible indicator of causation, second derivative correlation is not. Just pointing out that the second part doesn’t logically follow from the correlation.

    It’s quite possible that the real causation is, people who suffered from 18 credits of calculus wish to inflict the same punishment on the next generation, a hazing ritual of sort. Or that the only people who survived CS to tell the tale, are to begin with calculus lovers, the rest dropped out.

    It’s quite possible that CS graduates are mostly dating BA graduates, got exposed to too many foreign films, developed a severe case of Europhillia and want to recreate the same social governments here. Or maybe they’re just expressing this attitude to get laid, and it stuck.

    So that’s my alternative theory, I think its ludicrous, but it’s supported by the correlation just as well as your theory.

    Comment by Assaf — 6 March 2008 @ 07:13

  12. I agree with the notion that “higher maths” should probably be on about equal footing with statistics. I disagree with the common perception of calculus as the catch-all for “higher maths”. Part of my problem with the whole calculus/CS connection is the simple fact that most universities treat calculus as a necessary precursor for a lot of “higher maths” stuff that really doesn’t need a foundation in calculus itself at all (such as linear algebra). These universities have just standardized on certain mathematical techniques and concepts that are common to everything above the level of introductory algebra and geometry being taught in calculus classes for some incredibly stupid reason, thus wedging years of calculus into the progression from arithmetic to higher algebraic mathematics (and similarly non-calculus related progressions). I’d even go so far as to say that, the way calculus-related classes are organized now, nothing more than Calc 1A needs to be a requirement for a proper computer science education — and, in fact, anything above precalc is up for debate. A lot of the calculus-nonspecific stuff taught only in Calc 1A through Calc 3B should be ripped out of those classes, though, and made a prerequisite for basically all “higher maths” progressions. Then, if you want 18 credits of math, you can focus most of that on stuff more directly related to algebraic logic and the like — you know, stuff actually directly relevant to computational theory (the real basis of “computer science” — people seem to have forgotten that the “computer” in “computer science” refers to computational theory, and not simply x86 architecture PCs).

    As for the direct correlation stuff — I started talking about causation because I’m looking for the common causes of the two correlated observations. I’m not implying one causes the other. My reference to correlation, in other words, was just a reference to substantial statistical overlap.

    Your alternative theory is just as well supported based on nothing but the correlation, but I’m looking for more thoughtful and likely explanations for the observed correlation (where “observed” means “observed by me, through the filter of my experience”). So, yeah, the correlation could be largely coincidental — but it’s more fun to assume it isn’t unless and until someone offers evidence to the contrary.

    It’s said that correlation does not imply causation — which is mostly used to counter arguments that assume correlation means one of the correlated observations causes the other. There’s another level to that, though: common causes. While correlation doesn’t strictly imply common cause, it sure as hell does tend to indicate common cause. Thus, I’m willing to entertain strong arguments that there’s no common cause, per se, but unless such a rhetorical animal is forthcoming I’m going with the operating assumption that common cause (perhaps at one or two causation links’ remove) exists.

    Comment by apotheon — 7 March 2008 @ 12:19

  13. […] Chad Perrin: SOB » confusing correlations Is there a “strong correlation” between a desire for universal health care and the belief that calculus is an important requirement for computer science? (tags: healthcare calculus computerscience libertarianism liberalism) […]

    Pingback by links for 2008-03-07 -- Chip’s Quips — 7 March 2008 @ 01:28

  14. People DIE because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Should we let people DIE because we dont’ want to “skew the markets?”. No one will die because you take too much calculus.

    Comment by Sam — 7 March 2008 @ 09:16

  15. Correlation should send you looking for common causes, but doesn’t imply a common cause. First, those may be independent. Second, correlation may prove a lot of common cause, so insufficient to prove any one. So if you’re subjecting this to rigorous proof (as opposed to feeling or opinion), the burden of proof is on the common cause. You start by assuming there is no common cause, looking for possible causes and ways to back them up, not by picking one and treating it as “innocent until proven guilty”.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, that we have to find out, but that you’re taking too many shortcut to prove a pre-determined conclusion. One of the first thing I learned in calculus, incidentally, is how glossing over details and taking shortcuts the confuse the reader, you could prove 0=2.

    Comment by Assaf — 7 March 2008 @ 11:25

  16. Sam, people also DIE because people drive cars and get into accidents. Does that mean we should force everyone to use public transportation? As soon as you start making arguments that the government should be responsible for every aspect of personal welfare, then the government also gets permission to control your personal life.

    Comment by SterlingCamden — 7 March 2008 @ 11:30

  17. Just to be clear: I think the current medical insurance system is broken, and something needs to be done. I just don’t think putting the government in charge of everyone’s health care is the right answer to the problem.

    I went without health insurance for over five years because I couldn’t afford it. Luckily, I didn’t have any major illness, and so I ended up saving a lot of money. Now I pay out the nose for insurance that doesn’t cover much. I think I was better off without.

    Comment by SterlingCamden — 7 March 2008 @ 11:35

  18. […] Here is a typical case of someone who doesn’t “get” the concept of unintended consequences: […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » the unintended consequences of "public services" — 7 March 2008 @ 11:35

  19. Sam . . . apparently you missed the part where I said:

    Any alternative theories (other than “I disagree with your assertion about one or the other of the ‘misconceptions’ — or even both of them!” since I’m not interested in having that argument right now) are welcome.

    If you want to discuss your disagreement about these correlated misconceptions’ accuracy, I might separate the two subjects into two (or more) individual SOB entries in the future.

    I find your antisocial behavior here unsavory, in ignoring that just so you can stand on your soapbox and attack something that is off-topic for the main thrust of this discussion when I specifically asked readers to stick to the topic. I briefly debated just marking your comment as “spam” because of its wholly non-contributory (lack of) “value”, but decided to keep it for two reasons:

    1. I still haven’t (intentionally/knowingly) deleted any comments that aren’t actual spam — not even trolling like yours — and I don’t feel like breaking that record now for a housefly like your post.

    2. Your comment provided me with exactly the inspiration and excuse I needed to provide the essay that would give my readers the discussion ground I promised them on the subject of “universal healthcare”, and its efficacy (or lack thereof).

    That new essay is titled the unintended consequences of “public services”, and is open for discussion now for those who are interested in tackling that subject — people, perhaps, with something to say like your fatuous remark, Sam, but with greater ability to monitor one’s own social interactions better than you (who chose, instead of waiting for the appropriate discussion to arise as promised, to troll this discussion where it’s explicitly labeled off-topic).

    I hope you will redeem yourself with a thoughtful post there, since you are obviously passionate about the subject (or at least portray yourself that way when trolling). I won’t hold my breath waiting for it, though.

    Comment by apotheon — 7 March 2008 @ 11:43

  20. Now for responses to the rest of you:

    Assaf:

    Correlation should send you looking for common causes, but doesn’t imply a common cause.

    I think that’s a pretty good summary of what I said to you.

    So if you’re subjecting this to rigorous proof (as opposed to feeling or opinion), the burden of proof is on the common cause.

    I agree. This is, however, a fishing expedition for theories, not an attempt to prove a cause.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, that we have to find out, but that you’re taking too many shortcut to prove a pre-determined conclusion.

    Nonsense. I specifically said my own first thought on the matter didn’t sit well with me, subjectively, and asked for alternate theories. Where do you get the notion that I set out to prove a predetermined conclusion?

    One of the first thing I learned in calculus, incidentally, is how glossing over details and taking shortcuts the confuse the reader, you could prove 0=2.

    In this case, if the reader is confused, it’s not the intention of the writer. In fact, that would be the opposite of my intent here — though a certain percentage of people unable to grasp the subtleties of the topic enough to get them to keep from disrupting the discussion too much with their stubbornly off-topic rantings (such as Sam) would be nice.

    Sterling:

    Sam, people also DIE because people drive cars and get into accidents. Does that mean we should force everyone to use public transportation? As soon as you start making arguments that the government should be responsible for every aspect of personal welfare, then the government also gets permission to control your personal life.

    It also ignores the substantially negative effects such universal policies can have on the quality of life of basically everyone. In essence, whether they have the minimal cognitive capabilities to realize it or not, arguments like Sam’s are for government trying to help everyone regardless of the actual damage it will cause. An attempt to improve six million lives that results in substantial damage to (including, in many cases, destruction of) hundreds of millions of lives is justified by such reasoning, usually because such people are wholly unaware of the reach of unintended consequences for fiddling with complex systems like a national economy (especially one as friggin’ huge as that of the US).

    While, to me, the primary reason to refrain from forcing use of “public” transportation and “public” healthcare is to refrain from violating the rights of the individuals who must be directly screwed over to support projects of such inefficiency, there’s the very real incentive to avoid these programs in the fact that they tend to have the opposite of the (presumably) intended results. Overly simplistic, zero-sum reasoning like Sam seems to exhibit, on the other hand, is essentially incapable of recognizing that kind of chain of causation in a complex system.

    Just to be clear: I think the current medical insurance system is broken, and something needs to be done. I just don’t think putting the government in charge of everyone’s health care is the right answer to the problem.

    Oh, yes, I agree fully. The major problem is in the fact that governmental interference in market forces has already hosed up the economics of the situation. Adding further governmental interference will only worsen the situation.

    Now I pay out the nose for insurance that doesn’t cover much. I think I was better off without.

    Insurance as a service doesn’t have to be a net loss for the system as a whole, though it is now, as currently practiced. The complexities of the current insurance system and governmental regulation of same contributes to inflated costs, though, and centralization of power in corporations built on an organizational model that embodies a direct conflict of interest, however.

    Dammit. Now I’m contributing to the off-topicness of this. I had more to say, but if you would like to discuss this further, please bring up your points in the appropriate venue.

    Comment by apotheon — 7 March 2008 @ 12:04

  21. “Where do you get the notion that I set out to prove a predetermined conclusion?”

    Because you’re not working to convince me, you’re placing the burden the proof on me to disprove your theory, rather than deconstructing the assumptions and thought logic to explain how it works compared to the arguments I presented in the very beginning.

    Argument no.1. Universal healthcare is a misconception. It’s not and it can’t be. Universal healthcare is a concept. A particular healthcare policy may be wrong, in not providing the expected outcome. You can say that, applied to the US it will not increase life expectancy or quality of life, and people who think that way are wrong. But without being specific about what the misconception is, and illustrating that misconception does exist, the rest of the argument is pointless.

    Argument no.2. People who favor universal healthcare also have a particular opinion on calculus teaching in university. I buy that, but only because people who have an opinion on calculus teaching in university, tend to be university graduates, and university graduates tend to favor social/liberal policies. Case solved. Where’s the conflict?

    Argument no.3. People do not apply their skills to economics and therefore reach the wrong conclusion about universal healthcare. That would imply that they’re doing the economic calculation wrong. I’m unconvinced. All the people I talk to have the exact same economic understanding, but plugging different numbers into the same formula (the mental model) leads to different conclusions. So they may be wizards at economics, but they’re basing their conclusion on the wrong facts, or the wrong guesses (and frankly, most of that stuff is guess work).

    Even more demanding, I found out that two people may reach the exact same conclusion of the resulting outcomes, but disagree on how to value those outcomes. We may both decide it has the same economic cost, but one of use would simply value health as basic service more than the economic downside. Or it may be a personal calculation, if you prefer lifelong coverage regardless of the associated economic cost. None of these people are wrong in applying the economic model, as your thesis states, but rather in having a different value system.

    Comment by Assaf — 7 March 2008 @ 01:05

  22. “forcing use of “public” transportation and “public” healthcare”

    A lot of people belong in the camp that would like to see the government provide, not enforce, these, much like municipalities provide, but don’t enforce, public transportation.

    Comment by Assaf — 7 March 2008 @ 01:11

  23. Because you’re not working to convince me, you’re placing the burden the proof on me to disprove your theory, rather than deconstructing the assumptions and thought logic to explain how it works compared to the arguments I presented in the very beginning.

    I’m not placing burden of proof on anyone to disprove anything. I offered it as a possible explanation, not as a strong argument. I asked for alternative theories. I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out what’s so difficult to understand about that.

    I’m not working to convince you because I’m not convinced myself, and only offered it as the most credible notion that had occurred to me so far. That’s it. Do you see me offering strident defenses of my hypothetical explanation of causation for the correlation? If so, you must be reading some other weblog, because I’m not offering such defenses.

    Argument no.1. Universal healthcare is a misconception. It’s not and it can’t be. Universal healthcare is a concept.

    Uh, no, that’s not “Argument no.1.” That’s just a component of premise number one. Imagine I said “Assume this premise: People believe universal healthcare is effective, and this belief is a misconception.” Got it? No argument. A lot more to it than just the “concept” of “universal healthcare”. I don’t understand why you’re eliding most of a premise and declaring the resultant, broken statement an “argument”.

    Argument no.2. People who favor universal healthcare also have a particular opinion on calculus teaching in university. I buy that, but only because people who have an opinion on calculus teaching in university, tend to be university graduates, and university graduates tend to favor social/liberal policies. Case solved. Where’s the conflict?

    Again — that was an assumed premise (and I stated that examining these premises was not the intent of this essay and its request for feedback, since I wasn’t making an argument), not an argument in and of itself.

    Also . . . the conflict is in the fact that one might reasonably assume that favoring math tends to be associated with being better at it than those who do not favor math, and yet these people show signs of being unable or unwilling to apply basic arithmetic effectively to the problem of “universal healthcare” as a policy. Isn’t that obvious?

    People do not apply their skills to economics and therefore reach the wrong conclusion about universal healthcare. That would imply that they’re doing the economic calculation wrong. I’m unconvinced.

    Fine. Go discuss that in the appropriate venue. This SOB entry isn’t about that. Get it yet? Sometimes, I want to discuss some of the implications of a set of premises, and not just the truth or falsehood of the premises themselves — but every fucking time I try to engage such a discussion some joker comes along and refuses to leave the premises alone, even when I promise and deliver a venue for that discussion as well! Thanks for meeting my expectations.

    We may both decide it has the same economic cost, but one of use would simply value health as basic service more than the economic downside.

    That’s pretty limited thinking, considering the “economic downside” significantly affects “health as basic service” negatively.

    None of these people are wrong in applying the economic model, as your thesis states, but rather in having a different value system.

    You’re basically saying, then, that most of these people are lying when they argue for “universal healthcare* as a policy. That may be true — but I tend to think they’re at worst misguided and willfully ignorant, in most cases. In other words, I find it more credible a notion that most of them are lying to themselves than that they’re lying to everyone else.

    A lot of people belong in the camp that would like to see the government provide, not enforce, these, much like municipalities provide, but don’t enforce, public transportation.

    Of course they are. That wasn’t the point of the comment of mine to which you replied, however. I was addressing the comments that came before mine, which related to replacement of private resources with “public equivalents”.

    Comment by apotheon — 7 March 2008 @ 02:31

  24. “This SOB entry isn’t about that. Get it yet?”

    I got that from the beginning, which is why I’m not expressing any opinion one way or the other in this thread. I’m trying to treat the argument objectively. To be objective, I don’t care what conclusion people reach, and whether or not it agrees with mine, only that they “apply basic arithmetic effectively to the problem”. As I pointed out, the majority of people who I talked to who fit this particular profile, do apply basic arithmetic effectively, whichever conclusion they reach.

    And I presented several arguments for why I think that thesis applies, and personal anecdotal evidence in support. The point all along was, two people using the exact same mathematical/economic model can vote differently on the policy by changing two sets of variables: the numbers they plug into the model, and the value they place on each outcome.

    If we accept as a thesis that people can come to different conclusions by applying basic arithmetic and economic models differently, then there’s nothing special about this correlation. It could be well supported by the correlation between university graduates and social/liberal leaning.

    “You’re basically saying, then, that most of these people are lying when they argue for “universal healthcare* as a policy.”

    How did I say that?

    We both have $15 in our pocket. We both agree $10 is a fair price to pay to see IronMan. We both agree we’ll have fun. We both employ the same economic model, realizing that 90 minutes of fun will diminish our cash reserves to $5. Except one of us weighs 90 minutes of fun at 1.1 and $10 of cash at 1.0, so they choose to go see the movie. The other weighs 90 minutes of fun at 0.8 and $10 of cash at 1.0, and decide to not go see the movie. But we’re both making a reasonable economic decision based on facts and a sound model, and neither of us is lying about anything.

    Comment by Assaf — 7 March 2008 @ 03:36

  25. I got that from the beginning, which is why I’m not expressing any opinion one way or the other in this thread. I’m trying to treat the argument objectively.

    Obviously, you don’t get it. I’ll try making it simpler for you: treat it objectivey over there.

    I’m done feeding your stubborn insistence on pursuing off-topic discussion here. Normally, I’m not much of a stickler for on-topic-ness, but in this case I started out at the outset explaining my intent with regard to the topic here, asked everyone from the beginning to respect that, and I have provided an alternative venue for discussion of the topic you want to discuss instead. If you keep pursuing off-topic matters here, I’ll start deleting your comments. I’m sure I’d be happy to engage your commentary in the appropriate venue.

    Comment by apotheon — 7 March 2008 @ 04:50

  26. Interesting as they are, that would be my clue to withdraw from the discussion.

    Comment by Assaf — 7 March 2008 @ 05:31

  27. I do agree that there are some subjects or part of curriculum that is no longer needed for students. I think that they just add it up in order to upgrade the quality of education which is apt for students without them knowing that it just causes more trouble to students in the sense that it added up more burden and makes school uninteresting for others.

    Comment by Motivator — 7 March 2008 @ 10:07

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