How to quantify risks?

Statins by Numbers MEDICINE is having its moneyball moment. In his book “Moneyball,” Michael Lewis chronicled how the Oakland A’s, in order to identify the best predictors of a winning baseball team, used a highly formulaic, statistics-driven approach in place of the traditional assessments of coaches and managers. This month, in a similar spirit, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued new, numerically driven guidelines for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. These guidelines recommend that doctors no longer use a patient’s LDL cholesterol level to decide whether to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering statin, and instead rely on … Continue reading How to quantify risks?

Next challenges in behavioral economics

Meet the ‘Genius’ Whose Ideas About Behavioral Economics Could (Someday) Change Lives Behavioral science received a nice pat on the back in September, when California Institute of Technology neuroeconomist Colin Camerer won a $625,000 no-strings-attached MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” Using fMRI imaging, game-theory laboratory experiments, and a variety of other empirical tools, Camerer’s work reaches across several disciplines and has been instrumental in the ongoing attempts to rewrite standard economic accounts of human decision-making so that they better map real-life behavior. As the Foundation put it, Camerer’s “innovative thinking and modeling acumen are fostering an even more nuanced analysis of … Continue reading Next challenges in behavioral economics

Datafication is the project

They’re Watching You at Work In 2003, thanks to Michael Lewis and his best seller Moneyball, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane, became a star. The previous year, Beane had turned his back on his scouts and had instead entrusted player-acquisition decisions to mathematical models developed by a young, Harvard-trained statistical wizard on his staff. What happened next has become baseball lore. The A’s, a small-market team with a paltry budget, ripped off the longest winning streak in American League history and rolled up 103 wins for the season. Only the mighty Yankees, who had spent three … Continue reading Datafication is the project

What about providing personalized maps for healthy food choices?

Would You Hold the Mayo If the Receipt Suggested It? Here is a famous finding from social psychology. If you want to encourage people to get vaccinated against some disease, it helps to educate them about the benefits of vaccination. But you’ll have a much bigger impact if you give people a map, showing them exactly where to go to get a shot. Elementary though it is, this finding is important, because it demonstrates that when people don’t respond to a suggestion, it may be because they need some help in identifying the specific steps they are being asked to … Continue reading What about providing personalized maps for healthy food choices?

Racial and ethnic biases in online dating

The uncomfortable racial preferences revealed by online dating The data shown above come from the Facebook dating app, Are You Interested (AYI), which works like this: Users in search of someone for a date or for sex flip through profiles of other users and, for each one, click either “yes” (I like what I see) or “skip” (show me the next profile). When the answer is “yes,” the other user is notified and has the opportunity to respond. It’s very similar to another dating app, Tinder. The graphic shows what percentage of people responded to a “yes,” based on the … Continue reading Racial and ethnic biases in online dating

Finance is not for poor people

This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense There’s no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of. Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I … Continue reading Finance is not for poor people

How to protect overdrafters from themselves?

Behavioral Law and Economics and Bank Overdraft Protection  In the past few months, at least two articles have come out that apply behavioral law and economics to the analysis of bank overdraft protection. One by Bubb and Pildes (forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review) and the other by Lauren Willis in The University of Chicago Law Review. Both articles make the same claim–that there are situations in which consumer behavioral biases are so pronounced and banks are so “nefarious” (a term actually used by Bubb and Pildes at one point) that it is no longer sufficient to simply have mere … Continue reading How to protect overdrafters from themselves?