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Category Archives: Cognitive biases

Hey, fellow committee member, are you the weakest link?

UPDATE: 12:18 PM SEE END OF POST I was just on a committee that selected a small number of papers from a large number of submissions for a conference.  We each graded each paper and then we had to come up with a rule to go from our individual grades to a ranking of the[.....]

Also posted in Academic research, Metrics and evaluation | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Why is nobody worried about the Asian brain drain?

Aid-financed scholarships for African students to study in the US or Europe would be worth a lot more than a million “capacity-building” projects. The usual argument against such scholarships is fear of brain drain — that the African students would not return home. So why is nobody worried about brain drain of the gigantic numbers[.....]

Also posted in Migration | Tagged | 12 Comments

David Brooks illustrates how clueless Easterners can be without local knowledge about My Midwest

A frequent theme in this blog is the importance of local knowledge for development. David Brooks helpfully illustrated in his column today on my home region the Midwest. He brilliantly demonstrates how outsiders can get lost in the jungle in a region not their own. Brooks’ Midwest is: that region of America that starts in[.....]

Also posted in In the news | 76 Comments

Succeed in Kindergarten, and You’re Set for Life

UPDATE: links to studies on pre-school in developing countries (end of post) This blog has discussed how ancient history of countries and peoples affects development today. Now a new paper shows that your own ancient history also matters: your scores on Kindergarten tests are a good predictor of your earnings as an adult, along with[.....]

Also posted in Academic research | 28 Comments

In politics as in development, success is fleetingly fleeting

This blog has frequently pointed out that economic growth successes don’t last — rapid growth is fleeting. After last night’s election, we are reminded that political success doesn’t last either. An action in one direction is followed by an equal and opposite reaction in the other. The situation of one party having both the Presidency[.....]

Also posted in History | Tagged | 11 Comments

We now return to our regularly scheduled Hayek

Universidad Francisco Marroquin recently made available both the video and transcripts of a series of interviews with F.A. Hayek from the mid-1970’s. Not only do they furnish an in depth look into the ideas of one of the past century’s most influential thinkers, and pair him with some of the other great economists of the[.....]

Also posted in Human rights | 10 Comments

The Ground Zero mosque and cognitive biases

Among the many other things involved in this controversy, stereotypes of Muslims are not exactly helping. As this blog is (excessively)  fond of arguing, ethnic stereotypes are partly fueled by an obscure cognitive bias known as Reversing Conditional Probabilities. As a long ago Aid Watch post argued (sorry for indulging in self-quotation, but hey it’s August, time for reruns):[.....]

17 Comments

Poor People Behaving Badly?

NYT columnist Nick Kristof had an uber-provocative Sunday column: …if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children’s prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by low incomes, but also by shortsighted private spending decisions by heads of households. The[.....]

Also posted in In the news | Tagged , | 45 Comments

Poor/ Not Poor

How many times have you looked at a picture of a forlorn or sick person in tattered clothing accompanying a news story or plea for aid funds, and wondered about the circumstances surrounding that particular shot? For me, these pictures often create a momentary feeling of intimacy—a privileged view into the most private details of[.....]

Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Misunderstandings of Affirmative Action: Supreme Court Edition

I’m poorly qualified to pronounce on Affirmative Action as a general topic. But I do see misunderstandings that overlap with one of my favorite topics: errors in perceiving probabilities. Before you say BORING, let me try to convince you that this is at the heart of the AA debate. The #1 question about Elena Kagan[.....]

13 Comments
  • About Aid Watch

    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

    "Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking." - H.L. Mencken

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