Here I’m going to post some of my favorite papers on a host of different subjects.

Politicians As Prize Fighters by John Zaller. Zaller is a really famous political scientist and this paper is a really excellent look at the reasons that the high reelection rates of politicians might not be a cause of cynicism.

Why is there so little money in politics? by Stephen Ansolabehere. Just a fantastic article that will change the way you think about politics. The basic point is that our political system is not that corrupt and that most campaign donations come from ordinary citizens and not interest groups. The conclusion is that money enters politics not for the purpose of creating quid pro quos but to make the giver feel like a part of the national political system.

Open quotation by Francois Recanati. This is pure philosophy of language and its extremely well done. The argument concerns a theory of quotation and the argument is that a theory of quotation has to take into account what he calls open quotation, which is basically when a quotation does not serve as a singular term in the sentence (as a noun phrase). Essentially his theory is a pragmatic one on which quotation marks are just a way of drawing attention to one’s words, any meaning they have then is purely pragmatic.

Happy Hour Economics This paper tries to explain an apparent paradox. When happy hour starts, demand increases but prices FALL. How is that possible? This fun and insightful paper gives an answer which is that bars have monopoly power ordinarily, but this monopoly power is temporarily dissolved during happy hour. Why? Well, because people are willing to travel further to drink for cheaper. The post on this is here.

Use and Abuse of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate. This paper is just a really sensitive look at whether the death penalty stops murders. The controls that they use are non-death penalty states and Canada. What I like is that they express skepticism that the number of executions in the United States was ever enough to create a perceptible difference in homicides.

Incarceration Summary. This is just a small easy-to-read policy paper prepared by the Sentencing Project. I think this group definitely has an agenda, but I challenge readers of this report to find a place where a judgment is made about what we should reduce our incarceration of people. It merely tries to help the debate on this issue grow to a more sophisticated level, something I love.

A Measure of Media Bias. This article compares the think tanks that politicians cite to those that media outlets cite. The result is that reading the NYT is like listening to a speech by Joe Lieberman (before he got much more conservative). It turns out also that NPR isn’t that liberal, and that the Jim Lehrer NewsHour — my dad’s favorite show — is one of the least biased shows out there and that has to be right in my mind.

Five hundred life-saving interventions and their cost-effectiveness. Just a really cool, SHORT article about what regulations have saved lives for cheap, what regulations have saved lives at very high levels of expense. The author suggests we should transfer money from the cost-ineffective types of regulation to the more effective types (duh!). Apparently, the median government intervention (from this sampling) saves one life for about 10,000 dollars. That’s a steal.

Cheating Ourselves: the Economics of Tax Evasion. Just a money article on who cheats on their taxes and why. As you might guess, this is a really hard thing to get data on, and there are various methods that people use to get at these stats, but this is by far the most comprehensive piece I’ve seen on this.

CBO Report, Scoring Various Budget Options. Pg. 211 is what I wrote about. Cool report.

Song Lyrics are becoming more narcissistic. by Nathan DeWall. Song lyrics since 1980 are more about “me” There’s another longitudinal study confirming that people are becoming more narcissistic.

Internet Connectivity Will Hurt Us in the Long Run. Pew Internet Center. Using the internet as an external brain will have dire consequences for the next generation as they become impatient (and subtext: more narcissistic).

Social Connections Enable Dehumanization. People with wider social networks are more likely to dehumanize others (I haven’t actually read this at time of posting, but looks great). See this not-controlled study in the journal of personality and individual difference “Narcissism on Facebook”, — this explains so much. I think it’s an information problem. If you’re insecure or are concrete oriented, then you will be unsure about the “value” of experiences that you purchase. It’s also hard to quantify. Spending on living closer to friends versus not is a very non-concrete decision to make. but if you buy a new pair of shoes, you always have those shoes, and can look at them anytime to take comfort in them. They are so THERE.

CBO Report On Income Inequality. This is where you should go for all your income inequality questions. Here’s why this data is the best.

173 global warming denying arguments and how to respond to them. This is pretty comprehensive.

The best social media study ever conducted. This study compares 1985-2004 on a lot of metrics. Finds that our non-kin networks and confidants are falling. But also, according to one researcher (have not read fully yet) that we are not losing real-world conversation by increasingly plugging in to online relationships.

Paper on why a lack of portable health care insurance hurts entrepreneurship.

The Automated Will: Nonconscious Activation and Pursuit of Behavioral Goals by John A. Bargh. This paper basically argues that we can be induced to start pursuing goals without any explicit intention to begin pursuing them. In a competitive situation involving a game over resources, people who were exposed to primes about cooperation shared as many fish as people who were told to cooperate with their partner.

Happiness Research, a 30 year review. Money matters less after 75k a year and unemployment is a great way to be miserable.

Mental Health Records and NICS Database. If you’re concerned about the apparent (I say apparent because it’s hard to find data saying whether school shootings or spree shootings are more common or not) rise in school shootings, you should read this report. It’s really good at showing which states have their stuff together and which do not.


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