I’ve been preparing for a first-year screener exam as part of my PhD program. This involves reading some 110 papers published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology between 2019 and 2020. At this point, I have a good sense of what work is being done in the field — and what practices should end. Science by Pun is one of them.
If I were braver, I would include a list of papers published in the Journal of Consumer Research that exemplify what I consider a very bad practice. However, I would like to get a job when I graduate. …
The fallacy fallacy is weird among its peers. Whereas other logical fallacies refer to poor argumentation, the fallacy fallacy refers to the unwarranted move from noticing an argument is fallacious, to denying the truth claim of an argument.
Alice is talking with Bob about climate change. She notes that millions of people worldwide believe that climate change is real, and caused by humans. Bob exclaims “argument from popularity!” and concludes that global warming doesn’t exist.
A recent article published in Bloomberg inspired me to take time away from my Ph.D. studies and write another short essay. While I am by no means an expert in the fields of epidemiology or public health, I feel more than qualified to critique the misuse of consumer behavior research as it pertains to addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.
This article draws on a 2000 paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology to make the following salacious claim:
“Sounds Strange, But There Could Be Too Many Vaccines”
You can find the article at the following link: “Sounds Strange, But…
Or: Against media hype
Note: this post was recently picked up in an article written by Katie Herzog for Bari Weiss’ substack. While I have included many disclaimers throughout this post, I want to be clear that I am 1) not a medical researcher, and 2) that you should read the paper yourself. The research itself has merit, and the biggest issue here is the way in which uncritical reporters overhype findings to satisfy their personal biases. …
Or: Why I Hate Business Books
Why is every business book so awful? No, really, why are they so consistently bad? I’m a binge reader, and this past week alone I’ve been reading somewhere between 2 and 3 books a day — the one constant in this endeavour is that books about business are consistently terrible.
But before I do that, I’d like to break down the standard format of a business book — its contents, its structure, and what the raison d’être of most books in this genre seems to be.
The experts are wrong. What gets passed down…
Or: Taking your beliefs to their logical conclusion
There’s a concept in philosophy known as the “utility monster”. The basic idea is that there may exist an agent that derives an incalculably large amount of utility from any given unit of resources than all of humanity does. Robert Nozick proposed the utility monster as part of his critique of utilitarianism, which is the ethical theory that (roughly) claims we should seek the greatest good for the greatest number of people. …
I’d like to introduce a concept I’ve found useful when thinking about the scientific community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Gell-Mann Amnesia.
I think we’ve all experienced Gell-Mann amnesia in some form before. Here’s how Michael Crichton, who coined the term, describes it:
“You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward — reversing cause and effect…
Or: Good epistemic hygiene is important
In an 1877 paper, Cambridge mathematician and philosopher William Clifford describes the case of a shipowner about to make a sale:
“A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first; that she had seen many seas and climes, and often had needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though…
And may not do what we want them to do
A couple weeks ago the American Justice Department found that Yale systematically discriminates against Asian and White applicants on the basis of their race. Relative to Black applicants of similar qualifications, Asians and Whites are 90% and 75% less likely to get in, respectively.
This isn’t new — Harvard was recently caught up in another race-based admissions scandal where it was found to artificially “cap” the number of asian students they admit. While the school cannot legally institute a quota, the plaintiffs in the legal case contend that the school…
Or: Low frequency events with high impact are difficult to think about
Blaise Pascal, a 17th century philosopher and mathematician was struggling with faith. How could he convince himself, and others, to believe in God? In an early application of decision theory, he proposed that having faith was akin to a wager, a bet, a game of chance. His end conclusion was that, regardless of whether the existence of God is supported by one’s personal standard of evidence, it is still better to have faith:
Current PhD student at the Ivey School of Business, researching consumer behaviour. I enjoy writing long-form explanations of niche academic books.