Sunday Links #2

Welcome to the second edition of Sunday Links! These are links! And this is posted on a Sunday! Makes sense so far, right? As a reminder, I may not agree with everything said in all of these links.

…Positional goods are things you spend money on solely to prove how rich you are. For example, buying a $2000 watch that isn’t any better than a $100 one. Peter Singer reminds us that such spending is somewhere between entirely wasteful and terribly evil. I wish more people could just go back to proving how rich they are by blowing it on ineffective philanthropy, because then it hopefully will take a lot less work to get them to channel it into effective philanthropy.

…In other Singer news, Peter Singer gives a talk about effective altruism. Luckily someone recorded it and put it on YouTube. …Too many of these awesome lectures aren’t on YouTube.

….There’s something a little suspicious about the p<0.05 threshold. Feel free to ignore this if you don’t know what “p<0.05” means, but definitely read this if you do. It’s for us statistics people. Speaking of which, psychology might be screwed for similar reasons.

A bit of an intro on in-groups and out-groups, and five ways to avoid falling into their trap: recognize the arbitrary nature of many ingroup-outgroup distinctions, put yourself in the place of the outgroup member, look for commonalities between opposing groups, build on your inner sense of security, and to pass along the lesson. Includes a really interesting case about a teacher who was able to set her third-grade students against each other simply by grouping them by eye-color. Something tells me that such an experiment won’t get past the IRB anymore…

The Tax Taxonomy. A cute name for a good analysis of various taxes and how regressive or progressive they are.

…Alonzo Fyfe of Atheist Ethicist does a pretty good take-down of the idea of “takers” and “makers”, by pointing out that the typical “makers” / job creators are actually the beneficiaries of a lot of tax breaks and other various deals.

…Krugman reminds us that deficits are basically money we owe ourselves and thus not the tremendous risk to our economy as they seem.

A TED talk about how to give a popular TED talk. Statistics and hillarity ensue.

The US electoral map redrawn, making “states” of equal population. Interesting for both people that like maps and people that like electoral politics.