Articles to 2014-06-22

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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

Richard Feynman has included Social Psychology in his list of Cargo Cult sciences and according to Bohannon and Klein et al. not much has changed since. The blame of persecution is of course utter nonsense. If the data were reported and evaluated honestly and correctly, all but one in twenty studies would be successfully replicated – and the claimed p-values tend to be very much smaller than 5 % in most cases.

In Aizer’s figure 1 one group, white women with college degrees, occur twice, so they ought to have identical group sizes in both cases but haven’t. Is this another example for the reliability of peer review?

Quoting Picketty, Marshall extols the value of a progressive tax for countering inequality. Not so. In nearly all industrial states the tax is limited and becomes flat somewhere slightly above the income of a skilled worker or craftsman. More than that and, with all the exemptions and exceptions those able to afford expensive lawyers have access to, the effective tax rate actually drops significantly for the highest income groups, which is why a low flat tax with no exemptions will never come.

Pringle hopes the move towards a genuine meritocracy will diminish the role of birth and enhance openness and mobility. It sounds plausible, were it not for an exceedingly strong recent counter movement. As Murray points out and proves with an abundance of facts and statistics, world population and long distance communications have both expanded so much in the last few decades, that the top one per cent or even the top one per mill of society has grown big enough and connected enough to have become endogamous and closed off from the rest of the population. This creates an entirely new situation with no historical precedent.

If Underwood were correct in her numbers, then social mobility was exceedingly high. Only 20 % of all people ever reach the top fifth of the earning distribution, so if a full 16 % from even the lowest fifth do, as she claims for Denmark, the family, people come from, would play nearly no role at all. What’s more, this rise is said already to be achieved at age thirty, while, as Marshall points out, successful industrial leaders only achieve their full potential when aged about fifty. According to Clark (whom I’ve not yet read) up to 80 % of the status reached in life is predictable at birth.

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