Mind the gap

Little to add to this terrific post of dr. Nic. My approach is to try to package the material in (hopefully) funny or engaging stories. That being said the stories have to be adjusted to the audience, otherwise it’s going to be a waste of time for everyone…

Learn and Teach Mathematics and Statistics

Teach the students you have

Our job as teachers at any level is to teach the students we have. I embrace this idea from Dr Kevin Maxwell:

“Our job is to teach the students we have.
Not the ones we would like to have.
Not the ones we used to have.
Those we have right now.
All of them.”

I believe Maxwell’s focus was on the diverse learning needs we have in our classes. I would like to take another angle on this. If students do not have the needed skills to learn what we are teaching, then we need to teach those skills.

In many subjects, content and the skills are largely uncoupled. For example in history, a skill might be to integrate material from two conflicting sources. You can learn this in multiple contexts, and you do not need to know the history of the world up until 1939…

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Language makers

Ah, fitting that I get to read this blog post after having spent a day of writing and discussing the art of writing.

It seems to me that most of the writers using those neologisms described by my philosopher friend haven’t seen the following:

“The postulation that generously proportioned verbiages make an affirmative impression on personages who inspect your inscriptions is a fallacy”

Malmfors et al, 2002, p. 54

Or for a more mathematical exposition see: Siegfried 1970 in the journal of political economy (e.g. http://faculty.smu.edu/millimet/classes/eco7377/papers/siegfried.pdf)


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Generell bin ich nicht gegen Neologismen. Sie sind jedenfalls besser als der philologistische Versuch, auf Biegen und Brechen irgendeinen Terminus aus der Tradition zu finden, der genau die Idee schon immer ausdrückte. Peter Simons’ Termini truthbearer undtruthmakerfand ich z.B. immer gut. Sie geben einem eine suggestive Sprachkonvention zur Unterscheidung zwischen Aussagen als Zeichen und Bezeichnetem von Aussagen.

Aber diese neue Mode mit dem daraus abgeleiteten Verb “I truthmake”, “you truthmake”, “he/she/it truthmakes” wird mich noch umbringen. Gegenstände erfüllen Prädikate – wissen wir seit vielen Jahrzehnten – wodurch die Prädikation gegebenenfalls wahr wird. Das sage ich, um eventuell ahistorischen Übersetzern dieses Unfugs ins Deutsche den Wind aus den Segeln zu nehmen.

Der historische Analphabetismus der Peer-Review-Unkultur droht, aus der akademischen Philosophie eine Disziplin zu machen, die sich in ihrem Jargon erschöpft. Der Umstand, dass der Zeitgenosse den Jargon beherrscht, wird wichtiger als was er zu…

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Killing EJMR

Some food for thought for economists…, and their employers

Jim Campbell

For the last couple of weeks, the online economics community has been discussing and reacting to rampant misogyny on a website, Economics Job Market Rumors. A Justin Wolfers post to The Upshot at the New York Times reported on research by Alice Wu that laid bare the ugly, shocking language used to describe women on the website.

I recommend this post by Emily Eisner, Fiona Burlig and Aluma Dembo for a brief overview of recent research on gender inequality and discrimination in economics. Beatrice Cherrier’s post on the topic is rich and thoughtful.

The context of this discussion is that women are unacceptably underrepresented at all levels of the economics profession (source):


Our profession, our work, and our image suffer from being male-dominated. EJMR is both a disease unto itself, and a symptom of a sick discipline.

Killing EJMR

One: the supply of bullying and bile on this anonymous…

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Acronyms at the Acropolis: EAERE, MARE and MPAs


Part of my academic responsibilities include spending some time abroad to go “conferencing” with my peers to share ideas and research findings. For this year I decided to split my travel budget between a standard environmental economics conference (EAERE) and a more interdisciplinary one (MARE). I was positively surprised by both.

As many scientists I am a bit introverted and dislike large crowds of mostly unknown people. This is a large disadvantage at conferences like EAERE where several hundred environmental economists gather from all over Europe and beyond. This year, however, has been “like getting into a warm bath” as they say in Dutch — and not just because it was 42 °C outside in Athens where the conference took place.

This is due in part to the fact that after several years at this conference, I know enough people to spend the coffee and lunch…

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10 hints to make the most of teaching and academic conferences

Now that the conference season has ended for most of us Dr. Nic from Learn & Teach Statistics shares 10 useful tips and tricks when attending conferences. Although I learned some of these the hard way, some of them are actually new to me.

I have only one thing to add that I learned the hard way: know your audience both when you pick your clothes and when you prepare your slides. I’ve been overdressed a number of times (there really is NO need for a suit when dealing with environmental economists) and suffered through many incomprehensible presentations and probably made the public suffer through a number of mine.

If you haven’t been to a particular conference before ask friends or colleagues who have.

Learn and Teach Mathematics and Statistics

Hints for conference benefit maximisation

I am writing this post in a spartan bedroom in Glenn Hall at La Trobe University in Bundoora (Melbourne, Australia.) Some outrageously loud crows are doing what crows do best outside my window, and I am pondering on how to get the most out of conferences. In my previous life as a University academic, I attended a variety of conferences, and discovered some basic hints for enjoying them and feeling that my time was productively used. In the interests of helping conference newcomers I share them here. They are in no particular order.

1. Lower your expectations

Sad, but true, many conference presentations are obvious, obscure or dull. And some are annoying. If you happen to hit an interesting and entertaining presentation – make the most of it. I have talked to several newbies this afternoon whose experience of the MAV conference could be described…

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Why Are Dining Etiquette Rules So Illogical? Game Theory Tuesdays

Presh Talwalkar at mindyourdecisions.com

Everyone at my wedding reception table is getting served steak and chicken and they are waiting patiently until I get my vegetarian dish. It is proper manners, after all, that no one eats until everyone has their food.

Source: Why Are Dining Etiquette Rules So Illogical? Game Theory Tuesdays

Presh goes on to point out that dining etiquette is a costly signal to show that you are well educated. An interesting twist to this interpretation is that dining rules are culturally determined, as I’ve recently experienced.

For example, over lunch the Danes tend not to wait until everyone has their food. They usually start immediately, at least in the canteen. My suspicion is that this is due to the fact that most Danes bring their own lunch, as the Dutch do. Therefore, there is usually no need to wait. This in contrast to (Southern) Germany where lunch is typically a warm meal so the same rules as with dinner apply, and everyone waits.

Another interesting difference is that Danes tend to eat their lunch sandwiches with knife and fork rather than with their hands as the Dutch do. From a hygiene and a prolong your lunch point of view there is certainly something to be said for that custom, but if you’re not used to it, at times it does seem  bit strange.

This puts up an interesting but touchy subject: migration and integration. Personally, I still don’t eat my sandwiches with knife and fork, and in Southern Germany I continued to bring my own packed lunch, as I do today in Denmark, but at least I know of the rules. If dining rules really are a costly signal, in how far are they costly signals of being well integrated?

Brian Eno as a philosopher

The author of this blog is a friend of mine and a philosopher, specializing in logic and religion. He does occasionally have interesting thoughts on economics as well as the post below shows.

I agree that to some schools within economics the invisible hand is religion. They have been blessed (or cursed) with eternal faith in it. I’m not among those, but then again, I think that applies to many environmental economists.

As a final note on Thatcher and individualism: there has been a long debate (and still is) in economics on how to add up the preferences of individuals to figure out the preferences of society as a whole. And then Kenneth Arrow proved under very reasonable assumptions about humans that it was not possible!

Does that mean that society does not exist, or should not on occasions make choices for individuals? Of course not! But it does mean that we should be very careful when making decisions, and look at who is influenced. And that is in fact what environmental economics is all about…


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Nachdem der einflussreiche und militante ultralinke Kosmas Psychopedis verstorben war und der Fachbereich Wirtschaft des Athener Juridikums mich für seine Nachfolge ausgeschlossen hatte, lehrte Yanis Varoufakis auch das Fach Philosophie dort. Trotzdem überließ er jetzt in der Gründungsveranstaltung seiner postmodernen Partei (“linken” werden diejenigen sagen, die nicht so genau wissen) Brian Eno die Rolle des Chefphilosophen.

Enos Stellungnahme war philosophisch anregend! Er polemisierte gegen Smiths “unsichtbare Hand” mit dem Argument, die Vorstellung, es sei zum Besten der Wirtschaft, wenn wir uns in diese nicht einmischen, sei religiös. Und er brachte Hayeks (und Poppers und Schumpeters) methodologischen Individualismus sehr treffend auf den Punkt mit einem Zitat Margaret Thatchers: “So etwas wie die Gesellschaft gibt es gar nicht”.

Ich behaupte, dass Eno keinen Fehler beging, als er die unsichtbare Hand mit Religion gleichsetzte; ebenfalls keinen, als er Thatchers Spruch für Hayek für charakteristisch hielt. Allerdings behaupte ich, dass er…

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Welcome to my freshly created blog.

Knowing myself, I will not post things very regularly, but you are welcome to check this website whenever you like. I just might ventilate my opinion here, or leave a personal note about life in Denmark, or the world in general.

For the non-Dutch-speaking among you: the name of the website is a pun(t) on my  last name. Those who know me well, know I have plenty of these up my sleeve; they just tend to slip-out…