Thoughts on Hausman's Critique of CVM

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May 30, 2008


tidal said...

Great post.

"Pausing" might be one of the solutions for the present, but here is my modest goal for the future that I truly believe would help: The required curriculum for undergrad economics degrees must include physics and some type of earth sciences course, preferrably to the second year level.

Not to create scientific expertise per se, but to establish (1) the common language, baseline knowledge to interact with the physical, resource and environmental scientists - a skill set that is only going increase in importance; and (2) to expose economics students to issues of scale, laws of thermodynamics, material cycles, biogeochemical cycles, etc. I'm not just talking about enviro- or ecological economics grads either. I think these courses should be core economics curriculum. I know that is not a particularly blazing insight - "enhance cross-disciplinary expertise!" - but I think the need in economics is particularly acute because we need so urgently need to expedite the interdisciplinary communications going forward.

Based on what I heard in an interview, I think that Eric Roston will be restating the case in his forthcoming book "The Carbon Age". (Although I think he recommends "Geology" or his personal framework, "Carbon Science", as the complementary study courses...).

And now, hopefully not undermining all that I have said above, and hopefully to amuse, I'll share this: A very old joke involves a pre-med taking Physics 101 and repeatedly challenging his instructor about its relevance to a medical education. Each time, his professor replies, "Physics saves lives." Exasperated after half a dozen such exchanges, the student finally asks, "Professor, just how does physics save lives?" "Why, by keeping the morons out of medical school!"

Again, great post. Lots to think about.

joshua corning said...

I will pause to look at this graph that shows the last decade of global cooling:

gormk said...

Joshua – Here are 3 questions for you (and others) as we pause to think:

1.What does the Y-axis measure in the graph, what’s the zero base all about?

2.What conclusions is the report, from which the graph comes, making about climate change in general, for the world and United States?

3.What’s the warmest year on record, where is that on the x-axis of the graph you linked to?

David - Awesome post! Well-worth advice even for so-called experts.

Dano said...

Exactly how many years of global cooling (oh, sorry - the dry side says GLOBUL COOLIN) have we had?

Exactly zero.

Yes, no cooling today. Nor yesterday.



john said...

Isn't this, in effect, the precautionary principle.

Lynne said...

Thanks for the link, David! Your guest posts here have been awesome, and Aguanomics is great too.

John, this is not the precautionary principle. The PP refers specifically to erring on the side of accepting the worst-case estimate in the face of uncertainty (where we don't know the probability distribution). What David's talking about here is the beneficial cognitive process that occurs when someone takes the time to consider new ideas, new information, new ways of thinking about a problem, and playing around with how those new ideas confront their preconceptions and firmly-held beliefs.

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