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This paper continues down a discussion that we have spoken of in class regarding the huge difference that emotional states can have on decision making between what appear on the surface to be very similar emotions. Shame and disgust would almost instantly come to mind as similar emotions intimately related and prior to this class I would have assumed them to have nearly the same effect on emotional decision making. However, the authors of this paper found that shame (and other emotions) lead to an 82% reduction in odds that a person would purchase tobacco and disgust only had a 66% reduction. The impact of these findings speak for themselves. However, the authors bring up one of the main concerns in regards to the significance and impact of their findings; how long will the individual remain committed to not smoking or not purchasing the cigarettes at a given price. Tobacco is an addictive substance and the memory of a pictorial warning and the emotive state it induced are temporary and will be forgotten quickly. Will the consumer's commitment to not smoking remain as time elapses? The answer seems to be yes, the picture and text warnings do seem to have a significant effect over the long run at reducing smoking. The authors point to Canada and Brazil as prime examples that continued campaigns that induce negative emotions toward smoking can lower smoking habits over a period of time. I think the best example that these pictorial and text campaigns work is by looking at how hard the tobacco companies are fighting against these campaigns. Tobacco companies wouldn't be spending millions and millions of dollars fighting these pictorial and text ad campaigns on their cigarette packs if they didnt think it would hurt their bottom line and reduce smoking.
Toggle Commented Nov 9, 2015 on ECON 398 for next Tuesday at Jolly Green General
The paper begins with an interesting proposal: that quick heuristic and emotionally driven decision-making can not only equal but outperform long drawn-out analytical frameworks for decision making. Originally emotions as a factor in decision making were left out of research as they were difficult to predict and almost impossible to measure in any scientific way. One of the more interesting notions in this paper was the idea that each emotion is attributable to distinctly different goals as far as weighting importing aspects of a decision making process. The manner in which emotions were distinguished from one another was also interesting to me: “emotions could be differentiated in terms of the following five experimental categories: feelings, thoughts, action tendencies, actions, and emotivational goods”. Using these factors, emotions and their impact on the cognitive decision making process could be quantified and analyzed. However, the authors make clear that there is still much difficulty in determining behavioral predictions and understanding the intricacies as emotional valences (and making decisions while influenced by multiple emotions). Like others have noted, I find the account of endogenous versus exogenous variables particularly important. I understand that the researchers had to constrain the scope of their paper and the findings, but it is curious that and exogenous emotions were left out of consideration. I know that in my own life, many time I make decisions based off of emotions and in particular exogenous emotions (important ones too). I would like to read more or learn more about the effects of exogenous emotions on decision making, I don’t feel like they are the “bloopers” and non-important emotions that the authors claim.
Toggle Commented Nov 3, 2015 on Econ 398 at Jolly Green General
The discussion on the theory of mind particularly caught my attention in this chapter. The author takes great care to establish the difference between the theory of mind and empathy. “ ToM or mentalizing differs from empathy in that the former does not denote a sharing of another person’s affect but rather a cognitive understanding of another person’s intentions or belief” (517). One of the examples used to display the difference between empathy and ToM is through looking at those who fall under the autistic spectrum and those who are psychopaths, these individuals tend to be capable of understanding other people’s intentions or beliefs but at the same time do not experience their emotions or understand their feelings. One of the early tests for ToM was with false belief tests and children, I found this interesting as I had never really thought about how kids cognitively develop with respect to understanding other people’s thought processes. The children would be told a story of how child a places a ball in a basket but child b moves it to another place, the child would then be asked where child A will look for the ball. After further research and using the new imaging devices to measure the brain at work, researchers can more accurately discuss the development of different aspects of ToM. “the ability to understand mental state concepts like desires, goals, and feelings develops earlier than the ability to represent more abstract contents of mental states, such as beliefs… the former relies on functions of the mPFC, whereas the latter is specifically associated with TPJ functions” (518). It was somewhat difficult to conceptualize ToM on a standalone basis, as I feel like emotions almost always play a factor and influence my own personal ability to “mentalize”. The text also discusses the idea that one tends to set their base level mentalizing as their own mind and can therefore fall trap to “anchoring and adjusting”. This reminded me of our class discussion the other week on how we irrationally think that the way we see the world what we view as beautiful, morally right, or any number of these issues is objective and everyone views these topics on the same scale as we do. It was also interesting to read that the mPFC is also is also involved in the brain process of introspection.
Toggle Commented Oct 27, 2015 on econ 398 next two weeks at Jolly Green General
The study of neuroscience and behavior as the book point out is one that is relatively new and still in its budding phases as we gain better access to technology. The application of neuroscience and the study of behavior naturally applies itself to the study of economics, but as many of my fellow classmates have noted, the integration of the two is not easy. Many of the core underlying assumptions of economic theory and the models that guide current political and academic thought are shown not to hold in reality. The question then arises whether or not these models can still be useful and whether we can somehow adapt our models to account for more accurate depictions of choice and the actions that guide consumption and production. The study of the human mind both technically with neuroscience and less technically so through psychology has yielded interesting findings in regards to how we make decisions. Freshman year I took Intro to political philosophy with Eduardo Velasquez where we read a book by Haidt titled "The Righteous Mind". The book dealt with the perception of rationality even within ourselves when we may truly have no idea why we believe something or decided an action. He likens the human mind to a man atop an elephant whereby the man (conscious thought) can prod and attempt to guide the elephant (subconscious/emotional) but the truth is that the elephant leads the path and the man can merely help guide the way. Haidt describes the process of decision-making; stating that people make up there minds first through instinct/gut/emotion and then only subsequently seek the rational and logical reasoning behind it in an attempt to legitimize the decision of the subconscious. The work in neuroscience and particularly in neuroeconomics deals with a similar problem in that consumers (much like in every other aspect of their lives) do not act rationally, but rather attempt to rationalize after the fact.
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2015 on ECON 398 at Jolly Green General
This paper like many others we have discussed or read in class attempts to extract policy initiatives from a successful developing country and apply it to a struggling developing nation. We learned about the Washington Consensus early in the class and the Western theory of development that pushed for transparency, free and fair markets, and limited government intervention. However evidence of late seemingly points in the opposite direction. The Latin American countries that adopted these policies excelled for a while before stagnating and declining. However, the High Performance Asian Economies adopted some parts of consensus, but implemented the exact opposite policies in most other cases. China paved its road to economic development through the implementation of historical development model, but growth could not have been achieved if the government had not imposed the assumptions of the models through strict regulation and oversight. The Lewis two sector model appears to fit at least in part with china's development, and the government's regulated opening of rural chinese to free markets allowed the productivity of agriculture to rise substantially. Theoretically the rise in agricultural productivity lead to a mpl in agriculture of 0, whereby farmers could move to the city without harming agriculture at all and only helping the urban sector. Africa as was stated in the article is much different, if not only because of the fact that it is a continent made up of many vastly different countries. I was surprised to read that Africa was actually better off regarding poverty in the 1970's, and then the incredible push China was able to make while Africa stagnated. The chinese push forward did not come without its own downfalls, as the author mentioned, income did rise substantially and the absolute poverty rate dropped significantly, but income inequality also rose steeply. I am interested to witness the future of Africa as China is taking deep monetary and political interests in the continent, which may play out as a mutual benefit or perhaps in a less altruistic manner.
Toggle Commented Dec 8, 2013 on China and Africa (Econ 280) at Jolly Green General
Rodrick begins his paper stating that it revolves around two key arguments, "One is that neoclassical economic analysis is a lot more flexible than its practitioners in the policy domain have generally given it credit... The second argument is that igniting economic growth and sustaining it are somewhat different enterprises". The arguments presented seem to be very similar to the ideas we have been discussing in class insofar as traditional growth policies do not always work, the inertia associated with growth is not as strong as previously thought, and there is no uniform growth plan that can apply across countries. Rodrick discusses the way varying growth models have come in and out of intellectual dominance, but that more recently the "Washington Consensus" has taken the top spot. However, even that broad theory, which outlines underlying economic principles of property rights, more open markets, sound money, etc. failed to produce in Argentina. Rodrick's paper is not meant to be a sweeping thesis that changes growth economics, but rather it seems to me more a caution to the field that individual countries are immensely diverse even if they seem similar, and that a one size fits all growth model will not succeed.
Toggle Commented Sep 26, 2013 on Growth Strategies - Econ 280 at Jolly Green General
I agree with many of the comments before me, and understand the purpose for Krugman writing this article. The comparison of African map accuracy to economic modeling accuracy was spot on, insofar as society has evolved so far technologically that we expect our scientists to be able to model with absolute accuracy. The cultural attitude of scientific fact lead to a backpedalling of sorts in African cartography as well as development economics. Furhermore, Krugman's allusion to the ability of scientists to fairly simply (and accurately) model the weather patterns of earth using a dish tray, some water, and a current lends to the conclusion that regardless of broad sweeping assumptions in models, they can be accurate and helpful tools for understanding the world. Development economics has come a long way since the high development theory, but I believe Krugman mentioned that too this day even there is a lingering since that some models cannot be trusted due to their assumptions and non-traditional viewpoints.
As mentioned by many of the comments before me, I was surprised by the choices made by the impoverished regarding material and consumption goods not related to sustenance. I think that beyond merely looking at the data as revealing a vicious cycle of perpetual poverty that feeds negligent or complacent behavior; the distribution of income spent on entertainment goods, alcohol, and tobacco highlights intrinsic human behavior. The inability to place future earnings, consumption, well-being, etc above temporal desires and cravings is ubiquitous in todays world, granted in very different ways. The poor in developing countries forgo fertilizer, food, and proper shelter for temporal nicotine, alcohol, and entertainment pleasure. However, everyday I see students and myself put off studying, working out, or intellectual attainment for netflix, hikes, and the list goes on. When speaking about the developing worlds inability to invest in social capital or living standards, it is important to realize that all peoples and cultures practice these same behaviors. I cannot answer why the extremely poor remain in their status and cannot move on, but I do believe that the problem lies beyond misallocation of resources.
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2013 on Economic Lives of the Poor at Jolly Green General
CNN provides a bleak view for the future vitality of not only the ocean environment, but also the impacts that will reverberate throughout the global community. I was not aware of the severity of overfishing worldwide to the extent that it was discussed by CNN. A key component to the overfishing and destructive fishing methods has to do with the countries involved and governmental irresponsibility with regards to legislating or enforcing renewable fishing methods. The larger more affluent European nations should have no excuse for poor fishing methods or over-harvesting, and should foster renewable fishing techniques in countries with limited governmental control or care over environmental degradation with respect to the ocean. It is very disheartening in particular when the article mentioned a recently discover coral reef that will likely die before the end of this decade. The developing and undereducated nations cannot be the only ones to blame for the overfishing and harmful techniques, and the developed nations need to become more involved due to the interconnected nature of all things in the ocean. However, the developed nations must be held accountable for the oceanic degradation caused by direct runoff and pollution as well as increased global carbon levels in the air leading to ocean sequestration and eventual acidification. This article raises the concerns of oceanic degradation across many different areas, and the end result is a laundry list of nations and governments to blame. The true response to these problems involves regional as well as large scale governmental involvement in fishing practices, harvest quotas, greenhouse gas pollution, and source pollution to name just a few.
When we discussed several articles prior to the first exam, we spoke of looking into the distribution concerns involving pollution. However, at the time we were discussing distribution on a much larger global scale involving developing vs. developed countries as well as geographical concerns with coastal or island nations. Michael Tejada illuminates the importance of distribution concerns within a single nation, and how America reflects the global norm where the more impoverished and undereducated people/nations receive disproportionately large amounts of the negative impacts of climate change. As for Tejada's role in aiding these communities of environmental justice, I think it is very important and his inter-agency (interdisciplinary) approach is well founded, but it doesn't do much for the country as a whole. This may sound very insensitive as he is obviously improving the lives of many impoverished and suffering communities, but I am simply pointing out that yes his work is beneficial yet not changing the overall path of climate change or the nation's pollution problems. The EPA needs a man like Michael Tejada doing the great work he does, but the national and global climate problem cannot be solved through such rudimentary and small scale governmental actions. Tejada's work can be seen as a platform from which to expand governmental involvement in more broad cases of environmental degradation.
This article seems to give hope for the future of energy production in New York possibly yielding a model to the nation and world. However, I am not at all surprised to learn that it is theoretically feasible to implement an entirely renewable energy source for the state of New York. The fact of the matter though is that this plan is neither politically nor socially possible given the current state of the Nation and New York in particular. The upfront costs alone if proposed by a politician would likely lead to a new candidate at the position, not to mention the still chosen ignorance regarding global climate change and its current and future impacts across the globe. The numbers are very enticing to state that NY will be renewable in the coming decades granted that solar and wind energy at the current technological levels could phase out carbon emitting energy sources, but the practicality of such a drastic shift in the lifestyles and mindsets of American citizens coupled with the economic changes is not very feasible.
The statistics offered in this article are shocking and terrifying to me, and from the comments many others as well. However, it cannot be exceedingly surprising that dust storms, particulate matter, and poor air quality are becoming more prevalent. Global warming both through emissions and unsustainable agricultural practices seem to have teamed up China's most recent event. Desertification of land is rapidly increasing particularly in Africa, but as evident by this event it is taking place in China as well. Ground sediments loosened by slash and burn agriculture, emissions, and the deserts they produce can travel large distances. China is not the only country that experiences particulate matter, but considering the levels measured by the US embassy it seems they may experience some of the worst events. The local effects of pollution are forcing the government to take actions, but the question is how quickly solutions can be implemented and benefits be seen. As has been mentioned above, this issue can not be looked at as geographically constrained. The effects of Chinese pollution effect the world everyday, as do the emissions of the United States. A global approach must be taken to limit pollution, and move towards renewable and cleaner energy sources. The structure of the Chinese government lends itself well to swift legislative solutions, and as Professor Casey stated they are imposing taxes and moving towards safer energy sources. However, the backlash over air quality during the 2008 olympics and subsequent policy attempts to clean it up seem to have either been temporal or simply inadequate. This is a wake up call for the China and the world; business as usual is no longer an option, steps need to be taken globally to address climate change.
Toggle Commented Mar 5, 2013 on Off The Charts at Jolly Green General
This article gives great hope for what the future may hold in governmental policy initiatives to limit pollution. However, looking at this issue from a realistic/pessimistic point of view this program is but a drop out of the bucket with regards to global carbon emissions. The articles and journal items that we have read for class call for a global initiative to limit carbon emissions as the only way to prevent crossing a climate threshold with unknown but serious consequences. America does not have the time to wait for every state in the US to individually pass legislation limiting pollution. As was stated above, some states are likely to wait indefinitely in crafting legislation, with particular emphasis on the red states. If the tea party continues to gain traction politically, then a halt on climate change is certainly going to take place given they do not even believe it climate change exists. The federal government must not only take charge of America's emissions, but also work globally in setting restrictions and limiting carbon output. Obama's state of the union address though lacking specifics gives great hope that such policies will come to fruition. Certainly, a zero emission US is out of the question but limiting domestic and foreign emissions may give the world a long enough window to compensate economically and socially for the impending changes to the environment that are to come from the almost 400ppm CO2 levels currently in the atmosphere and rising daily.
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2013 on Hurray for Market Forces!!!! at Jolly Green General
This article addresses an interesting and complex element of emissions and atmospheric pollution. The piece we read earlier last week regarding the ultra-fine particulates and their role in around half a million deaths was stunning. The effects of "black carbon" are certainly visible as was evident in the Beijing Olympics, when athletes withdrew or wore masks around the city to prevent any encounter with the heavy pollution. I do have to disagree with the article with respect to placing black carbon as the second most influential form of pollution behind CO2. Firstly, carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for upwards of four hundred years, constantly heating the earth the entire time. The black carbon particulates according to the author do not remain in the atmosphere very long, though they do reduce albedo of arctic landscapes when they mix with precipitation. I certainly agree that black carbon emissions should be reduced, but I think he grossly overestimates the marginal damage function with respect to the soot. Furthermore, the watt per meter squared statistic that he presented of 1.1 for black carbon was a very rough estimate. What I mean by rough estimate is that, he presented a 90% confidence that ranged drastically from above CO2 at 2.1 too well below other factors of pollution at .17. I think that before addressing the black carbon problem with any explicit and specific legislation a much more accurate study regarding the impact of black carbon must be done. I am not saying that nothing should be done, but I think the focus currently should be on reducing well known greenhouse gas emissions as well as ultra fine particulates and other such documented and well understood sources of climate change.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2013 on Worse than we thought.... at Jolly Green General
The fact that America is lagging so far behind the other developed nations with respect to climate change is embarrassing. The US can not call itself a world leader (for good), if it continuously overlooks issues as important as to the health and well-being not only of the environment, but also of the citizens in the US and abroad. The simple solution is to begin taxing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at a rate that will eventually bring the price of these resources up to the socially optimal level. A possible solution to the issue of "overtaxing" by implementing an emissions tax, is to reallocate where total tax revenue is derived. If the government were to increase energy use taxes across the board on consumers and producers while cutting out subsidies, it could lower the corporate tax rate as well as the income tax brackets across the board. This redistribution of taxes would make the tax system less arbitrary, while putting the greatest tax burden on those who use the most energy the most inefficiently. The idea that this would be unfair to lower class citizens is a fair point, but if the tax allocation were done correctly it would not. Evidence for this comes from the first article that was to be read for homework today where Joel Darmstadter showed the correlation between GDP per capita and energy use per capita. Ultimately, a rearrangement of the tax system may not be the perfectly correct solution, but one thing is for sure and that is that Americans need to start paying the true costs of their energy usage, starting with raising the emissions taxes.
Friedman addresses two of the most critical issues facing the United States today; the climate and the national deficit. Both of these issues are severely polarizing in the political arena, and this partisanship inhibits any meaningful legislation from being passed. The left and the right use these issues as litmus tests for party lines as well as talking points for political rhetoric. Friedman attempts to circumvent politics in identifying two critical points of no return; the environment reaching 450 ppm in greenhouse gases, and the deficit equaling 90% or above the nation's GDP. He offers a solution of a carbon tax per ton of emission, which he claims would cut the 10 year deficit in half. I agree that a carbon tax could be a possible solution, but that it should likely be less aggressive and combined with a more harsh cap and trade system. Furthermore, he mentions his desire for the carbon tax to supersede any legislation regarding social programs, "What would you rather do to help solve our fiscal problem: Give up your home mortgage deduction and wait two more years for Social Security and Medicare, or pay a little extra for gasoline and electricity?". The statement by Friedman is very simplistic, (as it has to be in an editorial), and I disagree that social security and medicare would not need to be curtailed and altered. However, that is an issue for another time, and Friedman does offer valuable information and analysis of the current climate and deficit crisis.
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Jan 10, 2013