The golden age of social science

Best paper.

”Hoping that the reader will appreciate that we overemphasize differences in fields (and ignore variation within them), we define them as follows. Anthropology seeks to understand cultural differences in human societies using ethnography, unearthing physical details of human development and exploring mathematical models of coevolution of culture and genes. Economics uses math-heavy methods to understand systemic (general equilib- rium) outcomes of optimization of allocation of scarce resources, particularly money, in trading goods and services. Its main methods include theories rooted in preferences, beliefs, and constraints and analyses of field data. Political science studies formal systems of government, voting, juries, and law, which in- fluence how people make consequential decisions collectively in different systems. Ideology is a central construct, with polls and surveys being a cornerstone method, although media and finan- cial contributions data are increasingly used. Psychology seeks regularity in how people think and behave, with an emphasis on mechanisms and constructs such as memory, attention, and emotion. The main methods are laboratory experiments and psychometric or psychophysiological measures (though cognitive neuroscience uses a greater variety of newer methods). Finally, sociology investigates how the social world is created by and influ- ences how people act in social groups at different levels of formal and informal aggregation. General ideas about functions of social structure are central but are not mathematized as in economics (e.g., economists might focus on allocative efficiency defined mathemat- ically while sociologists might focus on social reproduction of elite success measured statistically or qualitatively).
Readers may view these highly reduced descriptions of their own fields as overly simplified, while perhaps believing that the descriptions of the other fields are not too bad. That perception itself illustrates why communication is a challenge for interdisciplinary work…”

Privacy vs. Surveillance in the Age of COVID-19

I think the effects of COVID-19 will be more drastic than the effects of the terrorist attacks of 9/11: not only with respect to surveillance, but across many aspects of our society. And while many things that would never be acceptable during normal time are reasonable things to do right now, we need to makes sure we can ratchet them back once the current pandemic is over
— Läs på

Communicating the coronavirus crisis |

Short of citing the entire article, I just quote this essential early part. But do go read the whole piece. It is important now, and in the future, for anyone with any level of power.

The first thing is that you should be communicating a lot, consistently and with trusted sources. You have to be open and transparent. You have to say what you do know and then you have to say what you don’t know. You have to emphasise, and keep emphasising, the uncertainty, the fact that there is much we don’t know. Then you have to say what you are planning to do and why. Finally, you have to say what people themselves can do, how they should act. The crucial thing to say is that this will change as we learn more.

— Read on

Tack till Nicklas för pekaren.

Science doesn’t speak with one voice… nor should it!

…science doesn’t speak with one voice. Instead government advisers have had to deliver evidence-based messages based on complex, incommensurate and sometimes competing data sets and models. Understanding these complexities is important not just to handling the pandemic. It also matters for how we organise research and its interaction with policy in the future. One challenge is to understand how knowledge is often fluid rather than fixed. As new data arrive and competing models seek to describe and predict a fast-changing reality it’s become increasingly clear that the science of Covid-19 is in motion.
— Read on

So incredibly well phrased. Not surprisingly at all, from the pen of Geoff Mulgan, my former-Nesta hero.

Svanen som inte var svart

Taleb har en stil jag inte uppskattar. Men sättet han tänker är det inte fel på, i min värld. Speciellt inte idag. Jag har fortfarande två njurar, och otroligt glad att jag inte är tungt belånad. Välsignad av att bo i litet hus med en trädgård att få.luft och påta runt i under den svåra period vi hanterar tillsammans. Vad som kommer efter – kan strukturerna förbättras? ‘Most definitely.’

Peter Wolodarski: Inget modernt samhälle kan tolerera massdöd

Valet mellan hälsan och ekonomin är förenklat. En god folkhälsa är en förutsättning för en god ekonomi och vice versa. Vi måste rädda båda. Den svenska ekonomin är extremt beroende av omvärlden, vi kan inte undvika en recession eller en depression genom att agera annorlunda än andra.

Så starkt. Precis min åsikt. Vi kan inte ducka, vi kan inte välja. Vi är, kanske till och med mer än andra, en del av världen.

Med lite utrymme för omdöme, på slutet

Research has found that one way to increase the acceptance of algorithms is to allow humans to adjust the final answer just a bit.44 Daniel Kahneman calls this “disciplined intuition.”45 The idea is to approach a problem systematically and then give your own judgment or intuition a role in the final decision. The evidence shows that allowing that wiggle room improves the overall quality of the decision.

Så tänkte och agerade jag kring processen ”bedöma ansökningar inom ett program” under mina 9år på Vinnova. Strikt algoritmisk process men lite utrymme för omdöme ‘på slutet’. Alltid transparent inom gruppen som beredde beslut.