Friday, December 28, 2007

cat crazy

OK, it's Christmas break, so I'm going through my list of things-to-blog-- and I ran across this Speed Bump by Dave Coverley from October 16.

In addition to being funny, it gives me the occasion to mention research which indicates that having cats can make you crazy. This story describes Toxoplasma gondii-- a parasite that can migrate into one's brain and change behavior!

As such, it joins a short but interesting list where cause and effect are difficult to ascertain-- examples of false-cause fallacy, something covered in the first chapter of every Econ book.

Other examples: We used to think that elderly people fell and then broke their hips. Now, they think that they often break their hips while standing-- and then fall. Or a policy example: if guns purchased and crimes increase in a given year, are people buying guns to commit crimes-- or are they buying more guns (to defend themselves) because more crimes are being committed? Without better data, the inferences from the data will be driven by one's priors/biases.


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