Taleb on Staying in the Game

Nassim Taleb was a recent guest on EconTalk. He discussed his ideas on loss aversion, speficially that there is nothing irrational about loss aversion because avoiding total loss is a prerequisite for playing the game. He quotes Warren Buffet as saying, “in order to succeed, you must first survive.” He also discussed it in the context of mental accounting, suggesting that mental accounting is the rational way to think about investing. Only making risky investments with “house money” can protect from total loss. Moreover, these strategies naturally evolve because those who don’t adopt them go bust and are weeded out of the game.

Always provocative. Often scattered and hard to follow. Taleb presents interesting ideas that run counter to mainstream thinking.

Governance Structure in the Private Sector & Worker Rights

Interesting Episode of EconTalk where Elizabeth Anderson makes the case that employment shares striking similarity with dictatorship.  This perspective may help explain why representative governments (where workers do have a voice) introduce regulations that business leadership otherwise would not have an incentive to implement.

How to Add Frequencies as a Variable in SPSS

This post will cover how to add the number of times a certain response has been given for a variable (its frequency or count), and append this information to the data set as a new variable in SPSS. For example, say you have a list of names. Next to each name you’d like to add the number of times the name appears in the list. In SPSS, this information is easy to view with the “frequencies” dialogue, but how do you add it as a variable automatically?

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Doing Math in Qualtrics

Sometimes when creating surveys in Qualtrics you wish to do some kind of math on a respondent’s answer. This post outlines a simple way to do so using javascript.

The procedure involves three main components. First, there are the questions themselves. These are the responses you wish to do some math operations on. Second, there are embedded data variables. You create these variables in the survey flow, and they allow you to save the values you calculate for later use. For example, you could use them in the survey flow (branch logic) or display the values as piped text. Third, there is the javascript. The javascript reads the answers of the questions, performs the math, and saves the embedded data variables.

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If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate. – Thomas J. Watson