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Comment Re:Headline misleading (Score 1) 437

This is not a problem with humans ability to determine probability.

This is a known issue with probability-based decisions. I known I've seen a couple studies on the topic, I just can't find a cite right now.

But that's an interesting point on people not turning in other people when the punishment is too steep. Advances in detecting cheating, and more resources spent on detecting it, may make that issue insignificant compared to the chance of getting caught by the proctor. It's an interesting thought.

Your points are lacking. Why not make cheating impractical? It's pretty easy. It also has the advantage of making tests more comprehensive. Granted, you might have less of them because they wouldn't be as easy to score.

Emphasis mine.

I don't think it's as easy as you say. Otherwise, it would be done more often. It's expensive to write, administer, and grade more comprehensive exams. Given that most college classes only have 2 or 3 exams, would you really reduce the number of exams? And if fewer people are cheating, because it is impractical, then the benefit of cheating successfully increases.

Comment Re:Headline misleading (Score 1) 437

you should look at how people have tried to apply these models to "prevent" filesharing. We're up to what, 2 million$?

I have looked at it. The **AA attempts to rein in filesharing, while wrongheaded IMO, have been effective to some degree. The cost of being caught is enough to be a disincentive to a lot of people.

Society's "cost" and the cost you attempt to put in something are entirely different things, thus trying to give people motivators away from an activity doesn't necessarily work, ever.

That does not make sense. Society's costs, even the labels' costs, are externialities to the pirate, and thus immaterial (from an economic standpoint) to the individual's decision to pirate or not pirate.

Whether or not you agree with the **AA's stance and the societal impact, the fact is that the model is applicable.

Comment Re:Headline misleading (Score 1) 437

The main problem I see with your formula is that the terms are quite nebulous. Even if you could derive meaningful numbers for the terms, the average student doesn't. That calculation is done in a more ad-hoc way by each persons perception of the risks vs rewards.

True. Which is why behavioral psychology is becoming such an important part of microeconomics and other fields these days, and why I touched on the problems humans have with VLNs and VSNs and probability decisions.

You have several schisms of perception here. One is the perception of the value of a degree vs the value of the "education" that the degree represents. I think students VERY RIGHTLY value the degree over the education, because that is the value that our society puts on it.

Yes and no. It's hard to measure the value of the education behind the degree, but it's relatively easy to measure the value of the degree itself. So we measure one but not the other, which has led to having the actual degree being more important.

I will say that when I hire, a degree is not generally required -- however, it's a plus, as it shows that the applicant was able to achieve *something*. But when I interview for any position, I'm interested in problem-solving ability, social skills, general ethics, work ethic, determination, etc. A degree from an accredited institution should require all those general skills and more, or the ability to overcome a deficiency in any of them (except ethics -- there is no workaround for ethics).

The problem is that employers don't have the time to evaluate every candidate on the specific items. So they use a degree as an approximation -- it really is the education itself that employers value. The problem is that cheaters break the system, as they make the degree less useful a metric -- they devalue the education the degree represents.

In your case, that's probably a good thing :).

Comment Re:Headline misleading (Score 2) 437

Your example includes two factors -- the first being the extent of the punishment. The second, and more important to your example, is the risk of getting caught. The highway robbers *reduced* the risk of getting caught by killing their victims -- thus, given equivalent punishments, killing their victims became the better strategy. When the punishment for highway robbery was less severe, the importance of not getting caught was reduced.

This does not apply to cheating in the same manner, as cheating on more assignments increases the risk of getting caught, without impacting the level of punishment (if you get caught once or a dozen times, you still end up expelled -- so better to cheat minimally, or not at all, and not get caught).

The most likely outcome of increasing the punishment for cheating fits into the model I gave. If you increase the cost of cheating, some cheaters will devote more resources to cheating (reduce the risk of getting caught and increase the cost of cheating). Some cheaters will find it no longer beneficial to cheat, and will stop -- for these cheaters, the new risk*cost of getting caught is greater than the benefit of cheating.

Comment Re:Weather Alert (Score 1) 509

Sure. Hordes of economists work on calculating the multiplier effect of public spending (Keynes being the first major one).

Read Joseph Stiglitz's work from the early 70s.

He also touches on it in Stiglitz & Bilmes, The Three Trillion Dollar War,, 2010.

Also: Miles, Myles & Preston, The Economics of Public Spending, 2003.

I'd also suggest reading articles by Barro and/or Krugman on the multiplier effect as it relates to our current spending.

Note that even non-Keynesians tend to recognize that there is a multiplicative effect on public spending, although there are some discrepancies on the estimated values.

And just think about it. When we spend a few hundred billion dollars on war materiel, what do we have to show for it at the end? When we spend the same on transportation infrastructure, education, etc, what do we have to show for it at the end?

Comment Re:Weather Alert (Score 1) 509

I'm tired of reading these same truth-twisting canards.

The federal income tax does not exist in isolation. The total tax burden on individuals in the US is pretty equivalent for all income levels in the US, roughly 40-45% (when you include FICA, state income tax, property tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, etc).

Median household income in the USA is $50K but a typical married couple with 2 children and income less than $44K pay no federal income tax.

Sorry to break it to you, but a "typical married couple with 2 children with income less than $44k" is far lower than the median on per capita income. Average household size in the US is only 2.59 people, so your connection between the "typical" family with two kids earning $44k to the median household is egregiously inapt.

Besides which, my point still holds. If you give that so-called "typical" family more cash, they will spend it and stimulate the economy. If you give the same cash to the top earners, it will not stimulate the economy.

Comment Re:Require Truck Licenses (Score 1) 509

We're not arguing about the way things are, we're arguing about the way they should be.

First, there is a misunderstanding on your part of the way things are:

So SUVs are light *trucks* you say...

I put it in quotes for a reason. "Light truck" is a different classification from "truck". "Light trucks" and "trucks" have different CAFE standards.

Are you proposing we tier the licensing requirements even further, to match the CAFE classifications? Or are you suggesting we eliminate some of the CAFE classifications to match licensing standards?

Furthermore, licensing standards are handled on a state level, while CAFE requirements are federal. Do you propose each state implement its own CAFE requirements? Or that the federal government assume operating license responsibilities?

We are arguing both about they way things are, and the way they should be. Parent to my OP in the thread made an obvious error wrt vehicle classifications. I corrected this, then proposed my own preferred solution to the problem.

Comment Re:Headline misleading (Score 4, Interesting) 437

that sounds nice and all, but that's not a real world scenario or even close to.

It's not a scenario, it's a model. Any real-world scenario will fit into that model... and if not, the model, like any other, can be adjusted.

even if you believe you can detect cheating accurately, the reality will always prove otherwise.

Well, no shit. That's why there is a factor for risk of getting caught.

Also, "Severity of the crime" never, ever works. Ever. blowing it out of proportion to act as a deterrent only pisses people off and causes it's own set of problems.

Are you sure about that? Do you really believe that deterrent punishments have no effect on the likelihood of people to break the rules? Deterrent punishments work, to a certain extent. This is why people who believe they are anonymous or hidden will break rules they'd never break if they thought they'd be held accountable. If the punishment is severe, it may be resented, but it acts a deterrent. Whether the deterrence effect is significant enough to overcome the benefits of the behavior depends on the actual scenario.

The rest of your post also fits into my model. That online exam? Perfect example... easy to cheat, not likely to get caught... thus, people will cheat as it is less costly than actually doing the work required to honestly get a good grade.

None of this excuses people from cheating, but it calls into question the same thing again: that maybe a curriculum should be examined, the class should be examined, the teacher should be examined, and the class environment should be examined. Any of those or a combination of could lead to the answer.

Exactly. If your goal is to reduce cheating, you need to consider the factors that make cheating worthwhile to students... which is described by the equation I wrote out.

I think we're basically stating the same thing... but approaching it from different angles.

The main place where I think we differ is that you seem to assign the cause of cheating to the class environment. I assign it to the student, but the decision each student makes is influenced by many factors: their perceived reward from cheating, the punishment for getting caught, the risk of getting caught, etc.

Comment Re:Headline misleading (Score 4, Interesting) 437

to simply go after cheaters is putting a band-aid over the real problem.

I disagree. Some portion of students will cheat as long as (in theory):

[benefit of higher grade] - [cost of honestly achieving higher grade] > {[benefit of cheating] - [cost of cheating]} * [ risk of getting caught cheating] * [value of punishment for cheating].

The real problem is that people are lazy and want to get the best return for the smallest investment. This cannot be fixed, it is human nature.

So we tip the equation in favor of not cheating, by either/and

1. Making the punishment so extreme (expulsion) that even if the risk of getting caught is low, cheating is not a good idea. The problem with this approach is that as the risks of getting caught decrease, people dismiss the risk as zero. This is a known problem with how humans interpret probability and risk dealing with VLNs and VSNs.
2. Increasing the chance of being caught. This is a problem because of the costs involved, as well as an "arms race" between proctors and students.

Note that the equation is also affected by the fact that cheating has become easier, and thus cheaper. There is also a factor for personal inhibitions against cheating, but I'm not sure how to fit it into the model.

PS. sorry for the messy formula.

Comment Re:Require Truck Licenses (Score 1) 509

SUVs are trucks.

No, they are "light trucks", just like normal pickup trucks and passenger vans. Light trucks do not require a CDL in any state in the US.

The entire concept of light trucks as a classification is screwy. Because of a stupid loophole, it allows car manufacturers to avoid CAFE standards for passenger vehicles of a certain size.

I don't think the answer is to require a CDL for SUV drivers. I think the answer is to force drivers of those vehicles to internalize the societal costs associated with poor fuel economy (pollution, spending on "defense" required to keep our fuel supplies secure, etc). Say, a tax levied at time of registration that is inversely proportional to the fuel economy. Commercial vehicles would be exempt from the tax, or at least have a reduced tax.

Allow people to drive SUVs if they want... just make them pay out the nose for it.

The biggest flaw I see in my idea is that you'll have people getting commercial registrations for non-commercial vehicles, and it will be hard to prevent this.

Comment Re:Clean air?? (Score 1) 509

The ciggies are carbon-neutral (obtained from plants), thus more env friendly than even a G-Wiz.

Cigarettes are not carbon-neutral. There are fossil fuels used for cultivation (fertilization, sowing, tending, fungicides and pesticides, harvesting), curing, production of the finished good, packaging, distribution, etc.

Almost nothing you can buy is carbon-neutral, even if plant-based. If you want it to be carbon-neutral, you need it to be grown, processed, packaged, and transported with *zero* carbon-based fuel input.

Comment Re:Weather Alert (Score 2) 509

The problem is, the government doesn't actually do anything to stimulate the economy-- except when they buy lots of military hardware, and defense spending always the first thing on the block, isn't it?

Horseshit. Utter, complete, indefensible horseshit.

Federal highway system. Aid to states. Port spending. The list is damn near endless (which is a cause of concern, of course).

And for that matter, military spending is one of the *least* stimulatory things the federal government spends money on.

Do rich people not buy stuff?

In essence, yes. Marginal spending on the top few percent of income is near zero for rich people. If you tax them at 40% instead of 35%, their spending does not change much. Not nearly so much as if you were to use the same funds to give tax breaks to the middle class or poor, where marginal spending on increased income is near 100%.

Comment Re:Positive views of the future (Score 1) 298

Are there any good sci-fi movies that have a positive view of he future?

Not any I know of. A positive future doesn't make for intriguing drama (almost all stories are based on conflict) .

Most recent things I've seen paint the world / galaxy as some sort of war-torn dystopian nightmare.

I watched the World News last night also.

I think it's great that movies focus on that kind of thing. Many of us sit discontentedly in our safe little sheltered lives, and movies based on conflict like that allow us to explore what it would be like to live in a terrible situation. Who knows, it might even encourage us to act to ensure we, and others, *don't* live in that kind of situation.

Comment Re:Which is more realistic (Score 1) 945

Mostly because if they did so they would cease to be a common carrier and be liable for every torrent.

ISPs are not common carriers. ISPs do get the benefits of common carrier status (immunity among other things). In essence, this is what Net Neutrality is all about -- forcing ISPs to have the same responsibility common carriers have.

A real common carrier is not allowed to charge different prices to different customers. They can offer tiered pricing, or discounts, but the same options and discounts must be given to all customers. This is why you can't negotiate special rates from Federal Express -- as a common carrier, all customers must get the same discounts -- so there is a strict volume-based discount offered to everyone.

Net Neutrality, roughly, is asking ISPs to adhere to common carrier restrictions on their offerings.

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