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Do Experts or Collective Intelligence Write with More Bias? Evidence from Encyclopædia Britannica and Wikipedia

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Do Experts or Collective Intelligence Write with More Bias? Evidence from Encyclopædia Britannica and Wikipedia (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Which source of information contains greater bias and slant-text written by an expert or that constructed via collective intelligence? Do the costs of acquiring, storing, displaying, and revising information shape those differences? We evaluate these questions empirically by examining slanted and biased phrases in content on U.S. political issues from two sources-Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia. Our overall slant measure is less (more) than zero when an article leans towards Democrat (Republican) viewpoints, while bias is the absolute value of the slant. Using a matched sample of pairs of articles from Britannica and Wikipedia, we show that, overall, Wikipedia articles are more slanted towards Democrat than Britannica articles, as well as more biased. Slanted Wikipedia articles tend to become less biased than Britannica articles on the same topic as they become substantially revised, and the bias on a per word basis hardly differs between the sources. These results have implications for the segregation of readers in online sources and the allocation of editorial resources in online sources using collective intelligence.

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Quantifying the Lasting Harm to the U.S. Economy from the Financial Crisis

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Quantifying the Lasting Harm to the U.S. Economy from the Financial Crisis (PDF)
Source: Stanford University and NBER

The financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession left the U.S. economy in an injured state. In 2013, output was 13 percent below its trend path from 1990 through 2007. Part of this shortfall — 3.0 percentage points of real GDP — was the result of lingering slackness in the labor market in the form of abnormal unemployment and substandard weekly hours of work. The single biggest contributor was a shortfall in business capital, which accounted for 3.9 percentage points. The second largest was a shortfall of 3.5 percentage points in total factor productivity. The fourth was a shortfall of 2.4 percentage points in labor-force participation. I discuss these four sources of the injury in detail, focusing on identifying state variables that may or may not return to earlier growth paths. The conclusion is optimistic about the capital stock and slackness in the labor market and pessimistic about reversing the declines in total factor productivity and the part of the participation shortfall not associated with the weak labor market.

Veteranness : Representations of Combat-related PTSD in U.S. Popular Visual Media

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Veteranness : Representations of Combat-related PTSD in U.S. Popular Visual Media (PDF)
Source: Michigan Technological University (Keranen)

Posttraumatic stress and PTSD are becoming familiar terms to refer to what we often call the invisible wounds of war, yet these are recent additions to a popular discourse in which images of and ideas about combat-affected veterans have long circulated. A legacy of ideas about combat veterans and war trauma thus intersects with more recent clinical information about PTSD to become part of a discourse of visual media that has defined and continues to redefine veteran for popular audiences.

In this dissertation I examine realist combat veteran representations in selected films and other visual media from three periods: during and after World Wars I and II (James Allen from I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Fred Derry and Al Stephenson from The Best Years of Our Lives); after the Vietnam War (Michael from The Deer Hunter, Eriksson from Casualties of War), and post 9/11 (Will James from The Hurt Locker, a collection of veterans from Wartorn: 1861-2010.) Employing a theoretical framework informed by visual media studies, Barthes’ concept of myth, and Foucault’s concept ofdiscursive unity, I analyze how these veteran representations are endowed with PTSD symptom-like behaviors and responses that seem reasonable and natural within the narrative arc. I contend that veteran myths appear through each veteran representation as the narrative develops and resolves. I argue that these veteran myths are many and varied but that they crystallize in a dominant veteran discourse, a discursive unity that I term veteranness. I further argue that veteranness entangles discrete categories such as veteran, combat veteran, and PTSD with veteran myths, often tying dominant discourse about combat-related PTSD to outdated or outmoded notions that significantly affect our attitudes about and treatment of veterans.

A basic premise of my research is that unless and until we learn about the lasting effects of the trauma inherent to combat, we hinder our ability to fulfill our responsibilities to war veterans. A society that limits its understanding of posttraumatic stress, PTSD and post-war experiences of actual veterans affected by war trauma to veteranness or veteran myths risks normalizing or naturalizing an unexamined set of sociocultural expectations of all veterans, rendering them voice-less, invisible, and, ultimately disposable.

The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Children’s Cognitive Development

October 17, 2014 Comments off

The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Children’s Cognitive Development (PDF)
Source: Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

This working paper makes use of a new data resource—merged birth and school records for all children born in Florida from 1992 to 2002—to study the effects of birth weight on cognitive development from kindergarten through schooling. Using twin fixed effects models, the researchers find that the effects of birth weight on cognitive development are essentially constant through the school career, that these effects are very similar across a wide range of family backgrounds, and that they are invariant to measures of school quality. They conclude that the effects of poor neonatal health on adult outcomes are therefore set very early.

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action
Source: Georgetown Climate Center

The Georgetown Climate Center released 100 recommendations today to improve federal programs that could be used to prepare for climate change. The new report will inform the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

The report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, draws from a series of workshops with leading federal, state and local officials and builds upon lessons learned post-disaster in New Orleans (following Hurricane Katrina), New York (following Hurricane Sandy) and Vermont (after Hurricane Irene). The report identifies more than 30 federal programs, initiatives and laws that can be used to prepare for extreme events such as storms, floods and heat waves as well as rising seas.

The report recognizes that recent extreme weather events and the mounting economic losses from such events have shown how vulnerable many states and communities are to climate change. Although state and local governments will be the primary actors when it comes to preparing for climate change impacts, the federal government can boost – or impede – preparedness.

See also: State and Local Adaptation Plans

How Should Health Data Be Used? Privacy, Secondary Use, and Big Data Sales

October 15, 2014 Comments off

How Should Health Data Be Used? Privacy, Secondary Use, and Big Data Sales
Source: Yale Institute for Social and Policy Studies

Electronic health records, data sharing, big data, data mining, and secondary use are enabling exciting opportunities for improving health and health care while also exacerbating privacy concerns. Two court cases about selling prescription data raise questions of what constitutes “privacy” and “public interest;” they present opportunity for ethical analysis of data privacy, commodifying data for sale and ownership, combining public and private data, data for research, and transparency and consent. These interwoven issues involve discussion of big data benefits and harms, and touch on common dualities of the individual v. the aggregate or the public interest, research (or, more broadly, innovation) v. privacy, individual v. institutional power, identification v. identity and authentication, and virtual v. real individuals and contextualized information. Transparency and accountability are needed for assessing appropriate, judicious, and ethical data use and users, as some are more compatible with societal norms and values than others.

Access Across America: Transit 2014

October 9, 2014 Comments off

Access Across America: Transit 2014
Source: University of Minnesota (Accessibility Observatory)

This study examined the accessibility to jobs by transit in 46 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States. It is the most detailed evaluation to date of access to jobs by transit, and it allows for a direct comparison of the transit accessibility performance of America’s largest metropolitan areas.

Rankings were determined by a weighted average of accessibility, giving a higher weight to closer jobs. The calculations include all components of a transit journey, including “last mile” access and egress walking segments and transfers.

The study’s report presents detailed accessibility values for each metropolitan area, as well as detailed block-level maps that illustrate the spatial patterns of accessibility within each area. A separate publication—Access Across America: Transit 2014 Methodology—describes the data and methodology.

In the future, the data presented in this study will be used to complete additional analyses, published periodically. Upcoming reports in the series will explore more detailed aspects of transit accessibility to jobs, including accessibility of jobs of different wage levels and a comparison with accessibility by car.

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