Mash of Links

They made their own clothes and built their own tools and worked on tiny farms. Lots of economic activity has moved from the home to the stock market since 1812. Via MR.

Next, I quote Yglesias, whose blog I’m really enjoying:

One of the most pernicious misunderstandings out there is that the prosperity of the United States in the postwar years indicates that there’s some meaningful alternative strategy for economic growth that doesn’t involve increased education and human capital. This idea is driven by the sense that back in the proverbial day there were great middle-class job opportunities out there for people who hadn’t gone to college, and so maybe what we really need to do is bring that kind of economy back…

America was far and away the best-educated country in the world during the postwar years

Great graph at the link.

My other favorite new blog is Science-Based Medicine. Here’s an excellent fact-filled rant:

It has been a stunning triumph of marketing and propaganda that many people believe that treatments that are ¡§natural¡¨ are somehow magically safe and effective (an error in logic known as the naturalistic fallacy). There is now widespread belief that herbal remedies are not drugs or chemicals because they are natural.

The other major fallacy spread by the ¡§natural remedy¡¨ industry is that if a product has been used for a long time (hundreds or thousands of years), then it must also be safe and effective because it has stood the test of time (this fallacy is referred to as the argument from antiquity)…

This first came to world-wide attention in the 1990s when a group of Belgian women who were taking Chinese herbs as part of a weight loss regimen developed end-stage kidney failure. The syndrome became known as Chinese Herbs Nephropathy, and it was soon discovered that aristolochic acid was likely the culprit…

It is also interesting to consider how aristolochia came to be used to aid in the birthing process – one of its most popular uses and the source of its name, which means “noble birth” in Greek. As with the traditional use of many herbs, it appears to be based entirely on sympathetic magic – the belief that a plant will be useful for an indication based upon what the plant looks like. In this case the flower of many aristolochia species looks like a birthing womb. The rest is anecdote, placebo effect, and confirmation bias – but no science.

Lest we get too self-congratulatory, scientific medicine isn’t always so scientific either.

Cringely on Best Buy, a company doomed to die:

Shopping at Best Buy last Christmas was a joke. Best Buy corporate was upset people were using their smart phones to do price comparisons in the stores. Think about that: Best Buy was upset that their customers were too smart, that they actually used the sort of technology Best Buy purported to sell. Worst of all, Best Buy completely missed the simple point that their prices were too high.

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