Tim Worstall

Amazingly, they intend to make peer review worse

No, really:

But academics have privately expressed alarm at the potential for slipping standards, where journals value citation diversity quotas above the quality of ideas.

Meanwhile, guidelines for the 45-year-old Review of International Studies, published by Cambridge University Press, urge “paying particular attention to the representativeness of citational practices manifested in all article submissions”.

“Recent studies have highlighted the possible under-representation of female and minority scholars in article citations,” authors are advised.

“Review of International Studies is committed to ensuring that scholars receive appropriate intellectual acknowledgement through citations, regardless of race, gender, class, professional standing, or other categorical attributes.”

This is rather a long way from the intended purpose, which is to check that “Hmm, interesting idea, can;t see anything wrong with it”.

Wonder if a paper on Goodhart’s Law – once something has become a target it’s no good as a measure any more – would get into print?

Just think how terrible the place would become


French should be instated as the sole working language of the European Union instead of English because of Brexit, according to a plot prepared by almost 40 French MPs.

French was once the dominant language in the corridors of power in Brussels but English is now effectively the lingua franca.

That shift was accelerated by the accession of Eastern European countries to the bloc in 2004 and entrenched by the fact that many people speak English as a second language.

Only folks who speak French would be able to work there. That’s going to increase the talent pool they can draw from, isn’t it?

Let’s see if I’ve got Amanduh’s complaint right here

This week, as well, Reuters published a disturbing report exposing how One America News, which can aptly be described as an authoritarian propaganda channel supporting Trump’s demands to be installed illegally as president, is being bankrolled by the communications giant AT&T.

OAN’s founder, Robert Herring Sr., not only claims that OAN was started at the request of AT&T executives but that court records show “AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue.” AT&T defends this by saying they offer “many news channels that offer viewpoints across the political spectrum,” but of course, OAN is not “news,” because they heavily supported false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. OAN is profiting handsomely from Trump’s insurrection, as the “network’s online audience soared in November after conservative mainstay and OAN competitor Fox News affirmed Joe Biden’s victory.”

A cable channel, running on a cable system, makes money from being a cable channel running on a cable system.

This is funding, is it? And doesn’t count as just being a cable channel because Amanduh disagrees with it?

Not so much actually

From a review of a book about climate change:

The biggest value of Stott’s account is in giving the lie to the denialists’ accusation that climate scientists are (for reasons they never make clear) conjuring alarmist narratives from error-prone computer models and shoddy data.

That at least some folks are using shoddy data is easy enough to prove.

Just read through the usual run of papers insisting that climate change will cause this, create that, rains of blood, dogs lying down with cats.

In near all such papers they say “using a business as normal” estimate of emissions. Which, with some checking, we’ll find out means RCP 8.5. Which is an emission path that is not a continuation of what is happening. Not in the slightest – in fact, of the four major models it’s the only one that we’re, damn near, absolutely certain *won’t* happen.

But you know, evidence and religion….

Umm, yes?

Trump’s lies!

According to the House committee: “On his federally mandated financial disclosures, President Trump reported that the Trump Hotel earned him over $150m in revenue during his time in office.

“However, the records obtained by the committee show that the Trump Hotel actually incurred net losses of over $70m, leading the former president’s holding company to inject at least $24m to aid the struggling hotel.

“By filing these misleading public disclosures, President Trump grossly exaggerated the financial health of the Trump Hotel. He also appears to have concealed potential conflicts of interest stemming not just from his ownership of this failing business but also from his roles as the hotel’s lender and the guarantor of its third-party loans.”

Profits from a business are different from revenues from a business. Umm, yes?

It might not be necessary to be fiscally ignorant to be a Democrat but apparently it does help.

A fun thought about crypto

So, it has long been said – not least by me – that crypto is enabling folks to repeat and reiterate every monetary scam humans have come up with over the millennia at warp speed.

Hmm, so why not dig into those scams, find one that hasn’t been perpetrated yet, then launch a coin?

For example, I doubt anyone has done Polly Peck with a stablecoin yet but it would be entirely possible and most profitable. It would also be legal.

Interesting economics

While savings accounts and CD yields are at historic lows, inflation this year is expected to increase at the fastest pace since 1991, eroding consumers’ purchasing power and reducing the value of their dollars. Normally, high inflation leads to higher interest rates that translate to higher rates on savings accounts as banks seek out deposits.

Umm, why would higher inflation increase bank demand for deposits?


If I thought it would work I’d buy one like a shot:

The dilemma of the dancing grannies has prompted some to seek out tech solutions. One went viral online this week: a remote stun gun-style device that claims to be able to disable a speaker from 50 metres away.

Reviews of the item were positive. “Downstairs is finally quiet. For two days the grannies thought their speaker is not working!”, said one on Taobao, China’s version of eBay.

“Great invention, with this tool I will be the boss in the neighbourhood now,” said another. “This is not just a regular product, it is social justice!”

Can’t see how it could work. As in that old sci fi story (where the batteries explode) the energy requirement for cancelling noise over a wide area is pretty big.

Is Ben Marlow normally this ignorant?

The elephant in the room is how customer deposits are used to fund day-to-day operations. It wasn’t just that the major carriers didn’t want to provide refunds, it is that they would have struggled to return the cash because much of it had already been spent. Some even admitted that a flood of payouts risked tipping them over the edge.

There’s no denying that the pandemic sent the airline industry into a tailspin but it’s not for consumers to prop up struggling businesses.

Imagine the uproar if a high street bank had refused customers access to their savings during the financial crisis. It might happen in failed socialist regimes or dictatorships but even then people would take to the streets. Besides, you can’t plead for special treatment if you’re not prepared to do the right thing by customers.

Because that’s exactly how banks always operate. Your money isn’t there in the vault for you to collect it. It’s in Mrs. Miggin’s, down the road, mortgage.

Which is why we have central bank support for fractional reserve banks, see?

It won’t be fun finding this out

But it will be interesting:

Flu deaths could hit 60,000 in worst winter for 50 years, say experts
More than 35m people will be offered jabs after health chiefs warn that lockdowns and social distancing have led to a drop in immunity

OK, so we’ve all got less immunity as a result of isolation.

But it’s also true that vast numbers of those likely to be carried off by a respiratory infection have been. So we’re short on people vulnerable.

What the nett effect is going to be, well…..


The over-riding impression of the Tories this week is that they are all about messaging. There is no delivery. There is no grand plan. There will likely be no change. That they don’t want any is implicit in their name. So, all they actually do now is create and deliver slogans. Their belief is that so long as those slogans continue to roll and are more memorable – however vacuous they are – than anything Labour has to say then they can and will win the next general election. There is nothing to market. The marketing is it. And nothing is sacred, former Tory governments included.

This from the man who spends his time – as he insists himself – creating narratives.

The elephant trap works!

The first is that there is remarkably little tax evasion going on. Nor, come to that is there that much tax avoidance

Because there are no elephants in the kitchen.

Of course, the more rational explanation is that there never was much tax evasion nor avoidance going on. Making all that “work” irrelevant to the amount of it.

We’re being lectured by Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge, are we?


There’s a “for sale” sign hanging over Britain. The Pandora papers have exposed how secrecy, influence, property and other assets are freely available to the highest bidder. Huge data dumps like this provide an invaluable peek into the secret world of offshore finance and the way it is exploited by the world’s richest people. Yet again, the UK and its tax havens stand at the heart of the world’s tax avoidance and dirty money crises. Britain asks few questions, doesn’t care who you are, and doesn’t mind where your money comes from.

We now know that 35 current or former heads of state have exploited secrecy to avoid paying fair taxes, to hide their wealth from the population, or to launder money they have stolen from their own people into Britain and elsewhere. We’ve also learned that the Conservative party has received millions of pounds in donations from oligarchs in foreign jurisdictions, who used their wealth to gain access to and influence over our government leaders here in Britain.

Hmm, that’s the Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge, connected with Stemcor is it? That one? The Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge, who is the only publicly known and named user of the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility over a family trust or summat?


All of her actions are and were entirely and wholly legal in every jurisdiction. But then so are most to near all of those in the Pandora Papers.

Jeez, you’d think the Paddies could build, wouldn’t you?

Bit of a blow:

Homeowners in Ireland hit by a devastating building defect that causes walls to “crumble like Weetabix” are set to reject a government compensation scheme unless it offers to cover 100% of their costs.

Campaigners say the prospect of dream homes being demolished is causing people to kill themselves and families to break up, and that thousands of people could be left homeless in rural Ireland.

They plan to protest in Dublin on Friday to put pressure on the government, which could end up footing a bill for an estimated €3.2bn (£2.7bn), according to a report in the Irish Times.

The folks who made the concrete blocks used material with too much mica in it. It’s all therefore crumbling away.

Still, folks are trying it on. They want full compensation for the value of their house. Which ain’t what they should get, at all. Instead, compensation to rebuild. This is different – the first number includes the value of the land and planning permission, the second just the house. As it’s just the house affected then that’s what they should get paid.

Not really and not wholly, no

Mr Johnson claimed that Pareto improvements are the underlying economic thinking behind levelling up and closing the huge regional gaps in Britain. Pareto’s insight was that it is possible to redistribute assets in a way that makes some people better off without anybody else losing out. It suggests that the Government should be able to share out resources more effectively across the country and create no losers – only winners. Reaching this point is known as Pareto optimality.

The Prime Minister said: “If you insist on the economic theory behind levelling up, it is contained in the insight of Vilfredo Pareto, a 19th century Italian figure who floated from the cobwebbed attic of my memories.”

The usual use of the insight is the other way around.

If you find something that makes some people better off without making anyone worse off then you should do it. For such a Pareto improvement increases human welfare, obviously enough.

The thing is, there’s no particular insistence that such things or policies exist. Rather, it’s that if they do then they’re good things to do. It’s also not particular to assets or to government handing them out. Imagine that we had a bureaucracy that existed only to shuffle paper, nothing useful was done by it. The cost is that time that everyone has to spend shuffling paper to feed the bureaucracy. Abolish the bureaucracy and paper shuffling declines and nothing else does. A Pareto improvement.


So, incinerate the plastic bottles then

Clothing made from recycled bottles is actually creating more plastic waste, a pollution charity has found, as it labelled the practice “greenwashing”.

Polyester and other materials created from plastic bottles cannot be recycled and are ending up in landfill at the end of their life, campaigners City to Sea said.

Conversely, plastic bottles are some of the easiest items to recycle, and the material can be turned into new products several times.

“This process sets the plastic on a one-way path to incineration by turning a recyclable product into an unrecyclable one,” said Steve Hynd, the policy manager at City to Sea.

Just burn the stuff for the energy content after one use, seems simple enough. After all, the usual conclusion these days is we’ve too much oil because climate change.

Glad we’ve got that sorted out then

Labour has a choice to make. It can say it will balance the books or it can deliver political change. But it can’t do both.

The only way we can have political change is by spending money we don’t have. Further, all the money that is currently spent is done so with 100% efficiency.

That is interesting, isn’t it? We’re already in the best of all possible worlds.

It’s not actually all that difficult

Forstater may or may not succeed in her discrimination case against her employer. She is far from the only person to hold “gender critical” beliefs: if the Tribunal concludes that her employer was right to dismiss her, then other people might feel unable to express their beliefs for fear of losing their jobs. In my view such censorship is unacceptable in a free society. In the interests of free speech, therefore, I support Forstater’s case – though my support is not uncondititional, as I shall explain later.

But that does not mean I endorse her beliefs or her behaviour. Forstater and her supporters aggressively promote their beliefs on Twitter, hijacking threads to grandstand their agenda, forcing their opinions on people who have not invited them, misrepresenting what people have said then gaslighting them when they object, using emotionally-loaded language to short-circuit rational argument, resorting to ad hominem attacks and appeals to authority, insulting people who disagree with them, sealioning people who try to disengage. In short, behaving just like all the other cults that infest this increasingly toxic space. The effect of their behaviour is to prevent rational debate and silence dissenters.

That is free speech. Live with it.

For there’s nothing at all about the concept that states it has to be interesting or mannerly.