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Causal Friday: Some Reading Material For The New Year…

January 16th, 2015 · No Comments
Causal Friday

One of my undergraduate professors has a new book. It looks like this:

And he looks like this:

I point this out mainly because yes, he also sounds just like Ben Stein. Anyway, the book is about the creative tactics that social scientists use to identify cause and effect. From the Technology Review:

If you want to produce good quantitative social-science research, remember two words: ceteris paribus.

That’s Latin for “all other things being equal.” And it’s a key research principle: if you take two groups of people that are different in one key feature but equal in other ways, you may be able to identify the effects of that difference.

“People are constantly looking at the world around them and trying to learn from it, and that’s natural,” says economics professor Joshua Angrist. “But it turns out to be very difficult, because the world’s a complicated place, and many things are going on.”

Fun fact: I’m still not sure what the proper way to pronounce ceteris paribus is, so that day of econ 101 is always pretty awkward. If this sort of things is up your alley, you should also check out Angrist and Pischke’s earlier, more technical book on a similar topic.

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