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25 thoughts on “Steven J. Dubner: “When to Rob a Bank” | Talks at Google

  1. I live in Prague. In English we have names like William, the nickname could be Will or Billy. Richard is Rich or Dick. Same in Czech: Jan is Honza, it comes from German which is Hans. Jaroslav they shorten to Jarda. And everyone knows this. BUT, in Czech, if your name is Josef they will call you Pepa. I asked every Pepa I met why they were called Pepa. Nobody had an answer. They just knew that that's the way it is. One night I was in a bar. Met some Spanish guys. The one introduced himself to me as Pepe. Then his friend called him Jose. Jose in Czech is Josef. I found a connection. I looked it up and it turns out that in Spanish, Jose, or Joseph is the Putative Father of Jesus. In Spanish this is "Padre Putativo" or in abbreviation form PP. This is pronounced Pepe in Spanish. Of course Bohemia was part of the Austro Hungarian Empire which was allied with the Spanish for a long time and that is where it comes from.

  2. I think the prima facie arguments that degrees are mostly about signaling rather than gaining and retaining useful content (brought up by Bryan Caplan in his book and many talks) are so strong and so obvious to all of us that they establish a really high prior:

    – Almost no universities, even the very best, screen students for classes. You can go anywhere, get into the room, sit down, learn a whole bunch of stuff from eminent professors for free, and no one will stop you. Only some labs are different, but it's for an entirely different reason (safety, theft of chemicals).
    – Even the professors usually won't try to stop you from getting free learning. Sincere auditors usually impress professors greatly.
    – Students are almost always happy when a class period is cancelled. They almost never feel that they're being ripped off for not getting all the information they paid for.
    – "Will this be on the test?": most frequent question, bar none. "Will we use this often in our future careers?": Hahahahahaha, please let me know if you've heard it even once.

  3. When to rob a bank. A common response from my 8th graders to, 'What kind of work do you want to do when you grow up? 'was I want to be a big gangster, steal all the money. We'd discuss it a bit. Clearly being a robber was widely understood by these particular students to be a bad risk. Almost all of them knew convicted criminals.

    I'd then say, well I've known some successful criminals. "Successful, like a lot of money?" "Yep." "But they got caught." "Nope." Then I'd offer to tell them how to do it. After the scoffing died down, I'd say, "Learn bookkeeping, then get a job as a bookkeeper in a business and then start stealing money." When I'd finally convinced most of them that indeed I knew bookkeepers and accountants who'd stolen money and got away with it, the obvious question was, "Why are you telling us this?"

    "Well, I think I know you guys well enough that if you did learn how to be a bookkeeper and got a job doing it, you'd see that it was a really good job, paid well, taught you how to run a business– the last thing you'd want to do is screw it up by stealing."

    I once mentioned to a friend that I thought maybe 10 percent of the people in Beverly Hills were crooks who'd committed fraud, not cheat on your taxes, but like steal homes from people kind of evil fraud." She said, "You're wrong. I grew up in Beverly Hills. It's at least a third."

    Merit based pay in teaching. As a former teacher. I noticed in the details of the standardized test results for my school that four really bad students low scores from another teacher had been added to my list of students, and my four best students had been added to his list. Besides being corrupt, it was stupid, as statistically it didn't change the overall average of our two groups of students. Standardized tests have a cycle of being used for a few years, but when they stop improving, school districts shift to another test, usually easier. The two tests cannot be compared, but they try. Michelle Rhee tried doing this in the Washington DC school district but was called out. When I was teaching if you said for a ten percent pay cut, you no longer have to attend the weekly 3 hour (pointless) meeting, but can spend that time supervising and helping students reading and working– and you can kick out any student you want for any reason you want. I'd jump at it. Spending three hours a week listening to total nonsense is depressing and debilitation.

    The trend now is to extremely vague but broad standards which are impossible to evaluate. I have a fairly advanced understanding and ability in science. The first sample questions for the New Critical Thinking curriculum I couldn't even figure out the question. I don't think anyone else could either….but no one wanted to admit it. They quickly moved to Next Generation Science Standards which sounds great but is an over complicated bunch of nonsense. Hands on critical thinking science? That's my bread and butter, none of the 'education stuff' that purports to do this gets anywhere near it. The merit based 'pay' should be with students. You will read at this standard by this grade…. If you need help, there are these tutoring opportunities…. (One principal kept going on and on about this amazing school district in Connecticut, I Googled it. When I told him that students who were failing were immediately tutored by everyone available, especially administrators– he never mentioned it again. It also had a student to teacher ratio half of what we had.)

  4. The ROI on a college diploma is primarily related to the intake selection process of said University. To get into a top tier school you need a high IQ along with other basic skills. As such employeers let the universities screen their employees for them. The ROI on getting a University degree from a school without name recognition or a competitive intake process is as such much lower or possibly negative.

  5. These boys survived the hood by sucking donkey dong …. now they just do it for fun . Humans are thermally adaptive mammals shit head

  6. A problem with relegation in business is it tosses out those who focus on group success and selects for those who steal credit and sabotage the work of others. It eliminates motivation for real teamwork.

  7. In America, more extreme ideological divided sects, many things any politicians would propose are strongly opposed by large factions, based on their world view.

    Some disapprove of ANY spending on anything, except perhaps military.

    Some want to fix urban infrastructure, some oppose that.

    Some want free college, some insist college is over-rated or pushing excessive social "science" and abstract social theories that may breed more social dysfunction.

    Some want to fix healthcare, others insist ANY degree of govt intervention in health care "markets" is objectionable and likely to be worse or disastrous. (Despite points that I say should show it's obvious that nothing like competitive free consumer-led markets exists in health care .. nor is it likely that such markets could exist, and when such "market based" solutions are proposed, big business opposes freewheeling competition.

    OR people jealously insist any social help will result in "giveaways" that help the wrong bad people succeed and gain power over them .. unequal benefits .. gifts for lack of productive efforts.

    Neoliberal ideologues sometimes fix the details in sneaky ways that sabotages public programs, to increase distrust in govt-guided solutions.

    The "Social Security is broke" is one of those blatant falsehoods, from multiple perspectives, but experts say it and people believe it.

    Nevermind that ALL such programs inevitably help many capitalists (and the entire society), who inevitably gain more profits, indirectly if not direct recipients.

  8. Police officers take advantage of sex workers, and that wouldn't be obvious without data 🤔
    Welcome to the desert of the real
    I found the whole bit about politicians very naive too, as if they work for the salary

  9. I see this with Hispanics & Asians, the kids with Anglo names come from smarter parents who are more ambitious for their children's success. Just giving your child a weird name won't ruin their life, but it hints that your family life is not well, you are not cognizant of US reality, how others see your ethnic group, how USA works, how to move into middle class, etc.

  10. Funny and charming in guy. Very interesting talk. Having said that I don't want him anywhere near policy making. Though I'd choose him and people like him over actual elected representatives every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Keep pumping out the books!! Getting people to think about problems in structured, evidenced based manners is of great value to us all.

  11. I used to help my grandma collect eggs for sale, and also butcher chickens. a lady in town used chicken feet for soup. My sister and I would trade them for cookies. We thought it was a good deal.

  12. so he mentioned god yet superior in knowledge ? jesus is the 11 th mythical god in history to be born of a virgin and resurrected!
    have you examined this???

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