Morning Report – We have a deal 10/17/13

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1709.5 -3.7 -0.22%
Eurostoxx Index 2998.6 -16.8 -0.56%
Oil (WTI) 101.7 -0.6 -0.59%
LIBOR 0.242 -0.004 -1.63%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.83 -0.637 -0.79%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.75% -0.05%
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 105.7 0.2
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 104.9 0.3
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 200.7 -0.2
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.31

Buy the rumor, sell the fact. Markets are down small after the government came up with a deal to keep the lights on. Lousy earnings from Goldman aren’t helping things. Bonds are rallying as the Fed is probably on hold for a while.

So the shutdown is over. Democrats won a few month reprieve before we go through this whole process once again. Republicans won a minor concession that the government will try and prevent fraud with obamacare subsidies. We’ll see if this is where the Tea Party finally jumped the shark. I suspect it is.

If you want a deeper dive into this, I discussed this along with a whole host of other issues on Louis Amaya’s Mortgage Markets Today show yesterday. You can hear it here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/capitalmarketstoday/2013/10/16/debt-ceiling-explanation-and-implications

Initial Jobless Claims came in at 358k, a drop of 16k, but higher than expectations. It appears California is still working through its computer issues.

It is looking like tomorrow will be the day when we will get all the of the economic reports that have piled up since the shutdown. The biggest of course will be the employment report we were supposed to get two weeks ago. We will also get industrial production, consumer and producer prices, retail sales, inventories, housing starts, amongst other reports. So tomorrow could be market moving in a big way.

Fannie Mae priced a $675 million risk-sharing deal yesterday, the first of its kind. Investors will share in the guarantee fee and will bear some of the credit risk of the underlying mortgages. Given the underlying bonds were all very recent vintages, with very tight underwriting, investors were aggressive in bidding the paper. The senior tranches went for L+200. The mezz tranches went at L+525. This is part of a deal to wean Fannie Mae off the government and to “crowd in” private capital into the mortgage markets.

The Fed released its Beige Book report yesterday. Pithy punch line: Moderately modest.

108 Responses

  1. Brent, what’s your take on this whole thing happening again in either January or February?

    My gut feeling is that we will, but that’s mainly because I have a very low opinion of the House Tea Party members. I’ve seen commentary that suggests that this fight will give John Boehner some leverage over them to avoid pushing it to the brink again.

    Like

  2. Say what you will about those of us on the right, I have yet to see any one of us try to explain away Mussolini as not an example of “true fascism”, which wasn’t really discredited because it was never tried.

    Like

  3. Michi, I’m not Brent, but my take is the same as McCain’s. A small deal (no grand bargain) that trades minimal entitlement reforms for sequester changes with no new revenues and enough of a debt ceiling hike to get through the 2014 mid-terms.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/mccain-no-shutdown-again-i-guarantee-it

    Like

  4. “Brent, what’s your take on this whole thing happening again in either January or February?
    My gut feeling is that we will, but that’s mainly because I have a very low opinion of the House Tea Party members. ”

    We could.. We will see if obama pulls his “I get a clean debt ceiling increase just because” act again…

    Plus, if obamacare turns out to be the disaster everyone on the right predicted it will, the TP may have some leverage. Our company’s health care costs are going up 20%. That’s my raise / bonus. I can’t be the only one.

    Lets see how obama looks politically in a few months when everyone realizes that his “if you like your health insurance you can keep it, and your costs will go down” line was a bold-faced “by any means necessary” lie in order to give government control over 18% of the economy.

    Like

    • Brent:

      Lets see how obama looks politically in a few months when everyone realizes that his “if you like your health insurance you can keep it, and your costs will go down” line was a bold-faced “by any means necessary” lie in order to give government control over 18% of the economy.

      Unfortunately I think hard experience shows that a substantial number of people are unwilling to accept that Obamacare was sold on the basis of bold-faced lies. There has always been quite a lot of magical/wishful thinking among Obama/Obamacare supporters, and I don’t see that changing. They are, I suspect, more likely to blame “Tea Party Republicans” for Obamacare’s deficiencies than they are to blame Obama himself.

      Like

  5. “when everyone realizes”

    But it won’t be everyone, Just those who are stuck with the bill who didn’t vote for him anyway.

    Like

  6. ““when everyone realizes”
    But it won’t be everyone, Just those who are stuck with the bill who didn’t vote for him anyway.”

    I hope you’re wrong, but sadly I think you are right. Must be nice to be able to generous with other people’s money…

    Like

  7. Thanks, jnc and Brent. Both of those make sense. . .

    Obamacare, for me at any rate, is going to cut my premium around 15% from what I’m paying now. And that is an apples-to-apples comparison, since I’ve self-insured both in Utah and now here; when I moved here my rate went up about 5% for some reason (maybe accident rates, since my car insurance also went up) but it’s coming down on the exchange.

    Sounds to me like your company is screwing you, not Obamacare, Brent.

    Like

  8. I see you’re fighting the good fight on PL, jnc.

    Like

  9. “Sounds to me like your company is screwing you, not Obamacare, Brent.”

    That’s wrong. Absent the PPACA, those changes most likely wouldn’t have occurred.

    Redistribution within the existing system to cover the uninsured is the core mechanic of the PPACA.

    Brent, if there’s a reaction, it will be when the deficit blows up, but I suspect that won’t occur until after 2016, by design.

    Like

  10. I think I’m about done Michi. I’ll debate most anyone, but when every example isn’t debated but simply disregarded because it doesn’t count, it’s not even an intellectual exercise anymore, but rather like arguing with a wall.

    Like

  11. “They are, I suspect, more likely to blame “Tea Party Republicans” for Obamacare’s deficiencies than they are to blame Obama himself.”

    Isn’t that Sargent’s view? That the Tea Party Republicans are “sabotaging” obamacare?

    They probably think the problem with the website is that Koch launched a DOS attack on it.

    Like

  12. There’s always another day, jnc!

    Redistribution within the existing system to cover the uninsured is the core mechanic of the PPACA.

    Understood. But my rate is still going down, and I’m insured now. I’m sure my policy isn’t as comprehensive as Brent’s (heck, it’s not nearly as comprehensive as the one I had at the UU), but it’s the exact same coverage now and on 1/1/14.

    I’m hoping that some sort of sanity returns to Congress between now and 2016 and somebody says “we need to look at the numbers again and do some budgeting or this thing is going to blow up in our faces,” but I’m not holding my breath on that.

    Like

  13. That’s fine. The PPACA has winners and losers.

    Congrats! You are a winner

    Brent however is a loser.

    Like

    • jnc:

      The PPACA has winners and losers.

      I think we should call them the subsidized and the subsidizers. Or takers and givers.

      Like

  14. Isn’t that Sargent’s view? That the Tea Party Republicans are “sabotaging” obamacare?

    I haven’t seen that, but I haven’t been looking for it. I get the impression that his view is that it’s silly and a waste of time to keep having the various repeal/defund votes in the House.

    They probably think the problem with the website is that Koch launched a DOS attack on it.

    No, everybody is pretty much in agreement that the administration royally botched that one, and thank you very much, House GOP, for the last two weeks’ brouhaha that kept that fact off the front page.

    Like

  15. FWIW, this guy is an insurance broker who was using the healthcare.gov site to compare plans in NJ so that he would know what the ACA was going to do:

    visionbrkrwasbannedtoo
    11:57 AM EDT

    elkii,

    nope. And in actuality it probably does cover a little more I would guess but again that’s just a guess as I can’t see a full summary of benefits.

    But the point to me is that we’re sold a bill of goods that its going to do this and do that and it won’t do anything close to what we expect.

    As I’ve said before on there I think so many people think they’re going to get subsidies and they’re not. A family where each spouse in NJ makes around $50k is not rich in almost any sense of the word and yet they won’t see a subsidy at all.

    If you’re on Medicaid and the working poor in NJ (and I’m sure other states) then yes it will certainly benefit you but you will also see some serious class warfare between the working poor and the middle class.

    Not to mention that people still can’t afford to pay a $6000 deductible with a $12000 maximum out of pocket cost.

    the ONLY ones its more affordable for are the ones that are the working poor and those on Medicaid (definitely some overlap there). The middle class in many states will see bubkes.

    I think many more people will expect to be helped by PPACA. Personally the architects of PPACA I think exaggerated too much what it can and would do for everyone and they’ll see it eventually come around in poll number when the subsidies don’t reach the people and they’re expecting them.

    So your summation is pretty spot-on jnc. I didn’t apply for a subsidy, since even though my income right now has got to be well below the poverty level, I expect that within six months it’s going to be well above, so I’m still a winner. 🙂

    Brent, next time you come down to the DC area I’ll buy you a beer.


    Edit: I should have mentioned that this is a comment off of Wonkbook this morning

    Like

  16. JNC, Michi … I was in a meeting and It occurred to me.

    King Arthur: Then who is your lord?
    Woman: We don’t have a lord.
    Dennis: I told you, we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for the week…
    King Arthur: Yes…
    Dennis: …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…
    King Arthur: Yes I see…
    Dennis: …by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…
    King Arthur: Be quiet!
    Dennis: …but by a two thirds majority in the case of…
    King Arthur: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
    Woman: Order, eh? Who does he think he is?

    Like

  17. “for the last two weeks’ brouhaha that kept that fact off the front page.”

    true. but you can’t hide it. it’s too big. people know.

    Like

  18. Did you successfully enroll through the exchanges? We got one!

    I wonder if its because you didn’t try for a subsidy that it worked.

    Like

  19. Yeah, tomorrow there will be stories galore on how Obama fucked up his core legislative legacy.

    How is it possible to believe that?

    Like

    • McWing:

      How is it possible to believe that?

      The NYT had a story today about the exchange problems….on page A18. But no doubt it would have been front page news if it wasn’t for those damn Tea Partiers.

      “It’s just this war and that lying son of a bitch Johnson…”

      Like

  20. We got one!

    Yep. But Maryland has a state site, so that may have made a difference. Also, since the first policy I looked at (mine) and saw it was cheaper I didn’t go any farther, so I don’t know how easy it is to compare policies on the site.

    I think we should call them the subsidized and the subsidizers. Or takers and givers.

    That’s me–bleeding heart Pinko liberal moocher.

    Like

  21. Brent, next time you come down to the DC area I’ll buy you a beer.

    Thanks, Michi

    Like

  22. As a general question then, who should have to pay more for healthcare and why, and who should pay less and why?

    Like

    • McWing:

      As a general question then, who should have to pay more for healthcare and why, and who should pay less and why?

      Sick people should pay more because they are sick and therefore need more of it, while healthy people should pay less, because they are healthy and therefore need less of it. I understand how utterly insane and counter intuitive that probably sounds, but hey, just trying to think outside the box.

      Like

  23. I understand how utterly insane and counter intuitive that probably sounds, but hey, just trying to think outside the box.

    You certainly have a dim view of liberals. That’s exactly what I would expect, and why my policy is (relatively) cheap. If I was younger and in the same health I’m in now I’d expect to pay even less.

    Sometimes, Scott, liberals are not really out to steal you blind.

    Like

    • Mich:

      That’s exactly what I would expect, and why my policy is (relatively) cheap.

      Insurance costs and health care costs are two different things. In fact one of the primary problems with the system in our country is that those two different things are too often conflated.

      And of course Obamacare actually acts to subvert what you claim you would expect. Under Obamacare, what someone pays for “insurance” will have even less to do with one’s actual health than ever before. Support for Obamacare and a belief that what one pays for health care (“insurance”) should be strictly a function of one’s health are not logically compatible.

      If I was younger and in the same health I’m in now I’d expect to pay even less.

      The economics of Obamacare depend on exactly the opposite…ie it depends on the cost to young, healthy people going up in order to subsidize unhealthy, old people.

      Like

  24. The NYT had a story today about the exchange problems….on page A18. But no doubt it would have been front page news if it wasn’t for those damn Tea Partiers.

    Let’s be real. The day the government goes back into business after a 16-day shut down and you expect that the front page news is not going to be about that?

    Like

    • Mich:

      The day the government goes back into business after a 16-day shut down and you expect that the front page news is not going to be about that?

      In addition to 3 stories about the budget crisis, The front page of the NYT today included the following headlined stories:

      Scattered by War, Syrians Struggle to Start Over
      Victorious in Rocky Senate Bid, Booker Gets Job to Fit His Profile
      Facebook Eases Privacy Rules for Facebook

      In the top story blurbs for the rest of the paper at the bottom of the front page, under “National” news there was also the headline “A Legal Shift on Wiretaps” with a page reference.

      But I am sure you are right. If not for those damn Tea Partiers, the front page would be all over the Obamacare debacle.

      Like

  25. “That’s me–bleeding heart Pinko liberal moocher.”

    That’s your mild mannered cover story by day. But by night you don your cape and boots and become the LIBERTARIAN AVENGER! Scourge of PL communists (sorry, Real Democrats).

    Like

  26. Anybody else wanna weigh in on the who should pay more / who should pay less question?

    Like

  27. I think risk-based and medical underwriting premiums are fine. “You are pre-disposed to XYZ and we expect it to cost more, so we’re charging moe

    Like

    • nova:

      I think risk-based and medical underwriting premiums are fine.

      That is how insurance costs should be allocated. Not how health care costs should be allocated. When a woman decides to have a baby, that is not an insurable event. The costs associated with that choice should be allocated to the person who incurred them, not to an insurance pool.

      Like

  28. ha. typo. but that’s what we should do. charge Moe.

    Like

  29. As Tea Party, extremist, hostage taking anarchist I find this to be good news.

    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE99E0VS20131015?irpc=932

    Keep the implement or of this disaster in charge.

    Why shouldn’t Sebilius keep her job? Seriously? I want this to fail abysmally and who could argue that she isn’t the beet person to make sure that happens?

    Like

  30. I also think that absent various mandates, you could market and sell a plan that people would want to buy.

    Like

    • nova:

      I also think that absent various mandates, you could market and sell a plan that people would want to buy.

      This is undoubtedly true.

      Like

  31. jnc:

    Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

    Like

  32. yeah, so i’m done at PL. JNC. sorry man. you’re on your own.

    Like

    • nova:

      yeah, so i’m done at PL.

      Welcome to ATiM full time, my man. You, me and McWing, holding down the fort until the rest get tired of slumming it.

      Like

  33. Personalizing arguments at PL is always a mistake.

    Like

  34. It’s my fault. I should know better. —

    edit — but the dismissiveness of the raw violence behind such a system just really bothers me.

    Like

  35. Totally OT, but what ever happened to the vet you were helping out pro bono?

    Like

  36. He fired us. It’s really a shame. The guy has some mental health problems. but we couldn’t get through to him that if he wanted the VA and/or DOD to address his problems, he had to demonstrate he was in need of help. but he just wanted them to admit error and then start treating him.

    i wanted to drop a private bill to get his discharge changed and get him VA benefits, but he wouldn’t go for it. it was “they will admit their error and apologize.”

    Like

  37. You, me and McWing, holding down the fort until the rest get tired of slumming it.

    3

    Like

  38. now we get to pick which amigo we each are.

    Like

  39. “but the dismissiveness of the raw violence behind such a system just really bothers me. ”

    I have a thicker skin, and It’s enjoyable to see someone with even more unrealistic goals than we have as libertarians.

    Plus she’s the best spokesperson capitalists could ever dream of. If I could, I’d give her hours and hours of air time to expand on her arguments with the right prodding.

    Like

  40. It’s really not that big of a deal . . I was flippant and she countered that despite my tax burden, which I should not have disclosed, that i was a net drain on society.

    it devolved a bit from there.

    but I engaged the crazy, so the fault is mine.

    [fixed typos]

    Like

    • OK, NoVA.

      Do y’all realize we are set on Mountain Time here because of Kelley? And that she is now in Bawlmer, MD?

      So now we have set our time to a Zone in which no correspondent resides.

      Like

      • I think everyone but you is on Eastern Time. Shall I change it?

        Like

        • I think everyone but you is on Eastern Time. Shall I change it?
          OK w/ me but ask George.

          Like

        • mark:

          OK w/ me but ask George.

          I changed it to central time for you and McWing. Although I am on the east coast, I sort of agree with McWing that central is “normal”. Certainly it is more civilized to have MNF end before 11pm. Plus Texas is a better state than almost any on the east coast, except maybe Virginia. Maybe.

          Like

  41. Id take C Chase. Fletch was fucking awesome.

    There’s a tremendous amount of gook on these windows.

    Like

  42. I’m on Central. You know, normal time.

    Like

  43. Can I borrow a towel? My car just hit a water buffalo.

    Like

    • When I was in college we must have watched Fletch 1,000 times. I knew every line in the movie.

      Like

      • BTW, in all seriousness I think we should introduce some form of Prime Minister’s Questions here in the US. The president should have to go into a joint session of congress once a week and answer questions from reps and senators. As it stands, the president can pretty much say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, without challenge at all, and it gets broadcast to the entire nation. He can essentially frame issues in whatever dishonest, disingenuous way that suits him best politically, and can even lie through his teeth, all without ever being directly challenged by anyone. Even if we had a skeptical media that was interested in challenging the president (and, currently, we do not), he can avoid it by simply not giving interviews, or taking questions only from hand-picked, friendly reporters (as Obama did the last time he “took questions”). A question time, which they have in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, would force the president to actually defend the things he is currently free to say without any fear of ever being called out. I think it would be a very useful addition to the political dialogue here.

        Like

  44. I guess that makes me Ned Nederlander.

    Like

  45. I was 7 when that came out. I don’t think I’ve seen it.

    Like

  46. I always wanted to be Dr. Hymen-Hymen.

    Or Dr. Rosen-Hymen.

    Either one.

    Like

  47. Nothing reveals economic ignorance as much as conflating purported impacts to GDP from the shutdown with actual hard costs and spending.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2013/10/17/things_that_cost_less_than_the_shutdown.html

    Actual start up and shutdown costs are estimated to be between $2 – 4 billion.

    Like

    • jnc:

      Nothing reveals economic ignorance as much as conflating purported impacts to GDP from the shutdown with actual hard costs and spending.

      Not spending money = spending money. Again, we live in the twilight zone.

      Like

  48. from jnc’s link:

    ” 11 days worth of Social Security. ”

    oh, but that program is totally fine.

    Like

  49. Good piece by Ezra:

    “Higher taxes shouldn’t be the Democratic Party’s top priority
    By Ezra Klein, Published: October 17 at 1:41 pm

    But it [the sequester] does one thing Republicans love: It locks in $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction without a dime in new tax revenue. And they intend to hold onto that win for dear life.

    To put it plainly, Democrats aren’t going to persuade Republicans to lift sequestration in return for a mix of entitlement cuts and tax increases. It doesn’t matter that those tax increases will come in the form of ending certain tax breaks. It doesn’t matter that Paul Ryan’s budget said these tax expenditures are “similar to government spending.” It doesn’t matter that raising taxes on the rich is popular.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/17/higher-taxes-shouldnt-be-the-democratic-partys-top-priority/

    I hope that they do hold on to it for dear life.

    Like

  50. Scott, it really doesn’t matter to me about the time zone. I don’t look at them. I do agree though with your thoughts on Texas however.

    Like

  51. No way will the Ds give up higher taxes. Like Erza said, it’s religion.

    Like

    • I read somewhere that BHO said to somebody he knew that taxes were off the table in 2014. Maybe it was part of the discussion appointing still another commission that will recommend both higher revenue and lower expenditures, probably by limiting deductions, just like the previous commissions did and then it won’t happen, even if the Ds carry Congress in 2014 which they will not.

      I am practicing run-on sentences.

      Like

  52. Totally worth it!

    @philipaklein: Laszewski estimates that just 20K people enrolled via fed exchange in first two weeks, based on data from insurers http://t.co/CaZtpQzBMk

    Thanks 52%!

    Like

  53. I think you each picked the correct amigo, but, NoVA. . .

    Giving up the top hat?????

    Sorry I missed the dust up on PL; I coulda had your back. I got busy this afternoon.

    I had forgotten we were on MST because of me; does anyone remember the thinking behind that? I vaguely remember that it was a toss up between MST and CST so that it was in the “middle” of all of us.

    Like

  54. I am practicing run-on sentences.

    You get an A-. It would have been an A, but there were two sentences in that comment.

    Like

  55. Tea Partyers and their scientific literacy.

    http://minx.cc/?post=344241

    Unfortunately this confirms everything you thought you knew.

    Like

  56. Tea Partyers and their scientific literacy.

    Once I dug down to the original document (which, BTW, Ace did not) I read the entire talk that the professor gave. This was a lecture that Dr Dan Kahan gave as part of the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale, so the whole purpose of the lecture (and project) is to study the differences between cultural groups and their knowledge of various subjects. Dr Kahan happened to choose science cognition. In his talk he also compared college grads vs not, very religious vs not, and conservatives vs not. When he found a small correlation in the difference between conservative/R (less science cognition) and liberal/D (more science cognition) he decided to break the conservative group out to find out where (if anywhere) the difference lay. As it turns out, it’s the conservatives who don’t identify as TP.

    For the record, the results for the first two groups were entirely predictable:there was a strong correlation in the difference between college grads (high) vs not (less) and a modest correlation between very religious (less) and not (more).

    Are you offended by his research, the fact he had the audacity to do it, or the results, McWing? The author that Ace linked to did a nice job of cherry picking a comment out of a talk which would be red meat and ignoring the purpose behind both the research and the presentation (a lecture at a symposium, not a published paper). Personally, I’m not all that surprised at the results.

    Like

    • Kahan says that in order to measure “science comprehension”, he used 11 items from the National Science Foundation’s “Science Indicators” battery and 10 items from the Cognitive Reflection Test. It is not at all clear from the linked website what the items from the “Science Indicators” are or could be, or what they actually measure. However, the CRT website provides 3 examples of the types of questions it asks.

      A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

      If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

      In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

      I don’t see how these types of questions could be construed to be a measure of “science comprehension”. In fact the CRT itself only claims to measure the specific cognitive ability to suppress an intuitive response in favor of a reflective and deliberate response.

      Like

      • Scott, those questions make sense to me as a sorter. Seems to me inability to immediately answer correctly sorts out for failed comprehension of 8th grade Algebra I. That’s pretty basic.

        Thought of in reverse, if one never took Algebra I but had an analytical bent, a bit of reflection would lead to correct answers that probably would say: you will do well at Algebra I when you take it.

        To measure the specific cognitive ability to suppress an intuitive response in favor of a reflective and deliberate response seems a quick way to assess someone’s willingness to use the scientific method in analyzing the physical and natural world.

        I’m not suggesting this is failsafe, but it does seem a logical rough metric for a quick study of a group.

        Like

        • Mark:

          Scott, those questions make sense to me as a sorter.

          They certainly makes sense as a sorter. Just not the kind of sorter he is asserting. At least to my mind.

          To measure the specific cognitive ability to suppress an intuitive response in favor of a reflective and deliberate response seems a quick way to assess someone’s willingness to use the scientific method in analyzing the physical and natural world.

          I don’t think the measure of an ability implies anything about a willingness. And I don’t understand how a tendency to answer questions intuitively rather than reflectively says anything at all about one’s ability to comprehend science. It may suggest that one would not make a particularly good scientist, but it does not suggest to me at all that one has either an inability to comprehend science, or an unwillingness to use the scientific method.

          My ability to hit a golf ball straight is not particularly good, but that doesn’t means I don’t understand how to hit a golf ball or am unwilling to play the game.

          Like

        • I think the entry level Algebra may have been chosen because most people CAN do it. But I suspect most people don’t WANT to do it. That is how it differs from golf or basketball, which most participants want to do, but cannot, with high levels of accomplishment.

          Anyway, that is why I lean to the notion of “willingness” over “ability” for the particular examples.

          Like

        • Mark:

          I think the entry level Algebra may have been chosen because most people CAN do it.

          Of course, but the questions seem to be designed not to measure a willingness to do algebra, but rather a tendency to be satisfied with the quick, intuitive (but wrong) answer. In fact that is explicitly what the test says it was designed to measure. It seems quite a stretch to then use it as a measure of “science comprehension”.

          BTW, I am not even sure what “science comprehension” is supposed to mean. Does it mean an actual understanding of particular scientific concepts? A capacity to understand scientific concepts in general? A capacity or willingness to accept scientific results? Regardless, I remain at a loss as to how those questions would be useful indicators of any of these possibilities.

          Like

  57. The other thing that Ace did really well in order to get that quote was to use an obviously biased source. That would be like me using a quote from a post at FDL that was reporting research without checking the original source myself to get the context.

    Like

  58. I’m curious if Mr. Kahan still maintains his epistemic closure?

    But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party. All my impressions come from watching cable tv — & I don’t watch Fox News very often — and reading the “paper” (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).

    Otherwise he’ll continue to be ignant.

    Also Gell-Mann Amnesia.

    Didn’t Dr.Kahan’s presentation confirm everything *you* thought you knew?

    Like

  59. It confirmed my ideas that people who’ve been to college, in general, have had to take a lot more general science classes (even English Lit majors!) than those who haven’t, and that people who are strongly religious don’t pay as much attention to science as those who aren’t (I’m guessing that this is skewed in the US by evangelicals/fundamentalists, but that’s a guess on my part). It actually kind of surprised me that there was a measurable difference, albeit small, in conservatives vs liberals, as almost all of the conservatives that I know personally are college educated. The studies looking at religion and political leaning were two different groups, so for all I know it could be a higher rate of religiousity in conservatives that skews the political results slightly and he couldn’t do that comparison..

    And given that he’s at Yale, I’m not surprised he doesn’t know any Tea Party folks personally–if it weren’t for you and two engineers that I know from another blog I don’t think I’d know any Tea Partiers. Even though I lived in Deep Red Utah I lived in a part of town that was mainly university folks, and I worked in science research. I had some conservative colleagues, but none of them would consider themselves Tea Partiers. And now, of course, I’m living in a hotbed of Pinko-ism. So I don’t even know any TP folks in real life! I agree that epistemic closure can be problematic, but at the very end of his talk he said this:

    I’ll now be much less surprised, too, if it turns out that someone I meet at, say, the Museum of Science in Boston, or the Chabot Space and Science Museum in Oakland, or the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is part of the 20% (geez– I must know some of them) who would answer “yes” when asked if he or she identifies with the Tea Party. If the person is there, then it will almost certainly be the case that that he or she & I will agree on how cool the stuff is at the museum, even if we don’t agree about many other matters of consequence.

    Next time I collect data, too, I won’t be surprised at all if the correlations between science comprehension and political ideology or identification with the Tea Party movement disappear or flip their signs. These effects are trivially small, & if I sample 2000+ people it’s pretty likely any discrepancy I see will be “statistically significant”–which has precious little to do with “practically significant.”

    So, no, like any good researcher who surprises himself with his research I don’t think he’ll maintain that closure.

    Why don’t you think my comment is my truth?

    Because you’re very smart and prone to fits of sarcasm.

    Like

  60. Scott:

    I don’t know if you watch NBC news, but in case you don’t I thought you’d like to know that, after the lead story of the government opening up, the second story was a report on the botched Obamacare website launch.

    Like

    • Mich:

      I don’t know if you watch NBC news…

      I don’t. But certainly the more people that are talking about how bad Obamacare is, the more likely it is that we will be saved from it. I still don’t rate it very likely, though.

      Like

      • On another topic, when I hear the word “redskins” I think first of RG III and second of peanuts. So I have not considered the issue of the name of the NFL team as one that I had to spend any time thinking about, reading about, or discussing.

        I liked this column, however.

        http://tinyurl.com/pzfcrq9

        Like

        • Mark:

          I liked this column, however.

          His approach to the issue is an interesting one, and certainly better than most, but I still think it misses the mark. His analogy to the word “gyp” is not a good one. Using the the word “gyp” to mean “cheat” carries with it obvious and intended negative connotations. So when he says that he stopped using it because it defines a people in a demeaning way, that makes sense. But the term Redskin does not carry any such obvious (and most certainly not intended) negative connotations. It is not inherently demeaning, either in intent or in substance.

          The analogy with the word “negro” is a better one, but the point with regard to “negro” is that it has evolved out of usage because the people to whom it refers have chosen that path. So, with that in mind, to then dismiss as irrelevant the fact that most native Americans are not bothered by the term doesn’t make a lot of sense.

          And I would argue in fact that the evolution of language which Krauthammer embraces has in fact itself already transformed the word Redskin, not into some offensive slur, but rather into a benign reference to….a football team (or a peanut). No one walks into congress and talks about the number of redskin representatives there are, and the fact that the Washington football team is named Redskins does not suggest that to do so would be acceptable. The term redskin has evolved, and no longer means “native American”. It means “member of the Washington football team”. And the only thing offensive about that has been their play on the field this year.

          Like

        • And I would argue in fact that the evolution of language which Krauthammer embraces has in fact itself already transformed the word Redskin, not into some offensive slur, but rather into a benign reference to….a football team (or a peanut)

          I like your argument. This has so little emotional context for me except for my actual visceral salivation for redskin peanuts that I just don’t much care about the “issue”.

          Like

  61. I don’t see how these types of questions could be construed to be a measure of “science comprehension”

    I don’t either, but then, I’m not a cognition researcher. Nor am I omniscient and I don’t expect you are, either, so i guess we’ll both have to just accept limitations on our knowledge sets.

    Given that the field of cognition is old and well-established, I’m sure they have established norms for designing and testing cognition. If you want to go get a degree in the field and then get back to us with a description of how they design and test their questions, go for it. I’ll wait here.

    Jeesh, Scott!

    Like

    • Mich:

      I don’t either, but then, I’m not a cognition researcher.

      If a cognition researcher says “this means X”, I don’t just except that as true any more than I accept when a priest says that “this means X”, especially when it doesn’t make intuitive sense to me that it does mean X. I want to know why he says that it means X.

      Maybe I just don’t have the same kind of faith in scientists that you do.

      Like

  62. On another topic, when I hear the word “redskins” I think first of RG III and second of peanuts.

    I think first of RGIII (who is not turning out to be worth the money they paid for him) and then my high school, which is still called the Redskins. I don’t know (I’ve actually been meaning to ask) if they’ve taken heat for it or not.

    Like

  63. I won’t argue with you there, Mark. Good thing I’m in Baltimore! 😀

    Like

  64. I think they should change the emblem to a red-skinned potato(e) (SWIDT) and declare it a victory.

    I had no idea about the origin of the word gyp.

    Do not, however, get me started on how effed up Bohunks are…

    Like

  65. I got a new post up. it can be an open thread too.

    Like

  66. I want to know why he says that it means X.

    Then go read the literature and find out. No one is stopping you. If the difference between someone with an advanced degree in a field that has been rigorously tested saying “this means X” and a priest saying “this means X” is not obvious to you, then there is no use in discussing this.

    We’ve had this discussion before. In fact, it led to Paul writing a long post on scientific publishing, in which he addressed many of your questions. I seem to remember that you dismissed his expertise at the time, as well.

    Like

    • Mich:

      Then go read the literature and find out.

      I tried. There was no explanation of why he thinks that those types of questions were indicative of “science comprehension”. The CRT itself says that the questions measure something totally different. So why does he think they indicate something other than what they were designed to measure? He doesn’t say.

      I guess I am just not as impressed as you are with academic credentials. I think even smart and/or well educated people can make wrong assumptions, poor leaps of logic, and even be consciously or unconsciously deceptive.

      I seem to remember that you dismissed his expertise at the time, as well.

      Your memory isn’t all that good, I guess.

      Like

  67. I wonder what a PHD in, say, materials science who also is a devout Pro-life Catholic would score on dude’s test.

    Like

  68. I seem to remember that you dismissed his expertise at the time, as well.

    Nah, just didn’t get much follow up. It was worth writing, however. I’d thought about a follow up on the publishing process, but didn’t want to get bogged down (again) in an argument about snarky email scientists send each other. We are already engaged in an experiment as to what happens when you pump a lot of CO2 (and some other greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere. Matters like there being a navigable path through the Arctic and invasive species that used to not be able to handle cold snaps will eventually make the case better than any amount of arguing about it.

    I’ve been lurking for a little while, though haven’t had time to compose anything significant. The combination of the start of the bowling season (I’m league secretary and just became treasurer too) and travel by my wife (four business trips) and me (two personal trips) has left me little time and less inspiration. I like the idea of a this day in something, but don’t have the dedication to do that. Look for Science Fridays coming soon. Perhaps tonight if I finish off the edits to the bowling standards.

    With regards to the cognitive test, let’s go.

    A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

    I quickly got to 10 cents and $1, which is 90 cents apart. Move five cents in either direction and you get 5 cents and $1.05.

    If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

    The set-up tells me it takes one machine 5 minute to make a widget. Hence, 100 machines could produce 100 widgets in 5 minutes. The key being to reason through what the conditions mean rather than jumping.

    In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

    That one looks easy. The patch fills the lake on Day 48, so it fills half the lake on Day 47. The question is a little off in that this would require the original patch to be 1/2^48 of the lake. Practically, it is more than half full after 47 days and then fills out the rest on the last day. A technically correct answer would be between 46 and 47 days.

    I don’t see how these types of questions could be construed to be a measure of science comprehension. In fact the CRT itself only claims to measure the specific cognitive ability to suppress an intuitive response in favor of a reflective and deliberate response.

    You pretty much have it. I can think of a few problems that have come up recently in which this type of reasoning has proved useful. We have an automated system that’s supposed to send out an aerosol every 48 hours. It was occurring at the wrong time of day and every 24 hours, which is easy to fix. The odd part being that it wasn’t 24 hours, but happened four minutes later each day. While talking with my section head, I realized that the duration of the event was about four minutes. So, it looks like there was an interval of 24 hours between events, rather than occurring every 24 hours.

    The other came when I was dealing with a problem of overheating lasers. We run eight lasers and some of them were overheating. The solution was to use a circulator that would cool the laser cases with chilled water. The main line from the chiller goes to a manifold that splits up the flow eight ways. Hoses go to the lasers and back to a second manifold, which has one output for the return line to the chiller.

    While hooking everything up, one of the fittings cracked. I just decided to bypass one of the lasers that hadn’t been overheating. I wanted the flow to be just the same as if I was hooked up to this laser, so I ran a hose from the spare output to the spare inlet. The system helped, but the lasers were still running warm. I tried a couple of the individual hoses (one type was more flexible than the other, just dumping the output into the bath of the chiller. Both were sending out the same amount of water, so that wasn’t it. I took a look at the controller and noticed the case temperatures were a lot cooler than they had been.

    That’s when I realized my problem. It wasn’t blockage or flow, it was back pressure. By hooking one output directly to an input, I put a back pressure on all the lasers and so the flow was constricted. I plugged the spare output & inlet and then everything worked fine. A variant of this came up a few weeks after the system had been running continuously. One of the lasers was running warm (and it had one of the flexible hoses). My guess is that it was slightly kinked, just enough to restrict the flow. Putting the less flexible tubing on all the lasers solved that problem.

    OK. A long digression (and you might claim that it’s engineering). An experimental scientist has to do a fair amount of engineering (and a theorist programming). One needs to develop an intuitive sense towards making logical leaps. If I were to hazard a guess, it looks like a quick glance at some of the skills I’ve needed to do my job. Even leaping from organic solar cells to bio-aerosols.

    BB

    Like

  69. I wonder what a PHD in, say, materials science who also is a devout Pro-life Catholic would score on dude’s test.

    Well, my PhD is in physics, though materials science covers a lot of ground. As a pro-choice Catholic, I suspect I’d do pretty well. Then again, you appear to be conflating ability with belief.

    BB

    Like

Be kind, show respect, and all will be right with the world.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: