Friday, April 07, 2006

...and this is how we amuse ourselves!

Economists that is...

attended a seminar on the financial and economic factors in Terrorism..and it ended up being a micro lec on maximising a terrorist leader's profit maximising function which had elements like the value of his life which is taken as a discounted value of future streams of income and even had the probablity of being caught!

The function was subject to a budget constraint that had income of the outfit constrained by the number of followers or some such thing...

The wonders of using Mathematical functions to reduce ever human aspect to an equation will never cease to amaze me.

on a more serious note...
the presenter made a statement to the effect that women have been found to have a sobering effect on men..hence the more educated the women in a society, the lesser the chances for terrorism.

just by the way...that is changing..Gujarat saw hordes of educated middle class families happily participating in the massive raiding and looting of shops that took place when the pogrom took place in 2002. These included women who helped their men stack their cars with consumer durables and gleefully goaded them on even as thousands of Muslims being hacked in their neghbourhoods.

as a witness told me, " even as one part of Ahmedabad burned, Hindu families were happily eating at the newly opened branch of McDonalds!"

Some sobering effect that was...

another thing...
Regressions don't necessarily imply causality...hence by fitting in regressions and stating that educated women have have a negative impact on terrorism...doesen't make much sense. it's equivalent to making spurious correlations.
we need to desist from making generalisations like "All women have maternal instincts", "Women by nature are more peace loving", etc etc.
which brings forth another tangential point to my mind...Gandhi was accused by the Hindu Mahasabha and his assassins of "effiminating" the national movement, a passive (which shouldn't be confused for a non active response)response to violence was seen as emasculating the struggle. Hence the whole idea of even seeing the nation as a motherland (females seen as weak and seekers of male protection) and the need for its sons to protect its honour, which adds to the jingoism and pathological nationalism that prevails amidst several NRIs.


At 10:46 AM, Blogger Ashish said...

Until a couple of years ago, I was convinced that economists do not live in ivory towers. Sure, every now and then, they come up with stuff that is rather irrelevant, but for the most part, they do deal with real live issues. And then I met Micro at Gokhale. And I met Micro's cousin, Pub. Econ. And it's been downhill ever since.
Even so, this one takes the cake. A terrorist's utility curve. Oh man, but that is fantastic.
For once I wish I'd attended a seminar at Gokhale.
Trouble is, for all the wrong reasons.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Mirchii said...

Sorry, but I gave up economics after grade 10. But I still wuv you!

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Gaurav said...

Common sense is not so common.
How can you expect everybody to have that.

Moreover, I would like to say that not every article deals with real life. Reality(sensible things) is just a small subset of Complex Space(wierd things) though both innumerable.

You got to see one small example of that. You just look at the imagination (free, but daring).
I think that a motivation to do something new forces us to get undesired results and the best thing is it is RESEARCH.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger orange said...

Terrorist utility curve..quite obviously from someone who's used to plush AC surroundings, home cooked meals and in general the good life. To posit a whole regression function or whatever on people you've only read about (that too read only one side of the story)is jusy my reaction to your seminar whoever it was...HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!

At 5:12 AM, Blogger Vibha said...

i think i partly agree with Gaurav...coz you do need an amazing amoutn of imagination to postulate these outrageous as they might be. and i do think that after all theorizing is simplifying to a great extent complex reality which we are trying to understand. hence a model is very often the ideal and we measure the deviations (reality) from the ideal.
but ashish that is not to disagree with the fact the increasing using math might actually trivialise a whole world of complexities...and might actually discard with useful qualitative information that we need to account for. at the end of the day math is merely a tool for precision. and we have to let it be at that.
and i hope that our understanding of that will help us get down from our ivory towers.

At 3:06 AM, Blogger Rajesh said...

People are getting some offbeat ideas when they have some free time dont have any hot news/issue (Gandhi accused).


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