Saturday, October 16, 2010

Maths and Economics - The Interlude

Those of you paying attention may have noticed that I yet to deliver on my promise to provide a second economic-maths example. Apologies for the delay, but I've had a workload from hell this passed week. Honestly, I'll try and get around to it during the next few days when the storm clears. (The good news is that I at least know what I am going to post about...) 

Anyway, I'd thought I'd share a little statistic in the interim:

As of the present moment, my original post on why we need maths in economics has been viewed more than five times as much as the follow-up oil-tank model.

I found this pretty interesting. The first post was meant to act as a general defence of the subject. However, realising that general defences can be a bit vague I was motivated to offer specific examples to illustrat my points. I really thought that this was where the "value" would lie, since readers would be able to see the actual mechanics at work. Not the case apparently...

Perhaps the calculus in the “oil-tank” example put a few people off. Fair enough, I don't expect everyone to care for going through the maths... But I at least expected them to look over the post and skim to the model's conclusions. However, the click-through rates* indicate that even this hasn't been happening. Rather, it seems that people simply aren't as interested in a specific example of maths being useful to shed light on an economic problem, as they are in having a general discussion about it. In their own little way, these posts offer some insight into behavioural attitudes towards maths in economics – a sort of informal experiment if you will, which shows people leaning towards what I would regard as an important, but less precise approach.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: It's easy to take a position on things without getting to specifics. Providing concrete examples to back-up or demonstrate your point can be harder, but at least you give people something to work with. However, whether everyone will be interested in the evidence at hand is still open to question.** 

* Clearly, Stickman's Corral isn't competing with any blogs worth mentioning in terms of numbers. Still, I think that my first maths post in particular has drawn a pretty respectable audience for a lowly grad student blogging in a sea of anonymity :)
** For the dramatic version of what I’m talking about, we have some classic Hollywood.

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