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Fighting the whack-a-mole online battle

Last week, a group of 17 countries along with leading social media platforms signed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Christchurch Call “to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online”.The non-binding three-page document is inspiringly pragmatic, combining aspirational actions without falling for heavy-handed (and misguided) regulations.Kudos to the international initiative. There is indeed much to celebrate about such a concerted effort against the spread of online radicalism.But we must not lose sight of the implementation hurdles ahead – and keep working for... Read more

Dr Patrick Carvalho
Insights Newsletter
24 May, 2019
Game of thrones winter

“Winter is Coming”

Being an economist is great. But there is a downside. A lot of people wind up annoyed by some parts of fantasy worlds in books and movies, but economists get annoyed by very different things.HBO’s Game of Thrones finally ended this week. The last two seasons brought increasing fan annoyance: the plotting and pace made far less sense than in prior seasons.For those who haven’t followed, Game of Thrones largely takes place on the continent of Westeros, in a fantasy... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
24 May, 2019
Jonathan Haidt

Disagree more constructively

When US psychologist Jonathan Haidt published The Righteous Mind in 2012, he himself may not have known how prescient it would be. The book’s subtitle is Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Though such divisions were clearly visible even then, they were just a foretaste of what was to come. Trump, Brexit and the global surge of populism have created more politically divided societies than at any time during the past half century. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
3 May, 2019
Bootcamp

Spanking another dodgy stat

It’s too easy for bad statistics to influence policy. About a decade ago, BERL added up every dollar spent by heavier drinkers, counted some other costs twice, and claimed that alcohol use cost New Zealand $4.8 billion per year. The number still floats around when someone wants to justify the next round of restrictions on drinking. So I pay a bit of attention to dodgy-looking statistics.The Los Angeles Times last week reported on Chinese youth boot camps encouraging boys to... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
3 May, 2019
Hipster

Hipsters need nametags

Wellington is a small place. Everybody complains they’re always running into people they know, that it’s hard for young people to date people who haven’t been dated by their friends already, and that it’s impossible to have an impromptu coffee at Astoria without being recognised by some journalist. Maybe that’s what’s behind the hipster drive for anonymity through identical non-conformity. Two weeks ago, MIT Technology Review wrote a piece explaining an older research article claiming to show why non-conformists, hipsters... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
15 March, 2019
Family

Faking a wellbeing focus?

The government is hyping Budget 2019 as a world-leading “Wellbeing Budget”. The December 2018 Budget Policy Statement proclaims the government’s key focus on improving the wellbeing and living standards of New Zealanders. Do the public have any real evidence of any substance behind such froth? It appears not. Government policies can be expected to improve overall community wellbeing if an authoritative analysis demonstrates that the benefits will exceed the costs to those affected, in some overall sense. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
8 March, 2019
Newspaper

News that isn’t news

Scroll down your news feed, what do you see? Trump’s latest dumb tweet, an update on the crisis in Venezuela, maybe something on Brexit? Unless you’re on the Economist, probably not. If you jump on any mainstream news website, you’re more likely to see something about the latest drama on Married at First Sight (MAFS), unruly tourists, or the latest limited-edition Cadbury or Whittaker’s chocolate bar. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
1 March, 2019

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