In 2017, American rock climber Alex Honnold ascended Yosemite National Park’s vertical rock formation, El Capitan, in under four hours. Honnold’s extraordinary journey to the top was captured in the documentary Free Solo, named after the method of climbing without ropes or equipment which Honnold used.
While audiences largely reacted to the movie with nail-biting, dizzying fascination, economist John Cochrane thought to himself, “Why wasn’t this done 150 years ago?” On today’s show, the three economic lessons that prompted his question, and the surprising links between rock climbing and economics.
Maybe we should celebrate communities that give rise to accomplishments.
The President’s remarks at the recent State of the Union aroused my curiosity:
Since my election, the net worth of the bottom half of wage earners has increased by 47 percent — three times faster than the increase for the top 1 percent.
This prompted the following questions:
- So, what is the average net worth of the bottom 50% of Americans?
- How has the average net worth of the bottom 50% changed over time, adjusted for inflation, starting around 1970?
- For extra bonus points, can you compare that to data on the top 1%?
This sounds like it would make a good story for The Indicator from Planet Money.
Planet Money describes a bank that the government setup to track dealers.
What causes what? The human brain is programmed to answer this question constantly, and using a very basic method. This is how we survive. What made that noise? A bear made that noise. What caused my hand to hurt? Fire caused my hand to hurt.
But sometimes, we use these simple tools to solve complex problems. And so we get things wrong. I wore my lucky hat to the game. My team won. Therefore, my lucky hat caused my team to win.
On today’s show we dive deep into correlation and causation with Charles Wheelan, author of the book, Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data.
The most important metric in analyzing a schools is value added. Many private and charter schools start with more affluent and motivated students.