Month: January 2019

The Elephant In The Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life

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‘The House divided’: the creation of a second division lobby for the Commons in 1836

The History of Parliament

The huge publicity given to recent parliamentary votes on Brexit has put the over-crowded division lobbies of the House of Commons in the spotlight as never before and prompted the introduction of proxy voting on a trial basis. While MPs now vote in two division lobbies, this has only been the case since 1836, as Dr. Kathryn Rix, Assistant Editor of our House of Commons, 1832-1945 project, explains.

The Aye lobby, House of Commons

On 22 February 1836 an historic vote took place in the House
of Commons, when the second reading of the London and Brighton Railway Bill was
defeated by 281 votes to 75. What made this division so significant was not the
legislation involved, but the manner in which the vote took place. As the Commons Journal recorded, ‘The House
divided: The Yeas to the old Lobby; The Noes to the new Lobby’. That new…

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from Microeconomic Insights: ‘The economics of density: evidence from the Berlin Wall’

The Long Run

by Gabriel Ahlfeldt (London School of Economics, LSE), Stephen Redding (Princeton University), Daniel Sturm (LSE) and Nikolaus Wolf (Humboldt University Berlin)

The full post and online access to the full article is available on the Microeconomics website

Economic activity is highly unevenly distributed across geographical space. This is reflected in the existence of cities as well as the concentration of economic functions in specific locations within cities, such as Manhattan in New York and the Square Mile in London. Understanding the strength of the forces of agglomeration that underlie these concentrations of economic activity is central to a range of policy questions.

What makes cities thrive? Is it proximity to natural resources – such as rivers, oceans, and energy sources – that make places attractive for firms to locate production? Is it shared amenities – such as leafy streets and scenic views – that make them attractive places for people…

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A response from Steve Pinker to Salon’s hit piece on “Enlightenment Now”

Why Evolution Is True

Phil Torres is a “riskologist” who studies existential risk, and seems to have it in for the New Atheists (Salon, of course, is always willing to provide him with a platform for that). Torres’s latest Salon piece is an attack on Steve Pinker and his last book (Enlightenment Now, or EN), a piece called “Steven Pinker’s fake Enlightenment: His book is full of misleading claims and false assertions.” Torres’s piece is pugnacious, ending with a suggestion that Pinker may actually be hiding stuff that he knows is wrong:

Let me end with a call for action: Don’t assume that Pinker’s scholarship is reliable. Comb through particular sentences and citations for other hidden — or perhaps intentionally concealed — errors in “Enlightenment Now.” Doing so could be, well, enlightening.

When I read Torres’s piece, I wasn’t impressed, as Pinker’s “errors and false assertions” seemed to…

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The Australian approach to “consumer protection” policy is a threat to consumer welfare and free speech

Truth on the Market

The US Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights recently held hearings to see what, if anything, the U.S. might learn from the approaches of other countries regarding antitrust and consumer protection. US lawmakers would do well to be wary of examples from other jurisdictions, however, that are rooted in different legal and cultural traditions. Shortly before the hearing, for example, Australia’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (ACCC) announced that it was exploring broad new regulations, predicated on theoretical harms, that would threaten both consumer welfare and individuals’ rights to free expression that are completely at odds with American norms.

The ACCC seeks vast discretion to shape the way that online platforms operate — a regulatory venture that threatens to undermine the value which companies provide to consumers. Even more troubling are its plans to regulate free expression on the Internet, which if implemented in the US, would…

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