Author Archives: Terry

About Terry

I am a specialist in methodological issues (discrete choice modelling) and applied areas such as quality of life and end-of-life care. Specifically: I am a recognised world expert in best-worst scaling, with a particular interest in its use in health care and public policy. Together with the inventor, Jordan Louviere, and Anthony Marley, we are completing the definitive book explaining its use, to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. In the meantime a good introduction to the method is provided in my paper: Flynn TN. Valuing citizen and patient preferences in health: recent developments in three types of best-worst scaling. Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research 2010; 10(3):259-267. It should be noted that maxdiff scaling and associated terms are incorrect, misleading and primarily used by marketing companies. I am also co-developer of the ICECAP-O instrument, together with Professor Joanna Coast at the University of Birmingham. I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Choice (CenSoC), at the University of Technology, Sydney, as Head of Social Policy and Economic Evaluation.

truce

Well things have gone better in last 24 hours. This is not to say “all the shites have apologised” – indeed my criticism was largely against a bunch of shites who I knew never read this and the persons who did would engage constructively with me (which they did).

However, I still must make clear some thoughts, for the record. These are largely for people who don’t engage with me (ironically) so the typical reader of this should not think “oh he’s getting at me”. I’m in all probability not.

First:

Don’t try to bamboozle me and shut me up with post-modernistic crap. Intersectionalism gets nowhere with me, Why? Because YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA HOW TO FINANCE, SPREAD AND IMPLEMENT IT. Plus it’s a bag of shite.

Second:

Don’t give me “ah, OK, that’s interesting” line to a MMT argument. Then go on to spread EXACTLY the same shite next time about “not being able to afford stuff”. All it shows is that either:

(1) You didn’t read my stuff (in which case you’re a rude shite), or

(2) You didn’t understand my stuff (in which case you can’t add 2+2 in which case you are retarded). There. I said it. But it is literally true.

 

For those who think I’m rude, I didn’t start it. The “intersectionalists” on FB started it. The supporters of the LibDems on here continued it (supporting a bank manager who clearly doesn’t understand the basics of a balance sheet – and you wanted HIM to be PRIME MINISTER?!)

 

So no, I won’t listen to the Lib Dems. They are still “orange book” people from the 19th century. Change UK are obviously a joke. The Tories are (We hope) dying). Labour are, at least, allowing a MMT guy to talk to them. YES they’ve made a tonne of mistakes and I’m not going to stand up and proclaim they’re great. But they’re better than the other morons. And that is probably the best we can hope for in these sad times.

 

But we can improve things. Read Warren Mosler. Go make EVERYONE in your local constituency party read him. Then we might move forward. But if you tweet insulting crap that shows you can’t add 2+2 I reserve the right to delete you. In the same way that I don’t really want a gerbil as a follower.

not being harangued anymore

I find it funny that a “pro-EU” “friend” just said:

“nobody likes being harangued – they just switch off”

This was an argument made in all SERIOUSNESS by remainer who retweeted insulting pics from the big REMAIN march and who regularly retweeted insulting tweets about anybody who was a LEAVEr. You couldn’t make this shit up!

Well, first of all, I’m agnostic about the EU. I know a lot about the trading rules, about how they promote anti-environmental trade-routes across the planet. I also know that the local rules on things like air-travel etc are essential. But most of all I understand how #MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) has implications for “where we go next”.

But the idea that “nobody likes being harangued” from a person who REGULARLY HARANGUED PEOPLE ON TWITTER REALLY TOOK THE BISCUIT. I actually TALK to poor people in the centre of “BREXIT Central” aka Nottingham. They are fed up of people talking down to them. They hate the stupid memes. They automatically assume that if it is a joke on a major talk show against LEAVE it MUST be fake news and they must THEREFORE IGNORE IT. Can’t say I blame them. Nottm City has gone down the toilet in the 40 years since I was a kid.

Those who I went to school with and who presume to speak for these people are…well….liars. Try living here. Your “funny” facepics for the next march won’t help. If there is a 2nd referendum you’ll still lose.

Because you NEVER FUCKING UNDERSTOOD OR TRIED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT REALLY MATTERED TO PEOPLE. And no, I never thought the referendum was the right tool for the job…..but we are where we are.

too expensive nonsense again

I just got yet another Tweet from someone saying that if we allow the Tories to privatise more it’ll be “too expensive” to reverse. This is from someone to whom I have explained the mathematics of national income accounting. He presumably has chosen to ignore my plea.

Here it is, yet again, broken down into simple words:

(1) The government cannot run out of its own currency. To talk about something being “too expensive” is a nonsense. It shows you don’t understand the basics of national income accounting.

(2) Let’s assume a future left-wing government DOES nationalise a privatised NHS. All it does is create the money to buy it. Ideally it DOESN’T reimburse the venture capitalists who are feasting on it. Ideally it simply passes a law saying “public bodies with shares in the NHS are reimbursed…..everyone else gets zilch”. End of story. FDR pretty much did this.

Stop perpetuating the “it’d be too expensive” meme. It shows one of two things. Either:

(1) You don’t understand money and the identity relationship in mathematics. Which particularly worries me if you have a maths PhD. It kinda suggests you should give it back. Or

(2) Your “I should read that MMT stuff sometime….” line is just a line. You actually have no intention of doing so. You are pushing a political agenda that is blatantly at odds with the rules of accountancy and mathematics. Which suggests you think you are entitled to your own facts….which I find hilarious given that your preferred insult to people like LEAVErs is that they are making up their own facts.

One rule for EVERYONE – READ THE FUCKING FACTS and DEBATE. BTW your “funny faces” you did for the REMAIN march just recruited an additional 10 people to the LEAVE side in Nottingham. On the other hand I talked about trade, money, etc and got people to think “hmmmm”.

Yet *I* got the “you’re getting too het up” insult? Because I READ stuff?????

Finally, I’ve been told: “It’s not sensible to expect someone who struggled through GCSE maths 30y ago and gets their news from tabloids to immediately adjust to the intricacies of a new macroeconomic model when their “understanding” of economics is “Labour spent all the money on immigrants”.

So, you think people are stupid?

You, by virtue of your education, should make the rules?

Funny, that’s NOT my experience. I talk to people with no education in a poor part of Nottm and regularly get nuanced views on Europe. I worry profoundly when “clever” people say “we shouldn’t listen to stupid people”. “Stupid” people often are keen to learn. “Clever” people can be remarkably inflexible and keep repeating shit like “we have no money”.

Here’s my answer: It’s not sensible to expect the discourse to move forward onto FACTUAL STATEMENTS regarding MATHEMATICAL IDENTITIES when people with a PhD in Mathematics, instead of reading MMT and quoting the (very short quotable) statements from it, instead keep quoting the “nifty but WRONG” statements that reinforces the crap the tabloids post; who retweet insulting tweets against us who understand MMT, who tweet their oh-so-funny painted facepics they had ready for the REMAIN march a few weeks ago. When their 1.5 hours could have been FAR MORE PROFITABLY SPENT reading Mosler and quoting stuff that is BY DEFINITION TRUE (since it is a mathematical identity). Quit moving the goalposts. Read the stuff we MMT have set out in VERY bite size chunks. Else, quit moaning when we crash out at end of October. YOU have the power to change things.

So next time you even THINK about saying “you’re getting a bit het up about MMT old chap”, be ready. Because first time you retweet an insulting comment about LEAVErs being stupid I’ll simply remind you of the hours you spent painting an infantile facepic for a march rather than engaging with real debate.

 

Corporate goodbye

Just a quick note for those who haven’t been following my corporate account.

In short, I’m closing my company, effective immediately. The reasons are really too complicated to explain. *Some* reasons include:

  • Inability by some people to understand how to properly do comparisons across goods and services. A pig-headed insistence on using methods we know don’t work (*cough*Rotten Tomatoes*cough*) because “they’re short and easy”.
  • Lack of support from people who I trained but who, well, acted, shall we say “oddly”.
  • My increasing annoyance at working within a paradigm that is patently false – using a monetary “threshold” is wrong. Full stop. Go read Modern Monetary Theory. If you disagree, I can only conclude you either don’t understand the mathematical identity relationship (in which case I’m very concerned about how on earth you got to such a senior position) or you are deliberately misrepresenting the nature of real resources for political ends (in which case I am very concerned about your ethics).

Yeah I know this kind of views annoy some and “vindicate” some who think I don’t play politics. But there comes a point where you say “sod that for a game of soldiers”. Time to be honest. Because major national issues are being voted upon which rely on some honesty.

 

Life expectancy is falling due to governmental policy – some of this supported by “supposedly progressive forces”. Sorry, ain’t falling for that shite anymore. When I see my family, having worked its way up from nothing, having governmental policies of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats push them back down again, I get angry. Yeah I know the rates of cancer. But such clustering here? Hmmm. I read stories about issues that at least deserve the “need for proving safety” rather than presumption of safety and sue later philosophy.

 

In short, there are a lot of people who need to do a lot more reading.

Most-Least Voting Would have Killed Brexit

I’m looking at the results for England and Wales from the 2019 European Parliament election. Scotland and Northern Ireland are yet to declare (though we pretty much know the Scottish result already). The percentage votes are really rather remarkable if you are interested in Best-Worst Scaling, or the branch of it known as Most-Least Voting. I couldn’t have made up more interesting figures if I’d tried. Here are the percentages from the Guardian as at 09:55 BST on Monday 27/05/2019.

 

Brexit: 33.3%

Lib Dem: 20.9%

Labour: 14.6%

Green: 12.5%

Conservative: 8.8%

Change UK: 3.6%

Ukip: 3.5%

Plaid: 1.0%

 

Now, let’s do a little thought experiment. It is pretty subjective since we have no data on what party any individual liked *least*. But given the nature of this election, we can make some pretty informed guesses. And if we’d had Most-Least Voting, particularly if coupled with the most common constituency format across the EU (national), rather than regional, the pattern of MEPs elected would have been RADICALLY different.

 

Here are some interesting titbits to inform my counterfactual:

Extreme “Leave” support = 33.3%+3.5% = 36.8%

Extreme “Remain” support = 20.9%+12.5%+3.6% = 37.0%

Pretty similar, huh?

Under Most-Least Voting you get two votes: the party you like most (just as at present) but you must also declare the party you like least (for your ballot to be valid – else the mathematics doesn’t work). At the counting stage the total number of “least” votes is subtracted from the total “most” votes to give a “net approval rating”. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what would have happened in England and Wales, given these figures.

ASSUMING the Brexit + Ukip supporters had perfect foresight (snigger, bear with me), then they could have knocked out the three strong Remain parties. But those three parties would have knocked out Brexit + Ukip. IF the Brexit (being the big group) people didn’t concentrate their fire so perfectly they could have more easily knocked out one or two of the three Remain parties. BUT then the third would have got through easily.

So, what would we have likely ended up with? Most MEPs being ones who “didn’t articulate an EU policy very well” (if you want to be polite) or “who didn’t know the f*ck what they thought about the EU” (if you want to be less polite). In other words, most MEPs would have been Labour or Conservative (with Labour beating the Conservatives). They would have “come through the middle” of the debate.

Would this have been a “good” thing or a “bad” thing? I can’t answer that. Indeed if Arrow (“Nobel” prize-winner) couldn’t show the existence of a “fair” form of democracy then I bloody well can’t.

I will venture a thought, however. It is that such a hypothetical outcome would have shown what many of us who have done survey work already know: most people cannot possibly provide a properly informed view on EU membership – whether being instinctively “Remain” or “Leave”. The referendum had little to do with the EU (except for some racists and some greedy gits who used freedom of movement and capital to exploit people). Plots of the Index of Multiple Deprivation against Leave/Remain votes in Nottingham are almost a perfect straight line. If you felt left behind by 40 years of Westminster crappiness from both Tory and Labour governments then you tended to vote Leave. It’s really pretty simple.

Most-Least Voting would at least have nullified the issue that isn’t the real issue. The two main parties might – just might – have then been forced to start addressing the real issues going on across this country. Food for thought.

(NB I left out Plaid merely because their effect would have been marginal. If you want to include them in your own calculations feel free – it bumps up Remain vote a little).

EU supporters are just as stupid

This post will be antagonistic. But it will also be full of facts. So if you start arguing against the factual points I’ll block you without bothering to argue. Because much of it relies on what in mathematics is called the identity relationship – something that is true by definition. 2+2=4 in base 10. Try to argue otherwise and you are either (1) intellectually incompetent, or (2) a liar who is trying to discredit the piece for political reasons. I am deliberately steering well clear of “theories”. This is mostly accountancy.

 

First of all, I’ve been posting about “overly woke” people lately. Does this make me some kind of “traitor” to my (gay) minority? Of course not. It means I, like the great Tracey Ullman, recognises you pick your battles. And the biggest battle is providing an equitable (NOT EQUAL) society for everyone. There is a growing body of evidence showing that life expectancy is falling and child mortality is rising. Not (just) in places like Africa. The USA. The UK. Society is fracturing. It is time to concentrate on key issues that determine whether we as humans will survive. Arguing “micro-aggressions?” FFS prepare yourself for a long life of therapy as the traumas of the 21st century hit you daily. Or, to be more succinct, grow a pair.

 

OK that’s a bit subjective but here we get objective and the key issue concerns macroeconomics. If you have ever found yourself agreeing with ideas about “the government’s ability to spend”, a “governmental credit card”, or “the size of the national debt” then sorry. You’ve just illustrated you are a moron. You don’t understand the BASICS of how society works. You have NO FUCKING RIGHT TO LECTURE ME OR OTHERS ABOUT MINORITY RIGHTS, HOW TO ACHIEVE THEM OR ANYTHING ELSE. If you don’t understand the REAL constraints upon government then you are simply ill-educated or just deliberately spinning a neo-liberal lie. Either way I’m not listening to you. You are, literally, just as bad as a flat-earther. Someone who denies the facts. Go do accountancy 101 and learn the basic national income equations.

 

PEOPLE CANNOT SAVE UNLESS THE GOVERNMENT RUNS A DEFICIT. THIS IS AN IDENTITY RELATIONSHIP.

 

THE NATIONAL DEBT IS IDENTICALLY EQUAL TO THE ACCUMULATED SAVINGS OF THE NON-GOVERNMENTAL SECTOR OVER TIME. Wanna eliminate it? Good luck in your retirement. I shall laugh at you when a stock market fall means you get no pension one month, are evicted, and die on the sidewalk. You’ll be a great candidate for the Darwin Awards. You’ll also be doing the planet a favour.

 

Lots of people argue this shit. But one group particularly annoys me. Pro-EU people. Now, don’t get me wrong: I want European integration; I hate the BREXIT party; I LOATHE the UKIP party; I loathe the Conservative Party. However, I also understand the forces pulling the EU apart. They sadden me. But if you keep on LECTURING ME that I don’t understand why BREXIT is so awful, without using arguments based on the mathematical identities given above – part of “Modern Monetary Theory” which shouldn’t incidentally have been named a theory since it isn’t, it’s an identity relationship – then I will simply assume you are stupid, even if well-intentioned.

 

I will write more in due course. But here’s my take-away. If you are going to lecture me on the benefits of the EU:

  • What is the EU doing to reduce insane supply chains and just in time distribution models?
  • What is the EU doing to radically reduce its free trade area to encompass local areas that are carbon neutral and sustainable when the sea level rises many metres?
  • What is the EU doing to sort out fascists across member countries?

Granted, we are very very guilty of not solving these. However, stop lecturing us that the EU IS solving them. The problem is Europe-wide. The problem is a total failure to acknowledge the identity relationship in mathematics to allow investment in REAL resources – the skills of people, infrastructure immune to climate change, etc. Yeah the BREXITeers are fucking hypocrites. But YOU ARE TOO. Go read accountancy 101 and then come back and argue.

superhero movies

Been reading lists of “top tens” and suchlike. The ranking of the Superman films made me think and really, I mean really, realise why although I think Superman – The Movie is so spectacular (and on some days of the week would be placed at number one by me), the reason I have to place Superman II ahead of it (for all its flaws – largely related to the production fiascos about which you can google) is that despite the “super-kiss”, it doesn’t use a TOTAL DEUS EX MACHINA.

Superman I does with time travel. And I hate it when writers use that as a plot device to “undo a problem they got themselves into”. Of course the time travel thing was MEANT to be used in Superman II by Donner (which merely would have ruined S2 instead) – thus, although I retain huge respect for the man, and acknowledge he was treated badly when Warner Bros got cold feet about the “double movie deal” and made him use what he’d filmed (which was material from BOTH films) to make a coherent stand-alone first movie, I think the “Donner campaign” is misguided. Yes, the “Donner version of S2” has some sublime elements – it’s a crying shame that money meant that Superman regaining his powers was not done using the original filmed scene with Marlon Brando, and which is on google – it’s a tear-jerker) – but otherwise? I have to say that had the original plan been followed, Superman I would have been a great movie, but Superman II would have been ruined and “undone” everything from these first two movies, ready for a blank slate for future rehashes of plots/baddies etc. Which I really hate.

GLAD

I have signed up to the GLAD Study – the largest of its kind in mental health to try to understand associations between genes and depression/anxiety.

I am someone who professionally has been on the “other side of the fence” for decades – trying to recruit people, and the right type of people, to studies in attempts to help patients and further scientific knowledge. Thus I understand the need to sign up to studies, if one is eligible and I do so whenever appropriate.

I also have a very personal interest in the study – my mental health problems in recent years relating to anxiety and depression are no secret. I could probably write a patient’s guide on most antidepressants and types of talk therapy! I am in a relatively good place at the moment…..but I was only able to navigate the tortuous process of trying a multitude of treatments over a necessarily long period because I am self-employed and was always able to schedule my work in a manner that ensured I provided 100% in my work…..even though it often led to difficulties in the non-work arena.

Many people are not as fortunate – they have no flexibility in their life to undergo such tortuous “suck it and see” approaches to treatment. The GLAD study may ultimately make life easier for all of us – if we begin to understand what medications and other interventions are more or less likely to work in what patients, based on their genetic makeup, then much human misery may be avoided.

I have a purely personal desire, too, that some older treatments are rediscovered, along with the facts their side effect profiles are not half as bad as many young doctors have been taught!

Big bang theory fail

OK the Big Bang Theory is to finish. I enjoyed the first few seasons but like most/all sitcoms it became formulaic and I’m glad it is being put to bed.

Various hard-core internet nerds have given examples of where its claimed “devotion to detail” actually failed. I don’t generally get het up about these, but one enduring one irks me and I felt compelled to correct someone on YouTube – it concerns the iconic scene in Superman The Movie when Superman first reveals himself and saves Lois from the fall from the helicopter.

Unfortunately the BBT perpetuates the blatantly inaccurate meme that Lois would have died by hitting Superman’s arms at terminal velocity. Watch the bloody clip on YouTube! It is abundantly clear from watching the background lights of the Daily Planet building that Superman matched her rate of descent and caused her to decelerate….well above ground level…so as to gradually slow her and keep her alive. He then resumed upward flying to do the same with the helicopter.

Just another example of (predominantly) younger viewers perpetuating and sharing memes within 1 second without actually checking the original source material. Others have also debunked this silly meme.

Sheesh.

/oldgitmoment

bad academia

I’ve written before about some poor papers I’ve seen/reviewed/refereed in academia.

Unfortunately the problem is becoming worse not better. I recently read articles that showed absolutely no awareness of key articles – we are not talking articles that could legitimately be “missed” in a literature review because of issues regarding different terminology etc and being in unrelated disciplines. We’re talking articles that are:

  • In the same field or a a field that is now routinely scoured for info, being recognised as one which generates a lot of the major methodological developments
  • Open source so can be read by literally anyone
  • Co-authored by someone who would and should and have got a Nobel Prize, had there been one in his discipline….and who was (graciously) mentioned in the Nobel lecture of an Economist who *did* get the Prize but who recognised the theory had been proven elsewhere at least as early as in economics.

This begs the obvious question:

WHY DID THE AUTHORS IGNORE A PAPER THAT SAID EVERYTHING THEY SAY….AND SAID IT 10 YEARS AGO?

I’m afraid I have only two explanations:

  1. The authors deliberately ignored the key article, to justify their work to funders, or
  2. The authors are incompetent, missing an article that were a first year undergrad to miss in a summer dissertation, I’d have failed them instantly.

So, what is it?

I hesitate to harp on about my education, but sometimes you must call a spade a spade. I was taught economics, obtaining a 2.1 at Cambridge University where I was taught Marx, mathematical economics that went beyond what my MATHS friends were doing in their degree, high level statistics, and proper literature reviewing. The latter was reinforced and drummed into me in my MSc in Health Economics at York and PARTICULARLY during my PhD at Bristol in Social Medicine (specialising in medical statistics and health economics).

I taught med students….which was a horrifying experience in terms of realising how little they understood calculus (having supposedly got an A or maybe at worst B grade in maths A level). Now I won’t get preachy – stuff that was on the single maths syllabus from 1960 was on the further maths syllabus of my time (1990-1991). So I know A levels had already been dumbed down to some extent. But there’s a critical threshold, beyond which the candidate is, well, retarded…..sorry for un-PC term….but I’m fed up of excuses for these people. They get away with work that is no better than the “fake news” they excoriated in daily pollution of my Twitter Feed….and it has to stop.

Sorry, you’re shit. Your work is sub-standard and you shouldn’t, absolutely shouldn’t, be in academia. You’re simply not up to it.

And people wonder why I get angry at the rubbish I’ve had to read through for years; why I don’t do anything academic anymore. There are a few very talented groups who I exempt from the above – you know who you are.

Others – WHY are you doing what you are doing? How do you sleep at night?