Category Archives: Economics

most-least pt 2

One good thing about Twitter is getting some feedback on things you propose. OK we know most of Twitter is like a swamp, but I’ve had the benefit of some excellent, constructive comments, in the light of my discussion of most-least voting.

The discussion has revolved largely around “how to present, or “sell” it to the public”.

This is a valid question. In the UK we are used to a system that very transparently rewards a single winner in a constituency – the person getting the most votes. For all the flaws in FPTP it is at least clear and transparent what’s going on.

Changing the system runs into various issues that have been raised:

  1. Many proportional systems used across the EU use “multi-member constituencies”. You no longer have a single MP to bring concerns to.
  2. The system used to count is very opaque to the average member of the population. Even someone like me can get bamboozled.
  3. Ranking systems SOUND attractive. In practice they are both theoretically and practically awful.

Multi-member constituencies

Having several members is attractive in one sense – there’s likely to be an MP “close to” your views. However, constituencies are large and GETTING to your preferred MP’s office might be a much bigger journey.

Opaque system

We might know how to physically rank candidates, but the system of how votes get translated into seats necessarily involves equations. Most people’s eyes glaze over.

Ranking is bad m’kayyyyy

Ranking candidates from (1) (top) downwards sounds intuitive. In practice it is riddled with problems.

First, mathematically, for a ranking to properly represent Mr Smith’s preferences, he MUST be equally “certain” of his “top candidate”, his “2nd best”, his “third best”….down to his “bottom” candidate. We rarely get the data to test this. But when we have done, we almost inevitably find it fails. Mr Smith is pretty sure of his top (most preferred) candidate. He is also pretty sure of his bottom (least preferred) candidate. But middle candidates? Nope. Quite frequently he fills them in almost randomly.

Yet in counting, if Mr Smith’s top choice gets eliminated (due to too few votes overall), then his 2nd and lower preferences then become absolutely KEY. They are redistributed. Which is how nonsense candidates like the Monster Raving Loony Party candidate might get through.

Theoretically two things have gone wrong:

First, rankings in the middle are very unstable but mathematically are treated as if the person was “just as certain” as they were with their top and bottom ranks. This is bogus.

Second, redistributing the votes from people whose preferred candidate has been eliminated in effect gives them two or multiple “bites of the cherry”. This is undemocratic. Whether you get “one bite” or “several” depends on whether you happened to choose the eventual “winner” as top rank. Challengers get a shedload of attacks on the front-runner, even if they’re a demonstrable loonie.

Most-Least – what is ITS problem?

ALL democratic systems fail at least one key criterion of fairness (Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem). Most-least’s is not entirely clear. But as a Twitter colleague said, it may be a hard sell, because if (say) Labour and the Conservatives “knock each other out” then a candidate with few “most” votes (but few least votes) may win. This “looks bad”.

I agree, from the perspective we hold at the moment, it does indeed look odd.

However, I’d argue we need to change the narrative. We have to start thinking about “which candidate is the most unifying in terms of being least polarising?” Now, the Monster Raving Looney candidate won’t win. It’ll be a more well-known party candidate. But maybe we should also be taking a leaf out of the book of countries like the USA – with the possibility of recall elections. If a nonsense candidate does get through, it won’t be hard to get a recall election to get rid of him of her in favour of a serious person.

But the bottom line is I believe we must stop thinking that “the winner” gets to ignore the (often 50+% of)  electors who didn’t vote for him or her – and indeed might ALL have agreed he/she was the WORST person on the ballot.

It is all about the terms of the debate and how we define “winning”.

 

 

Most-Least Voting redux

Just a quick repeat of the logistics and mathematics of Most-Least Voting. This is a type of voting that:

(1) Satisfies an apparent desire by British people to “change the voting system by the minimum amount”;

(2) Is NOT perfectly proportional, BUT tends to produce outcomes that are far closer to the proportionality in the proportional systems endorsed by a lot of parties on the European mainland than existing First-Past-The-Post (FPTP).

Thus, it is a practical compromise that I believe would be acceptable to people whilst giving smaller parties greater enfranchisement. Crucially, the often 60+% of people in many constituencies who didn’t vote for the “winner” and feel disenfranchised, become RE-ENFRANCHISED by getting to veto candidates that are widely regarded as unacceptable.

STEP 1:

This works EXACTLY as at present. It is First-Past-The-Post, with a voter indicating that candidate they like MOST. Most totals are tallied, like now. But that is no longer the end of the story. A second step is conducted.

STEP 2:

Voters must, for their ballot to be valid (and the mathematics to work) cast a second ballot. This can be considered the “reverse” to Step 1: they just indicate the candidate they like LEAST. Think of it as “which candidate do I consider totally unacceptable?”. Least totals are tallied.

COUNTING AND THE WINNER:

“Least” totals are subtracted from “most” totals. Thus if the Conservative candidate under FPTP would “win” with 45% (and the remaining 55% of people spread too thinly across Labour, LibDems and Greens) then things might change. If all supporters of those three “anti-Tory parties” put “Conservative” as “LEAST” then that is 55%. The Net Approval Rating of the Conservative candidate is 44-55=-10%.

Suppose Labour got 40% of “most” votes (coming 2nd under FPTP). Suppose all Conservative voters put Labour as “Least”. That’s only 45%. 40-45=-5%. There are no more “least votes” left – they’ve all been used to veto the Tory.

Labour gets -5% so beats the Conservatives. What about the minor parties? Well these must add up to 15% (100-45-40). The Conservatives and Labour shot each other down. So, one of the minor parties (let’s say the LibDems) got all those remaining 15% most. There are no least votes to knock them down.

RESULT = Lib Dem win.

TACTICAL VOTING:

Of course the public ALWAYS learn how to “game” any voting system. It’s likely some strongly BREXIT tories would put LibDem as “least”. It is not necessarily the case that the Lib Dems will “always come through the middle as the party nobody hates”.

Indeed down south the Conservatives and LibDems will likely try to knock each other out, potentially letting in Labour. Further north the Conservatives and Labour might attack each other, allowing Lib Dem wins (as illustrated above).

You can ALWAYS construct – under ANY voting system – a set of figures that gives a “weird” result – this is inevitable given Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem (no voting system is fair).

But I personally believe that the tendency of M-L voting to stop extremists is a good property at this place and at this time. It’s worthy of consideration. The Baltic states have used or in one case do use it.

Mathematically, M-L is the system that is least likely to give an incorrect “ranking” of all the candidates in a constituency, after taking on board “degree of like and dislike” of EVERYONE.

 

M-L voting has been/is used in some of the Baltic States so is not “just a mathematical curiosity”. There are some peer-reviewed articles (which alas I no longer have access to, not being in academia anymore and with which I had no connection) which have illustrated that M-L voting tends to penalise extremists who adopt negative campaigns and conversely benefit centrists who are penalised under systems like First-Past-The-Post.

 

M-L voting is thus something for which I have no “dog in the fight”, although I approve of it, with it being a SPECIAL CASE OF BEST-WORST SCALING, for which I am co-author of the definitive textbook.

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.

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?

semi-retiring from blogging

Unfortunately I shall be semi-retiring from blogging.

When I say “semi”, I mean that general discussions on my personal website and comment on my personal twitter account will become few and far between. I shall continue to make comments/blogs on my work account.

There are several, in some cases related, reasons:

(1) Standards of practice in DCEs are not improving in health. It’s profoundly depressing when you read a blog entry/article/op-ed that has you nodding fiercely – as just happened – and then you get to the central defence of the paper. And it involves a discrete choice experiment that has not followed proper practice and stands a non-trivial chance of being totally wrong.

(2) Standards of literature review are appalling and getting worse by the year. When I did my PhD you wouldn’t dream of submitting a paper that didn’t show awareness of the literature – particularly if key aspects of your design have been heavily criticised by others.

(3) I get the distinct impression “political arguments” are trumping “data”. This partly follows on from (2): it’s well-known and established why quota sampling is important in DCEs yet “population representative sampling” continues to be used as an “advantage” (ha!) of DCEs done in the field of QALY Decision-making.

If this makes no sense to you then can I respectfully suggest you need to go do some reading?

If you don’t know the finding (from the mid 1980s) that heteroscedasticity on the latent scale is a significant problem in terms of bias, and how it matters in QALY studies, then it makes me think you have a rather large hole in your statistical knowledge and worries me immensely.

I won’t name names, in the interests of discretion, but I’m tired of making this point year in year out, with no result (with the honorouble exception of the EuroQoL Foundation who funded a group I am part of to look at this)….and I showed it empirically in the BWS book. Please read the health chapters to understand this. I’m open to questions by email if you don’t understand the logic.

(4) I spent a lot of my own money showing how attitudes are related to preferences in terms of politics…..which got me zilch…..the media are lemmings….they’d rather all jump off the cliff together than report something different (and based on stronger assumptions) and risk being “the one who was wrong”. Again, lack of statistical training, noted already by people like Ben Goldacre.

So I’m afraid I’m a little tired of all this. I have a business to run. Parents to do a lot of stuff for.

I’m still here on email – ask me if you’re puzzled. I’m not trying to be obstructive here. But I need to concentrate on putting food on the table.

All the best,

Terry