Monday, July 23, 2007

Playing Climate Change Poker, Magical Thinking and Why Shrinks make Better Money Managers than Quants

The story that goes with the above headline, below.
First a segue:

Jerry Yang, a 39-year-old psychologist who uses his professional training in his card-playing arsenal, won the $8.25 million top prize Wednesday at the World Series of Poker.

From Forbes

A second segue:
Psychologists Are Better Stockmarket Speculators Than Economists

Now get these names:

Shareholders seem to be swayed by the buying pattern of other shareholders much less than has hitherto been assumed. This at least is the conclusion arrived at by economists of the Bank of England and the universities of Heidelberg and Bonn. Together with the corporate consultants McKinsey they scrutinised the share-buying behaviour of about 6,500 persons in an Internet experiment. They found no signs of 'herd instinct' during the experiment - on the contrary, some of the test subjects decided against buying those specific shares which had just been bought by so many other players. Psychologists, particularly, mistrusted those shares which they regarded as overvalued. This strategy benefited them enormously: on average they were markedly more successful in their speculation than physicists or mathematicians - or even economists.

Those folks can round up some intellectual horsepower although when McKinsey asserted superiority, BofE, UH and UB voted en bloc.
McKinsey cried foul, called for en banc and made a couple mil. while waiting.

Abstract of paper from Medical News Today

Finally: "As above, so below"
This phrase comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus.

Speaking of magic, from Climate Progress (and the ostensible purpose of this blog):

What’s the target? Both the European Union (EU) and, at a national level, the United Kingdom have focused on a CO2 emissions cut of at least 60%, which is intended to reduce average global warming by 2°C. (The June G8 summit also spoke of an emissions cut of 50% globally, but only in the context of exploring such a goal and with no greenhouse gas stabilization target in mind.)

What are the chances of meeting the 2° objective? Not likely, according to Malte Meinshausen of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, who presented the scientific evidence in a report of the 2005 Exeter climate change conference and who’s been quoted since, both by UK government economic advisor Sir Nicholas Stern and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Which seems to imply that the EU's "Limiting Global Climate Change to 2 degrees Celsius"
is mighty close to what the psychologists call Magical Thinking.
Perhaps we should put a little more effort into adaptation.
It's just a thought.