Home > Publications . Search All . Browse All . Country . Browse PSC Pubs . PSC Report Series

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Smock says cohabitation does not reduce odds of marriage

Smock cited in story on how low marriage rates may exacerbate marriage-status economic inequality

Shapiro says Americans' seemingly volatile spending pattern linked to 'sensible cash management'

Highlights

Susan Murphy named Distinguished University Professor

Sarah Burgard and former PSC trainee Jennifer Ailshire win ASA award for paper

James Jackson to be appointed to NSF's National Science Board

ISR's program in Society, Population, and Environment (SPE) focuses on social change and social issues worldwide.

Next Brown Bag


PSC Brown Bags will return in the fall

The Law of Genius and Home Runs Refuted

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

DiNardo, John, and Jason Winfree. 2010. "The Law of Genius and Home Runs Refuted." Economic Inquiry, 48(1): 51-64.

In a lively, provocative article, DeVany claims inter alia that the size distribution of home runs follows a continuous "power law" distribution which is nested in a larger class of "stable" statistical distributions characterized by an infinite variance. He uses this putative fact about the size distribution of home runs to argue that concern about the use of steroids to enhance home run ability is necessarily misplaced. In this article, we show that the initial claim is false and argue that the subsequent claim about the potential importance of steroid use does not follow from the first. We also show that the method used to establish that the size distribution of home runs is characterized by an infinite variance is unreliable and will find evidence "consistent" with infinite variance in all but the most trivial of data sets generated by processes with finite variance. Despite a large and growing literature that spans several fields and uses methods and arguments similar to DeVany's, we argue that mere inspection of the unconditional distribution of some human phenomenon is unlikely to yield much insight.

Browse | Search : All Pubs | Next