IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas

  • There’s a new documentary about Ghanaian reporter Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who has gone undercover to expose corruption, abuse in psychiatric hospitals, killing of albinos, and many other things (including once hiding disguised as a rock to film). On The Media had a nice interview where he explains that the problems his country faces requires a more forward style of journalism than often seen in the West.
  • Dan Kopf at Priceonomics has been writing about the obscure histories of common statistics. His latest looks into why the average won over the median, which involves an 11th C. Persian mathematician trying to figure out the longitude of a city in (now) Afghanistan.
  • Sierra Leone’s latest export is Sea Cucumbers (which are more of a slug than vegetable). They’re considered to have healing and aphrodisiac properties in China, which is never good news for a species.
  • Venezuela is declaring Fridays for the next two months a holiday to save electricity. Marketplace has a nice primer on their economy since the 1920’s, which is essentially the story of the resource curse – freely flowing oil discourages the economy from diversifying. The Caracas Chronicles journalism project projected that by May the Bolivar will be worth less than the paper it’s printed on.
  • The YouTube drama An African City chronicles the lives of five Ghanaian women who return home after living abroad, and their career and personal lives.
  • ICYMI, Chris has an interesting thread on twitter asking how to secure data when working in an autocratic country. (Both IPA and ISIS prefer TrueCrypt for data encryption, its backstory is in the New Yorker).
  • A new Science paper from the research team who exposed the LaCour fraud, finds the same technique – long (~10 min) non-judgemental conversations – does change attitudes, in this case about transgender rights (10 points on a 100 point scale, persisting three months later). The problem with this approach is that canvassing is very time-consuming (e.g. expensive) because of the many non-responses. In this case, they were able to better target people willing to participate by using a pre-screening survey. FiveThirtyEight talks about the paper here, and Princeton’s Elizabeth Paluck has a commentary on it in Science here.

And we may have lost Merle Haggard, but the only economics country singer, Merle Hazard (give it a sec) is still going strong.