"Gee, I should blog about that," says Alan a few times a day. Then the link goes into an immense pile of similar bookmarks, never to be seen on these pages. Let's try something different: a list of papers I've found interesting in the past week, with brief comments about each.
What if we could use social media data mining for something besides predatory capitalism? These folks found that they could predict the spread of dengue fever in a tropical city from those data, which is both inspiring and a little bit eerie.
When a drug patent ends, the drug becomes a lot less profitable. Sometimes it becomes so unprofitable that companies stop making it. Other times the sole remaining supplier jacks the price up so high nobody can afford it. This paper explores the problem, and proposes forming public-private partnerships to fix these broken drug markets.
Animal welfare laws ensure humane treatment for laboratory animals, but in many countries these laws don't extend to wildlife. This policy analysis argues that research journals should fix that loophole themselves, rather than waiting for national legislatures to act.
It's called a poverty trap: debt causes stress, which leads to bad decision-making, which causes people to incur more debt. A natural experiment allowed researchers to quantify this phenomenon, and revealed that programs that reduce the number of debts owed by poor people can improve their decision-making skills.
Speaking of economics, how should we measure a nation's wealth? The traditional Gross Domestic Product number doesn't work well for developed nations; massive online choice experiments might yield a better index.
By now we should all realize that burning fossil fuels is destroying the planet and killing people. This study looks at the problem the other way around, estimating the benefits we could reap if we kicked the fossil fuel habit. It would be pretty awesome. If we could.
Sometimes a paper's title makes me say "wait ... WHAT?" This one's about the effects of an infection-generated electric field. Yes. Infection-generated. Electric field. Just read the paper. I can't make this stuff up.