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March 2006

When I discuss Hayek's brilliant "The Use of Knowledge in Society" in my MBA class, I try to relate it to their professional concerns by discussing prediction markets. I  give a couple of examples of companies using such markets and I even suggest that they--the MBAs--should pursue the idea with their employers.

But Tyler Cowen observes that businesses don't seem  to be using them widely yet and he offers some conjectures why. The post draws some interesting comments, too.

Another part of my lecture notes that will have to be changed. Sigh.

A few words about the George Mason men's basketball team . . .

Peter Boettke and Alex Tabarrok explain the connection between GM's economics department, law school, and basketball team.

I thought both George Mason's coach and Connecticut's coach should be commended for things they said on Sunday. George Mason's coach--after UConn came back and tied the game in the last two seconds and everybody thought George Mason would be devastated and that UConn would surely win, even the coach's wife thought so--told his players:

Fellas, I want to tell you one thing. There's no place I'd rather be right now than here with you guys playing this game. You lapsed on defense for five seconds, so now we have to beat Connecticut for another five minutes. There's no reason we can't do it.

There's no place I'd rather be right now than here with you guys playing this game. Letter-perfect and beautiful.

UConn's coach, after losing, after booting what most people thought was a sure third national championship, which would have elevated him to the Greatest Coaches Ever, said this:

As disappointed as I am, there's a part of me that feels a great deal of inner joy for Jim and his kids and his school. I think because I coached at Northeastern, I have a sense of what this means to all of them. I know Jim has waited a lot of years for something like this to happen. They've been on a magic carpet ride, but don't make any mistake about it: They're a very good basketball team. That's why this is a beautiful game. I applaud them.

Coming from a heartbroken man, that's heartfelt and classy and lovely.

Finally, for the people getting too carried away and calling this the "greatest upset ever" or the "most amazing four games ever" or some other hooha, please understand that it wasn't. Close, but no cigar. The greatest of all those things was the 1983 NC State Wolfpack. If you need a refresher, go here, and let your mind boggle, and feel the chills all over again.

• In seven of the team's last nine victories, they trailed in the last minute.

• The Wolfpack needed to win the ACC tournament to even qualify for the NCAAs. And they barely did that, beating Wake Forest 71-70, North Carolina 91-84 in overtime, and Virginia 81-78.

• In the postseason, N.C. State managed to beat Ralph Sampson-led Virginia, which it had lost to twice during the regular season.

• In one regular-season stretch, the Wolfpack lost six of eight, including back-to-back 18-point losses to unranked teams.

• In the team's opening-round Tournament game against Pepperdine, the Wolfpack rallied from a six-point deficit with 24 seconds left to win in overtime.

• No team had ever won the NCAA championship with 10 losses.

This may be sound statistics--although I doubt it--but after reading stuff like this, it's no wonder the lay public gets confused and frustrated. There is a metric ton of studies indicating that omega-3 fatty acids have considerable health benefits. (A brief summary of some of the literature is here.)

But because one study, of a special population, failed to find benefits--for reasons not understood--cranking up the meta-analysis machinery yields the conclusion that there is "no evidence of a clear benefit to health".

When I get some time, I think I'll do a meta-analysis of gravity. Maybe after factoring in studies of self-levitating gurus, it'll turn out that there's "no evidence of a clear gravitational effect".