Show me the data

An article about journal impact factors: A quote:

It became clear that Thomson Scientific could not or (for some as yet unexplained reason) would not sell us the data used to calculate their published impact factor. If an author is unable to produce original data to verify a figure in one of our papers, we revoke the acceptance of the paper. We hope this account will convince some scientists and funding organizations to revoke their acceptance of impact factors as an accurate representation of the quality—or impact—of a paper published in a given journal.

Despite this people cling to impact factors. But it doesn’t make sense to put a linear ordering people, papers, or entire journals.

Neuroeconomics of trust

An interesting paper by Paul J. Zak: (local copy).

Some quotes:

The Zak & Knack model shows that trust is directly related to economic growth by reducing transaction costs and facilitating investment. Empirically, trust is among the powerful factors economists have discovered that promote growth. The analysis in Zak & Knack (2001) shows that a 15 percentage point increase in the proportion of people in a country who think others are trustworthy raises income per person by 1% per year for every year thereafter. For example, if trust in the U.S. increased from its current level of 36% to 51%, average income would rise by about $400 per year thereafter due to the additional business investment and job creation. The impact of trust on living standards is quantitatively large; $400 per year corresponds to an additional $30,000 in average lifetime income.

Zak & Knack (2001) also show that if trust is sufficiently low (below 30% for the average country in Figure 1), then the investment rate will be so low that living standards will stagnate or even decline. This “poverty trap” is primarily due to ineffective formal institutions that result in low levels of generalized trust. The model shows that the threshold level of trust necessary for positive economic growth is increasing in per capita income. As a result, it appears to be difficult to escape from a low-trust poverty trap without outside intervention.