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“Data Monkeys”: A Procedural Model of Extrapolation from Partial Statistics

Spiegler, R; (2017) “Data Monkeys”: A Procedural Model of Extrapolation from Partial Statistics. The Review of Economic Studies , 84 (4) pp. 1818-1841. 10.1093/restud/rdx004. Green open access

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Abstract

I present a behavioural model of a “data analyst” who extrapolates a fully specified probability distribution over observable variables from a collection of statistical data sets that cover partially overlapping sets of variables. The analyst employs an iterative extrapolation procedure, whose individual rounds are akin to the stochastic regression method of imputing missing data. Users of the procedure’s output fail to distinguish between raw and imputed data, and it functions as their practical belief. I characterize the ways in which this belief distorts the correlation structure of the underlying data generating process—focusing on cases in which the distortion can be described as the imposition of a causal model (represented by a directed acyclic graph over observable variables) on the true distribution.

Type: Article
Title: “Data Monkeys”: A Procedural Model of Extrapolation from Partial Statistics
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/restud/rdx004
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1093/restud/rdx004
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Review of Economic Studies Limited. This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Bounded rationality, Non-rational expectations, Belief extrapolation, Data analysts, Missing data, Imputation, Bayesian networks, Running intersection property, Maximum entropy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1576497
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