Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 2nd, 2010

Idiosyncrasy in “accreditation”: Academic, Institutions, and States? (Jan. 2, 2010)

In a previous post I described a recent certification process for B enterprises. This article is to provide further explanation on how these “accreditation organizations” are launched, prosper, and fade away. Generally, in societies not centrally controlled, you have, now and then, a few “accredited” members in every discipline or syndicate making waves on the ground that “performance” (ethics, standard of knowledge, training, transparency…) is declining and that the discipline has to be reformed; then, they start a certification process that never goes far because money is generated when an idea catch up with the awareness wave of the public.

For example, the certifying organization that issue B (for benefit) rate to enterprises that sign up to demonstrate that they are socially and environmentally performing has hired 12 employees across the USA to do “random” audits: every two years, a B enterprise has to ask to renew its certification, pay for certification renewal even if it was not audited.  This is how certification organization make money: they get paid for doing nothing after the first issuing of certification for many years until it is discredited for fraud or when the original entrepreneurs are discovered not to be passionate and resilient enough to bar companies’ gimmick of using a certification for “green washing” their image instead of investing on programs with tangible results. The B certification organization is currently working on a budget of $1.5 million and growing exponentially but it has proven to be conscientious and meaning to improve business practices.

Certification organizations enjoy gold mine businesses when supported by political institutions or deep pocket multinationals aiming at destroying independent competitors.  When you hear “accreditation” the first thing that come to mind are academic institutions. Renowned universities expand overseas and extend their names to local universities after submitting to accreditation procedures. It is the process that is interesting because university administration and staff scramble to communicate with one another, concentrate meeting sessions among professors who never talk with one another, encourage emailing ideas, suggestions, programs, result data, graphs, sophisticated presentation gimmicks, gastronomic explorations, touring campaigns, and whatever is necessary to offering a good image to the accreditation team.

In most cases, the accreditation team is enjoying his stay and being paid lavishly for just listening to good natured “professors” who are making a living the harsh way until opportunity knock to participating in accreditation teams. Business is business and no hard feelings are supposed to tarnish a excellent profitable business that parents of student pay for an imaginary piece of paper certifying that their offspring graduated from such a “certified university” and recognized by a developed country. Sure, after graduation the student is automatically admitted to continue his higher education as long as money is available. This naïve student, who never opened a book and barely can write in his own language, is asked to read half a dozen books per week in an exotic language and write analyses of what he read. As if professors are paid to teach! Professors are meant to be “advisors”, mentor, and abuse students to do their own projects contracted out from companies.

I hear that when a professor is awarded the Nobel Prize or any other recognized international award that students are cognizant of then the professor receive a “chair” from the university and maybe a building is named after him or occasionally, a building is erected in his honor.  It is the latest university that gets all the honors and the others academic institutions that taught the “professor” are irrelevant. In return the university expects increase in enrollment: the students want to ogle the “chair” but the chair is empty.  The professor is more comfortable on his rickety chair, in a secluded environment.

We join syndicates such as Real Estates or mortgage loan officers.  We are asked to pass a test before we sign in as members after paying our dues.  The tests are basically about your knowledge of the laws, regulations, and rules of the game. You may pass the test but your lawyer fill have no ground to prove that you are totally stupid to have passed the test. You may end up making money by trial and errors at your own expenses because the tests are not related to acquiring any knowledge of the practice.  People who are not members of syndicates can practice the job and go unpunished because they did not pay money to be punished and learn the laws and regulations!

The same mentality goes to nuclear proliferation signatories. Iran and North Korea mistakenly signed up on that treaty.  India and Israel refused to sign the treaty and they can do whatever they want. Iran and North Korea have to suffer the ignominies of the UN veto members. Treaties are hell that open the doors to superpowers to control your independence with no return for your good will!

Neuro-Economics or homo economicus? (2010)

That’s correct.  It is no longer micro-economics, macro-economics, classical economics, or market economics. 

Two distinct disciplines realized that the time has come to combine their fields of interests into a new “scientific field” that they named Neuro-economics.

Economists were working on customer behavior (for example, how a competing product can acquire market share by evaluating combinations of quality, durability, price, flexibility, availability of affordable spare parts, repair facilities, guarantees, loaning facilities, perception of the external characteristics, varieties in color, and on.

A new breed of psychologists, sometimes called neuro-scientists,  are enamored with the technology of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that show brain activities in reaction to a behavior, and they receive ready funds to study economic factors on people behavior.

Neuro-economics is the study of people behavior related to economic games in experiments; it is interested of discovering how cooperation among team player, confidence, equity perception, justice, and punishment affect profitability and trading relationship. For example,

1. there is this game labeled “ultimatum”; you have two partners A and B starting each with a sum of money, say $10.  A offer B a sum of money; B can refuse and both lose the game;

2. B can accept and they continue the game with more complex rules.

MRI can predict B reactions; there is a section in the brain related to “disgust” that will light up when B has decided to refuse the offer.

There is another section in the brain related to “satisfaction” that will light up, especially when alternatives to punish non-cooperating partners are included in the game.

Another example,

If A has total confidence in his partner B then he may give B all his money. B receive five folds the sum that he has.

Theoretically, both partners have a joint account of $50 by simply showing confidence.  B can reciprocate confidence or do business solo with $50.

Well, these sort of games…  They are just psychological games with economic incentives.

Now, suppose the experimenter tell the subjects that whatever money being circulated are real money and they can keep them after the game , do you think previous behaviors will alter?

I bet they would, but experiments never mention this major defect in their game procedures.

For example, in the game of confidence, if money is not for the keeps then partners should logically proceed with total confidence and amass tons of money by reciprocating total confidence; that should be a silly game if the goal is to win just the game.

Actually, all normal teams will behave the same behavior and nobody will ever win.

Now, if money was to be retained as cash after the game then interesting and varied behaviors will be witnessed.

I lean toward the conjecture that subjects are told that the money is for real and for the keep, but this fact is never stated in research papers.

Otherwise, scientists will be chastised as encouraging gambling; possibly a few partners will be using physical means to get their share if they lose, and liability suits will flood and wreck the department.

I suggest that losers in the games be compensated with real money after the experiment: you don’t want experiments to be sources of animosities among subjects.

My hypothesis is that if real money reaches the level of hundreds of dollars then the experiment with MRI will become totally non-informative: the brain will emulate Time Square on New Year Eve, and every kind of human emotions in the subject will want to participate in the experiment and react with powerful activation.

Neuro-economics has demonstrated that the brain readily recognizes a valid currency, like the defunct Franc from the new Euro currency. How so?

The brain process money as real object and not a cultural abstraction.  Interesting results with no practical application; just another proof that homo sapience preceded homo-economicus.




January 2010

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