Pareto laws and expected income

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2005 12:15:21 +1000

I retract an earlier agreement with Jonathon that the expected income
argument is the same as the "Why I am not Chinese argument". They are
not, for the simple expedient that ones income does not affect your
chances of birth (if there is any effect, it would be a negative one
with your parent's wealth). In the "Why am I not Chinese" argument,
the population of your country of birth is indexical.

My expected income is a complicated function of my life's history, it
may have some bearing on things like my innate intelligence, and my
parent's wealth, but the problem is so multifactorial it is
inappropriate to use anthropic reasoning.

What it does show is what an ass the ASSA is. It is unreasonable to
suppose that my current wealth is sampled randomly from the
distribution of al wealths (a Pareto distribution like P(x)=x^a, for
some a).

A more interesting point that Jonathon Colvin could have made was
questioning why ones IQ is so high. It is a reasonable speculation
that the IQ of people on this list would usually be far above average
(IQ=100 by definition). Of course, that is selective effects of this
list. But one can also ask why in anthropic reasoning is my IQ in the
top part of the distribution (I don't know my IQ, but I'm sure I'm in
the tail :). The answer is that if you consider all possible
congenital characteristics (eg country of birth, parents wealth,
intelligence, skill at playing ball, etc.), there is very likely one
or two chracteristics that are extreme. In my case it happens to be
intelligence. My family's income was below average (for Australia that
is, but probably more on a par with world average, actually)

So that is not so strange really. However, when it comes to sampling
indexical quantities (eg birth rates or population sizes), anthropic
arguments take on a particular force, than sampling non-indexical


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A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 8308 3119 (mobile)
Mathematics                         	       0425 253119 (")
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Received on Mon Jun 20 2005 - 22:56:11 PDT

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