[Andrew Morriss (guest-blogging), August 22, 2005 at 5:25pm] Trackbacks
Cat litter:

A paper I coauthored with the Mercatus Center's Susan Dudley on the history of the regulation of silica dust and the problems regulators face in defining exactly what it is they are regulating is available on SSRN. Silica is a big component in cat litter (hence the header) and some feared that the hazards of silicosis would result in skull & crossbones warnings on bags of cat litter. By posting about it here, I hope to drive up my downloads, and hence enhance Case's academic reputation through a higher SSRN ranking. Thus I am actually posting on my assigned topics.

OK, time for this guy to go... It's been real.

If you don't have a follow-up post in about 3 days saying that SSRN is a sham because a blog posting singlehandedly catapulted a stupid paper on cat litter chemicals to the top of the standings, then I'm calling "off-topic" on this one.

I think the definition of an on-topic post is about the same as the definition of a good joke or a legitimate costume -- if you have to explain why a joke is funny, what a halloween costume depicts, or why a post is on-topic, it's probably not.
8.22.2005 6:51pm
Andy Morriss (mail):
Well, I hope it cat-apults it to the top!

Is SSRN a sham? I don't think so, regardless of the impact of this post. SSRN rankings are far from perfect -and some very good points were made about them in an earlier comment section. But they have a lot of advantages, which Black and Caron list in their paper (link in earlier post). One of the key ones is that they reflect actual behavior (people downloading stuff) rather than the survey evidence US News uses. Is one completely better than the other? Nope. But would using SSRN rankings data to evaluate law faculties' quality be better than not using it? Probably - especially since if it was used, there'd be a lot more stuff on SSRN. And, over time, SSRN is getting better and better.
8.22.2005 6:59pm
Eric Wilner (mail) (www):
You're worried about cat litter? Consider the risks of a trip to the beach!
Once upon a time, I came across an official MSDS for sand ("sea sand, washed") which was completely over the top in terms of recommended protective gear - I think it was based on the precautions for fumed silica, just not taking into account the fact that washed sand is not so readily inhaled.
That one seems to have gone away, but this one is moderately alarming. Remember to wear your goggles, lab coat, and gloves to the beach. Or... maybe those Islamic swimwear people are on to something?
(Hey, I didn't know quartz was a carcinogen! How come the beaches in California don't have Prop. 65 warnings posted?)
8.22.2005 8:28pm
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
Nobody has ever lost their job for filing one more MSDS than was necessary... but the reverse has certainly happened. Which is why you find them for beach sand, talc powder, and water. (These were pulled from a DOD database maintained over at Cornell.)
8.22.2005 11:14pm