In general, I am suspicious when someone dismisses a view for being “radical” or “extreme.” There is usually sloppy thinking behind that designation. Why not just say what is wrong with the view? How for instance are we supposed to feel about “radical Christianity”? Good or bad? Does it mean Origen or Ted Cruz or something altogether different? Can’t we just debate the question itself?
The same is true in politics. Let’s say someone favors free trade and the First Amendment. Is that “radical”? Or is it mainstream and thus non-radical? Does labeling it radical further the debate on whether or not those are the correct positions?
Good stuff here. I appreciate the range and pace. It’s a little bit obnoxious, too, but better that than boring.
TYLER COWEN: It’s like Beach Boys music. Sounds optimistic on the surface but it’s deeply sad and melancholy.
PETER THIEL: I remember a professor once told me back in the ’80s that writing a book was more dangerous than having a child because you could always disown a child if it turned out badly.
PETER THIEL: I think often the smarter people are more prone to trendy, fashionable thinking because they can pick up on things, they can pick up on cues more easily, and so they’re even more trapped by it than people of average ability.
If you read a book, how many other related or similar books does it make you order? […] If you don’t end your read with some additional book orders, maybe you need to ask yourself what exactly went wrong.
And this is worth pondering:
How about a book review outlet which refuses to consider the books under consideration, but rather considers and evaluates what they will induce you to read next?
A lot of jobs will consist of making people feel either very good or very bad about themselves.
One enduring feature of the art world is that a given piece will sell for much more in one context rather than another. The same painting that might sell for 5k from a lower tier dealer won’t command more than 2k on eBay, if that. Yet it could sell for 10k, as a bargain item, relatively speaking, if it ended up in the right NYC gallery (which it probably wouldn’t). Where does Amazon stand in this hierarchy? It doesn’t look promising.
The Cookbook Theory of Economics – By Tyler Cowen | Foreign Policy. Cookbooks as a proxy for economic development…
Soon it will be possible to cook the dishes of the entire world, but only those, alas, that survive the process of commercialization and standardization.
Q: What are the incentives you think artists are responding to?
Money and fame and sex—the same as always—but now there’s a difference. You can’t perfect your masterwork for 20 years. There’s a bit of a hurry. There’s a sense that things are changing. You can end up obsolete.
Q: How about from the audience perspective? How different is consuming art versus other consumption?
I think it’s changed enormously in the last 10 years. You see it in movie theaters, but it’s everywhere: people text or tweet and don’t pay full attention. They’re in some ways quite fussy. The attitude is, I’m already in control of my own informational life and entertainment. What else can you bring to the table? Not in a hostile way, but in an entirely legitimate “what have you got for me?” way. A lot of creators aren’t really up to it.
Many commentators are framing the matter in terms of raising or lowering the relative status of aid recipients. So it’s the aspiring student, the virtuous retiree, and the brave veteran, rather than the irresponsible bums. That’s a distraction (albeit a legitimate correction), as the real question is whether the political equilibrium is shifting toward takers. That’s takers as roles in particular political struggles, not individuals with “taker” stamped on their foreheads.
Various forms of crony capitalism arguably are on the rise. Is the political influence of the issue-specific takers, relative to the issue-specific makers, a growing problem in American politics? What does the evidence actually suggest?
Taking a moment to hunt for an interpretation that makes an argument good — before you denounce it as a bad argument — is a nice heuristic that forestalls the tempting leap from “There exists an interpretation that makes this a bad argument, but it may not be what he had in mind,” to “This is a bad argument!”
The laughing and the smiling will set in. Beware! That’s when you need to stop going.
It’s an odd feature about the way human beings work that there are many things that we’re interested in that we don’t know if it’s acceptable to be interested in them. […] I think that’s the role of many, many art forms–to legitimate certain questions and certain sensitivities.
Sociological approaches to cultural taste often imply that taste differences are contrived, artificial, or reflect wasteful status-seeking. The result is that we appreciate taste differences less than we might and we become less curious. Neurological approaches imply that different individuals perceive different cultural mysteries and beauties. You can’t always cross the gap to understand the other person’s point of view, but at the very least you know something is there worth pursuing.
I was born in 1962 which was like the end of an era of breakthroughs. The moon walk, wow! That was exciting. Maybe it didn’t lead to anything, but we were all stunned. We saw it as a kid. I was like seven and thought “oh my god, this is awesome!” and you are like “science brought us this” and everyone was like “woah, science,” and then you have this long period of science not bringing that much and I think some of that status just went away. I can understand why.
Stories, to work, have to be simple, easily grasped, easily told to others, easily remembered. So stories will serve dual and conflicting purposes, and very often they will lead us astray.
I attempt to explain how this came about, in the podcast and in one chapter of my forthcoming book An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies.
I will read this book.