Do we need *more* radical Islam? – Marginal REVOLUTION

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?

Do we need *more* radical Islam? – Marginal REVOLUTION

Peter Thiel on the Future of Innovation

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.

And also:

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.

And also:

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.

Etc.

Peter Thiel on the Future of Innovation

The Amazon order test as an algorithm for evaluating books

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?

The Amazon order test as an algorithm for evaluating books

Is Amazon Art a doomed venture? Let’s hope so

Is Amazon Art a doomed venture? Let’s hope so

What is art in the internet age? | Yale Insights

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.

What is art in the internet age? | Yale Insights

Makers vs. takers

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?

Filed under: arguments. Cf. Charitable arguing:

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!”

Makers vs. takers

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.

Alain de Botton in Philosophy Bites. This reminds me of some of Tyler Cowen’s arguments in The Age of the Infovore:

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.

BrightestYoungThings: Futurenomics: The Tyler Cowen Interview

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.

BrightestYoungThings: Futurenomics: The Tyler Cowen Interview

[Transcript] Tyler Cowen on Stories – Less Wrong Discussion

I’ve long thought of Cowen’s talk as a must-listen and listened to it multiple times. And now it’s been transcribed. And thus, a must-read. Filed under: storytelling.

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.

[Transcript] Tyler Cowen on Stories – Less Wrong Discussion