by Tyler Cowen
on January 12, 2011 at 11:33 am
1. Do chess grandmasters use twice the brain?
2. Chomsky (?) on postmodernism.
3. Why they bench NBA starters with a lot of fouls.
4. Curation makes a comeback.
5. NYT bestseller list when I was born; check your date here.
5. Most interesting.
I found that I had read two of the books and knew of one other from my list.
Chomsky (?)'s letter could have been written in under five sentences.
That sounds like Chomsky. Gratuitous quotation marks and all. He's also written quite negative articles for lefty websites about anti-science "theory" nonsense. Outside of linguistics, its about the only subject I agree with him on.
I'd guess that the chess masters were using the right hemisphere to read the overall gestalt of the board. That's where they get much of their advantage, they've learned to read the board as a whole rather than having to calculate each position piece by piece.
3. OK, let's suppose NBA stars in foul trouble don't play their best game. The real question is, do they play worse than the person who replaces them?
Fouls can be induced or faked, so a star in trouble can be "eliminated" in this fashion – one less resource in the crucial last minutes of a close game.
By taking the player out, you're giving him rest and putting him in when there's more information available about the probability of winning. The last minute strategy also change.
Measure whether a star who is left in plays fewer minutes than the star who sits out for a while.
Too bad the chessboard in the article is set up incorrectly (with the black king on a black square).
Chomsky, you can at least respect. You might sometimes wonder, "what color is the sky on his planet?", but hey, he's engaged and active on the ground, not adrift in outer space. He cares, deeply, about ideas and principles and people and their fates.
Here he's speaking truth to vapor: gentlemen, your body of work has no value. Good for him. But he should be shouting it from the rooftops, not sitting back content to let his 15-year-old comments circulate in semi-samizdat form. Why so disengaged here, when this is not his style in most other domains? Why not spend some of his "credibility capital" within academic circles and forthrightly denounce this navel-gazing Lysenkoism of the humanities?
Chomsky presumably finds that crowd a waste of time. Most of his message there is explaining why he doesn't engage with those kind of thinkers.
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