In my pile

by on April 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm in Books | Permalink

Jonathan Schlefer, The Assumptions Economists Make.

Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent, by Edward Luce.   Here is his recent essay, related to the book.

Carl H. Nightingale, Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities.

Ruchir Sharma, Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles.

Chris Mooney, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science — and Reality.

Non-Google digital library in the works, connected with Robert Darnton.

Willitts April 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm

5. The book review by M. Hanson is sufficient to save you $17.13.

AC April 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

#2: the essay link just goes to the same Amazon page

Tyler Cowen April 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm
Anon April 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

If you are thinking that Chris Mooney is another Jonathan Haidt, you may be disappointed.

Willitts April 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Ain’t that the truth. Haidt is a fascinating character.

The end of the Bush presidency put a huge dent in liberal book sales.

Mooney is down there with Michael Savage on political rhetoric except Mooney pretends a greater claim to science. Savage has a PhD in Ethnobiology and is a published author in botany. Mooney has a bachelors degree in English. He doesn’t know sh from shinola.

TGGP April 10, 2012 at 12:11 am

I did not know that about Mooney. Now I will chuckle whenever he writes about science. I did know that Michael Savage is a quack.

Checking wikipedia, it is Savage’s masters that is in medical botany. His phd is in medical anthropology.

So Much For Subtlety April 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I am actually quite impressed that someone managed to spin out what seemed to me a bad essay on Republicans being stupid into what I would guess is a worse book.

After all, it is not as if Republicans have a monopoly on ignoring bad science. Liberals continue to deny that IQ tests mean anything. Except when they show that Republicans are stupid I suppose. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they don’t show that African Americans are significantly dumber than other people. I think it is entirely possible that they reflect a cultural issue not a genetic one. But that is not quite what the science says is it? The same with women.

Even with Climate change the actual science is more complex than the boosters claim and while Republicans smell a rat, Liberals tend to be overly credulous. I don’t know that you can claim either side is proof of intelligence. The entire environmental movement tends to identify with the Left (despite its Far Right origins in many cases) and yet a large chunk of it is oblivious to the actual science.

I could go on. But the Leftist biases of the publishing industry and deadwood media book reviewers wouldn’t reward me with a publishing deal.

JonF311 April 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I thibk its more correct to say that liberals deny that IQ tests measure anything useful or significant to real life. And really: can you assess a person’s true worth from a single test score?
I really do not get the idolatry shown toward this rather dated test by some on the Right, Though I suspect it’s mainly just self-preening by people that do well on the test who are mightily peeved that the world does bow before them for that reason.

So Much For Subtlety April 8, 2012 at 5:11 pm

One thing that is uncontroversial is that IQ tests predict how well people will do in college. That they do well in one type of test tends to be a good predictor of whether they would do well in another. I would think that is useful and perhaps even significant to real life.

It doesn’t matter if it is a measure of someone’s worth or not. No one is claiming it is. Smart people are not always good people. But it does kind of matter if it predicts intelligence.

Tom April 8, 2012 at 9:36 pm

“can you assess a person’s true worth from a single test score?”

Strawman up, strawman down.

Ted Craig April 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Luce seems weak. He goes on and on about the evils of casinos, to the point of appearing fixated, and then only offers up “Some (studies) show that the effect on the people around the casinos is a net negative. It can also be bad for tax revenues. One study estimated that for every dollar a gaming house invests in an area, three are subtracted by the costs of dealing with its social effects.”

Some, one. Weak.

Mercy Vetsel April 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm

#5 – I wonder if Tyler enjoyed Michael Savage’s similarly titled “Liberalism is Mental Disorder”?

Anyway, I read about two pages which was enough to get the gist of the book which is well described by the only two-star review on Amazon.

Ed April 8, 2012 at 12:07 am

The Luce essay is pretty depressing. I can’t imagine what reading the book would be like.

Most of the comments are of the “of course America is the greatest nation on Earth” ilk except the first comment, where there is a compelling argument that the excellent strategic situation and high natural resources to population ratio of the United States (and this is a case of lots of resources) means it should be OK. But actually this is what worries me. Ottoman Turkey and Qing China were empires with incredibly secure strategic situations, and only lost some outlying provinces as they declined. But as a result, once the decline set in there was no reason for the elites to arrest it. Both empires essentially just kept on declining for centuries.

And I don’t think you need tons of studies to understand the ill effects of gambling.

Ted Craig April 8, 2012 at 8:34 am

But he says there are tons of studies and then only cites the ones that agree with his thesis.

chuck martel April 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

Luce evidently thinks that we should be living in a static, unchanging universe where folks plod off to the steel mill every day and melt iron ore into railroad track or boat anchors and then happily spend their high wages on buttons and bows in classy department stores on bustling Main Street. He should spend more time organizing his Norman Rockwell print collection.

Luce’s essay doesn’t even thinly disguise his affinity with a statist mentality that determines the course of economic development from a leftist perspective. More government activity is needed to counter the economic growth of foreign political entities that are, in many ways, emulating our own success. Republicans are standing in the way of progress by advocating a smaller tax burden and balanced budget.

The subject of gambling is one that he probably should have avoided. Politicians of all stripes are happy to use the power of the state to enable the rent-seeking of casino operators by authorizing gaudy gambling palaces. In a free society, however, ordinary folk would be able to have a couple of slot machines on the front porch that the neighbors could plunk a quarter into on their way down the street. A cockfight on the vacant lot at the end of the block might offend some of the ladies but it could boost amateur beer sales and the losing competitors make good soup. And what’s wrong with amateur beer sales, anyway? Why do we need the government at any level regulating beer, chicken combat, or even steel production?

Ed April 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

The above comment duplicates about half the comments on the FT site. So if you read the above and read the essay, you can skim through or even skip the comments to the original article.

M April 8, 2012 at 6:18 am

5. I wonder if the Mooney book has much to say about this:

http://phys.org/news/2012-03-science-fallen-mid-1970s.html

“Relying on data from the 1974-2010 waves of the nationally representative General Social Survey, the study found that people who self-identified as conservatives began the period with the highest trust in science, relative to self-identified moderates and liberals, and ended the period with the lowest.”

Did the personality profiles of conservatives and liberals change? If so, probably should be wary about talking about these personality profiles as if they are these two sets of personality profiles that are just out there in the world, rather than two sets formed from an unstructured set by the demands of two ideologies. Conservatives in the 1970s were still recognizably conservative, so it would be deeply wrong to propose a deep essentialism here.

Also, on the Amazon link I find the idea that “Republicans more wedded to certainty, Democrats to novelty” as explaining a Republican disinterest in science very odd – surely it’s the people who want certainty who are interested in science, which is about finding out definite, true things about our world? If all you want is novelty, random hypotheses surely fit the bill – actual scientific process is driven by a desire for certainty, to know that “this is the one hypothesis which is actually true”.

Perhaps part of the issue is that our science is getting worse – getting more about novel and surprising hypotheses and findings, which may be essentially wrong or not provable, and less about certainty and actually knowing more stuff. God, look at sociology and psychology and the way that the premium placed on surprising and paradigm breaking results has resulted in recent massive degrees of fraud.

Conservative personality profiles are as driven by a strong positive focus on conscientiousness and desire for order as by a disinterest in novelty – a science which drives away those who are conscientious and are interested in an ordered, rational world, is that a healthy science?

Mercy Vetsel April 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Okay, so this is would be a good point if the Mooney book could be taken seriously. It can’t. Go to Google books and read the first three or four pages and you’ll see that this is a very shallow and highly partisan hack job based on a flawed premise.

Sure Republicans are more likely to believe in creation science, just as Democrats are almost twice as likely to believe that Astrology is scientific (ref: GSS).

Here is an example of what Mooney considers Republican denial of science:

“What’s more, they[conservatives] think it[Obamacare] will increase the federal budget deficit”

Now I suppose if I wanted to be the biggest partisan hack in the world I could write a book exploring what type of pathology would allow Democrats to accept the accounting gimmicks used to make the outrageous claim that $1.5 trillion of new spending plus $0.4 trillion of new taxes would reduce the deficit.

But that would be silly. If anything, the fact that people like Tyler Cowen take this book seriously demonstrate how utterly uninterested the left is in serious, rational debate.

-Mercy

Willitts April 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Mooney has a BA in English. I’d pay more attention to his claims if he actually were a scientist.

He’s a young twit, trying to get wealthy writing books of hatred for the hateful. He’s a left-wing Michael Savage, but without the Biology degrees. Savage never pretended his comments were based on scientific analysis. At best, he made comparisons of group and individual thought and behavioral patterns to those of various personality disorders.

It wouldn’t be out of line to look at John Edwards, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Barack Obama and find traits of narcissism. It would be similarly appropriate to find those traits in Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, John Boehner, Mitt Romney, et al. Possessing narcissistic traits might actually be dominant in politics where vanity, self-importance, unrealistic goals, taking advantage of others, and unwillingness to take blame are prized assets. Mooney is trying to extend these traits to a very diverse class of people.

SpotCash April 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm

re: mooney

be careful of confirmation bias

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