by Tyler Cowen
on December 8, 2012 at 7:59 am
1. We should support rights for the Great Apes.
2. Good Greg Ip remarks on journalism and economics.
3. The cobra effect, and modern Florida and generalized.
4. Excerpts from an interview with me.
5. There is no great stagnation, soap bar edition.
6. Philip Tetlock update.
#3 Don’t think the Cobra effect applies: This is winner takes all and not get paid on a per-python basis.
Some number of competitors might be incentivized to breed or buy pythons in order to maximize their prospects for either prize (longest python and most pythons). Winner-take-all does mean that fewer hunters (ie. those with the best chance – expert hunters) will be incentivized by the competition. But there is also an incentive for competitors to buy kills from noncompetitors – driving the noncompeting hunters to seek more and longer pythons. The relatively small prizes may make such strategies worthless, however.
I’d say one notable component is the bounty is not large enough to encourage rampant cheating. Unlike the rat-tail or Cobra bounties, nobody is going to try to create a living out of python-hunting. It’s also arguably an advertising effort as much as anything: lots of people would hunt burmese pythons for free, but this gives them a nudge (and adds some social prestige to the activity!)
Finally, the contest has a short duration, and it is apparently outside the natural breeding season for these snakes, so I don’t think anyone will try to breed them.
I guess the standard economic wisdom is that instead, you establish a cobra warden for a particular geographical territory, and use incentives based on how few cobras are found in their territory?
1. I am always amazed at the number of well-educated people who don’t realize that we humans are one of the great apes.
I would say they do realize it, but the question is, does it matter?
6. My favorite thing about the Tetlock video is that he converses in fractional probabilities, not in percentages. Something has a “likelihood of 0.7”, not of 70%. I hate percentages.
Your beard looks great. And I have no doubt that you will never color out the grey.
does seem like a revenue pessimist would be too cheap for dyes, but shouldn’t a happiness optimist smile for the camera? … Personally I find the mantra to be a cloaked disequilibrium statement or a farce, but it does make people think.
OK, I’ll bite: why do I need to pay any amount to stick my soap bar slivers together? (Have been doing this for decades. For free. By hand. TGS indeed.)
The great apes already have too many rights.
1. I wonder what the vote break down is looking like on the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act. The article mentions that it was crafted by a Democratic Senator from Washington state, but co-sponsored by a Republican congressman from Maryland. From other articles, it seems like the bill will have strong Democratic support.
Republicans should remember this next time Democrats accuse them of waging a war on science. What hypocrisy.
Republicans should remember what?
To be better polemicists.
For example, try this: “To avoid a new recession, extend the tax cuts for everyone.”
Or even better- “We need to stop political maneuvering and quickly extend the tax cuts for all Americans to avoid a new recession.”
Feel free to forward this to any Republican brains in DC.
Republicans are really bad at polemics.
I think the title for the Great Apes thing is a little misleading. After all, it doesn’t give many reasons why we should support this Bill. Or any.
In fact this seems a particularly terrible piece of legislation. People who used Great Apes for research in the past will now be forced to house them in acceptable accommodation for the rest of said Apes’ natural life spans? Anyone else think this is dumb? Researchers who did something legal and with the best of intentions will now find themselves hit with a massive compensation bill. Great Apes are mainly used for serious diseases that cannot be modeled in other animals. HIV is a good example. So if you spent half your research career trying to find a cure for AIDS you may well spend the next half paying off the costs of what was totally legal to do at the time.
Way to go Congress!
If society as a whole thinks this is wrong then society as a whole should pay the cost. Not the researchers.
Otherwise I would guess they will branch out into brain cancer research in the next few years. You know, something where research is important but few experimental animals survive for long. But I guess we have to decide if HIV research is the sort of thing we want people to be doing.
“Society as a whole” is not a thing that can make decisions.
What you meant to say was “congress” not “society.”
4. Where can I read the entire interview? Why only the excerpts?
From #6: It would be embarrassing if it turns out that thousands of amateurs working on relatively small budgets are able to outperform professionals within a multibillion-dollar bureaucracy. That would be destabilizing. If it turns out that junior analysts within that multibillion-dollar bureaucracy can perform better than people high up in the bureaucracy that would be destabilizing. If it turns out that the CEO is not nearly as good as people two or three tiers down in perceiving strategic threats to the business, that’s destabilizing.
Destabilizing? I don’t think so. Most of these things have been known/suspected for decades and I don’t see any destabilization going on. Quite the contrary.
All of these things are known and have been for some time.
Hierarchies are not based on competence in a skill outside of the skill that made the hierarchies.
This means that hierarchies of power are not based on competence in science/engineering.
#4:So you agree with the government of Bhutan that what matters is “gross domestic happiness” and not increase in the GDP. Or have I misunderstood your view?
For someone concerned about stagnation, I find it surprising you support more limits on animal experimentation. If I had my way I’d make it far easier to do HUMAN experimentation. It will work out badly for some human subjects, but the possible benefits to very large numbers of people makes the expected value quite positive.
Cowen is now famous enough to come out of the closet. He is not a libertarian, he is a conservative, and a rather moderate one. He believes in a limited role for the state and is pro-life. He has even advocated government funding of foreign movies. Maybe he thinks admitting what he really is would compromise hisability to stay neutral in politics, but he is unique enough to offer his insights without being affected by teamspirit.
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