by Tyler Cowen
on October 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm
in Uncategorized |
1. How is Amazon art-selling working out?
2. Interview on fossil fuels.
3. Dating markets in everything.
4. Redux: Bryan Caplan on the ideological Turing test. Ross Douthat passes the test in his why the Right fights. Josh Barro passes the test. Many others are failing the test.
5. Squirrels instead of birds? And will these Korean robots stop the jellyfish invasion?
6. Caught by favoring Mises? On-line drug dealers should be more cautious and perhaps spend more time with Hayek.
#6 I like how in his LinkedIn profile he writes, “I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind…To that end, I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.”
And then he hires hitmen to take out two guys.
Aha, but rich people employing hitmen to shoot you is not systemic, you see. After all, if you really cared about staying alive, you would have the money to hire your own hitmen. Rub your face in all that freedom.
You could argue that that was in self defense. After all the targeted persons were threatening the use of force against Silk Road customers.
Is it even possible to argue otherwise?
I’m pretty sure the government will argue otherwise.
*he hires hitmen
I should have added allegedly.
1) There’s only evidence of one hit. The second hit comes from him saying something like “last time I ordered one of these it was a lot cheaper.” That sounds a lot more like a negotiation tactic than an admission of guilt.
2) The hitmen he hired and the extortionist who was the target were both undercover government agents.
4. I think the real problem is Krugman doesn’t know why he’d fail the test, let alone that he doesn’t know he would, despite him more than once saying he would on purpose.
Hm, I can’t imagine why Prof. Cowen led off with that link to #1? Anyone have any ideas?
That fossil fuels interview was fascinating – ‘Our trade balance will be coming into order and markets already see this.’
Or we could read this from the EIA – ‘The United States relied on net imports (imports minus exports) for about 40% of the petroleum (crude oil and petroleum products) that we consumed in 2012. Just over half of these imports came from the Western Hemisphere. Our dependence on foreign petroleum has declined since peaking in 2005.
The United States consumed 18.6 million barrels per day (MMbd) of petroleum products during 2012, making us the world’s largest petroleum consumer. The United States was third in crude oil production at 6.5 MMbd. Crude oil alone, however, does not constitute all U.S. petroleum supplies. Significant gains occur because crude oil expands in the refining process, liquid fuel is captured in the processing of natural gas, and we have other sources of liquid fuel, including biofuels. These additional supplies totaled 4.8 MMbd in 2012.’ http://www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/article/foreign_oil_dependence.cfm
So, ‘refinery gains’ are a source of oil production not recognized by anyone else’s statistical measurements, biofuels are equal to oil (leaving aside just how much oil is required to grow and process corn, which is a nice style of double counting), and natural gas is, reasonably enough compared to the first two, included in petroleum products. But look at the figure of 6.5 MMbd compared to consumption of 18.6 MMbd – and then recognize that peak true American crude production was at 9,637 MMbd in 1970 – http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MCRFPUS2&f=A
In other words, to get back to our yearly highest production, we need to increase crude production 50% using resources that were never economic in the age of cheap oil. And even after that increase, we are still needing to import over 4 MMbd of crude.
Anyone thinking that shale resources will replace crude oil, or even keep up with declining conventional production, should peruse some EIA information.
Though don’t read the press releases without being critical, as the following paragraphs illustrate –
‘The United States imported 11.0 MMbd of crude oil and refined petroleum products in 2012. We also exported 3.2 MMbd of crude oil and petroleum products, so our net imports (imports minus exports) equaled 7.4 MMbd.
In 2012, the United States imported 2.1 MMbd of petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, and other products while exporting 3.1 MMbd of products, making the United States a net exporter of petroleum products. ‘
See how that works? We imported 7.4 MMbd of crude per day, every day. But because we imported refined petroleum products at 2.1 MMbd and exported 3.1 MMbd in return, we are a net exporter.
As long as we ignore how much crude we actually import, and will continue to import if consumption stays constant, we are looking like the next Saudi Arabia.
If Prudhoe Bay coming online didn’t make anything more than a bump in declining American crude production, it takes a certain interesting perspective to think that shale oil will be even more bountiful.
As for natural gas? Another, and much more complicated story – though not in the purview of a piece originally written for OilPrice.com.
Nice analysis. I am disappointed The Oil Drum went offline where people used to discuss this stuff. What I recall from years of reading (I’m not in the field) is that supply and demand imbalances in energy are very small –a 3% imbalance is huge–so a little extra energy that temporarily is found somewhere drops the prices dramatically (or vice versa, a bit of hording or panic buying spikes prices). This explains why fracking has driven down energy prices so quickly, and/or stabilized the price from reaching $200/bbl. But as populations grow, this will change for the worse. Peak Oil is not finished–far from it. The solution? If you’re read my comments by now you know there’s a magic bullet out there, called “reforming our patent laws”. Nuclear fusion in the form of hand held generators, very doable.
The oil drum mostly peddled nonsense rumors, panics, and hysteria backed up with poor economics.
Nuclear fusion in the form of hand held generators, very doable.
Not from anything I’ve ever read. Even for a weapon.
For somebody named Watts, you know little about energy. Fusion is density dependent, so yes in theory and in practice (Google Inertial confinement fusion (ICF)) you can build a nuclear hand grenade, and thus a portable generator. As for the Oil Drum, it was a free for all and there was information there, albeit lots of heat too. Flame on Gas Peakers!
ICF has not worked in practice. It has been a tier one lab trick that, as of yet, has not been practical in the slightest.
I know enough to avoid calling Inertial confinement fusion, “very doable”.
On OkCupid, #3: “I’ve been using OkCupid for just over a year now, and it’s pretty disconcerting to think men have the ability to filter me out by my body type.”
Because you would rather they spend an additional 30 seconds per person to click-through and examine your pictures in order to filter you out by your body type? (30 seconds)(hundreds of women) = (big time cost) which you don’t bear. And nobody should be surprised that the marginal benefit of suspending big-thighs judgment and reading another line of “I’m a laid back, fun loving girl and love my family and friends,” is much smaller than the marginal cost.
No no no, don’t you understand? Only women should have the ability to filter men for the criteria they want. How dare men have preferences and standards.
In post-reality America, women are far more likely to be surprised by biology than men. That’s striking because women have always been the more practical half of the species.
They don’t seem to have a problem with being able to screen by income.
With all the sour grapes in that article, they might as well make some wine. Oh, wait. They already did.
Also, note the cognitive dissonance at the end: Fat people make much better lovers, but people are obviously only going to use this feature to search for thin people.
Barro passes? By explaining that the right doesn’t know what it wants? I don’t think a single Republican member of Congress would associate himself with Barro’s analysis, so he clearly fails any sort of properly defined Turing test.
If Barro passes, I could pass by saying, “Basically, liberals hate America. That’s why Bill Ayres was building bombs, to kill Americans; that’s why the leftist faculty members rewarded him with a tenured professorship; that’s why Obama palled around with him in Hyde Park. They all hate America.”
I can’t figure out why the test has any value in this sense. What good is a test that can only be passed by describing people in terms they want to hear?
I don’t know that “the test” has any value. There’s not a well-defined test.
But the concept of “I understand the opinions I do not agree with” has value, and the way you should think of it is not “could I describe other people in terms they agree with,” but “could I successfully predict what policies the other people want, including fine-grained stuff about what parts of what policies they want, and why”?
Perhaps. But then Douthat, if taken seriously, would seem to predict that Republicans would vote against Medicare Part D(as an example). That’s not historically accurate, so he doesn’t actually pass
Well Representative Stutzman clearly states that he doesn’t know what he wants, so Barro’s analysis is right on the money there.
They want a couple fairly innocuous concessions. Obama and the Senate Democrats don’t want to give them a couple fairly innocuous concessions.
Well, if the passing the test means finding an isolated, ambiguous quote from someone and repeating it along with the most damaging interpretation possible,* then Barro passes. Krugman could pass on that basis too. I could pass, for instance, by noting that Al Gore once referred to “his loathing for the military,” and the Michella Obama said during the campaign that for the first time in her life, she was proud of America, and explaining how the guiding principles of the left are loathing for the military and being ashamed of America.
*A more sympathetic, and indeed more plausible, interpretation of Stutzman’s statement is that he isn’t sure exactly what compromise might be acceptable to both sides, but that there has to be some compromise rather than the unconditional surrender that the Democrats are currently demanding.
And Barro is off on there not being an electoral rationale for it all. Here it is:
Primary election activists (read: tea party) know what you say and love the position taking. General election voters aren’t paying attention that much, but they will notice in the long run when programs they support are cut and will punish Republicans accordingly. There you go.
Plus, once you throw institutional veto points into the equation, the whole analysis comes apart. Even when Republicans had full control of government, they did no have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, so all proposals had to account for that. There was also the ploy by top Repubs to try to create a permanent majority similar to what Dems had from New Deal to the 80′s. But that’s not what’s going on now.
I don’t see how Barro passes or comes close to it. He sounds just like a Liberal does when they explain what a Conservative thinks. Seriously Tyler did you even read his column in context?
Some choice bits:
“Conservatives Are Angry Because They Have No Idea What They Want”
“In one of many pieces of psychoanalysis that have come out this week (because what other way is there to understand House Republicans?”
“They think the government is too way big but they’re not in favor of specific ways to make it much smaller. And when the resulting incoherence of their agenda becomes clear, they get angry, because they have no idea what the hell they are doing.”
“Lately, what’s filled the vacuum is scorched-earth opposition to anything Barack Obama wants.”
In what universe are those statements going to make someone “think” they came from a Conservative? That’s what the test is. This guy is not going to be able to fake it. Or even come close.
Tyler is evidently laboring under the misapprehension that Barro or Douthat are conservatives in economic terms. Douthat is a social conservative but very liberal in economics, Barro is mostly just incoherent but his opinions are more often in line with Krugman’s than opposed. In fact, Tyler’s misapprehension is soooo wrong it fails a Turing test of its own. If you can’t even pick a conservative out of a line up, how can you declare that they pass or fail Turing tests?
Tyler is also mistaken that the arguments they made are “liberal” in nature. They are anti-conservative arguments or, at least, anti-Republican politician arguments but they are not liberal arguments. Barro and Douthat attack conservative politicians for hypocracy and ineffectiveness. Are those liberal arguments?
“Many others are failing the test”
They aren’t taking the test.
To pass the Turing test, you must articulate not only what the other side thinks, but convincingly make the case that it is rational for them to think that way. Because the other side thinks they’re being rational.
I myself would fail such a test. Anybody who thinks modern American liberalism is a good track to be on hasn’t studied much Western history, and I can’t bring myself to pretend otherwise.
Charity, magnanimity, moral righteousness – these are all attractive traits to have when attracting a mate.
Anybody who thinks modern American liberalism is a good track to be on hasn’t studied much Western history
Yes, you fail. That is a ridiculous statement. You can argue that liberals have drawn the wrong lessons from history, but to say that liberals haven’t studied much history is prima facie nonsense given that many historians tend to be liberal if not outright leftists.
#4 Liberals, as defined by Douthat (and apparently MR), seem to have wildly different views than me, someone who would never even consider voting Republican (or independent due to it being a waste) due to the Republican Party’s behavior over the past few years. His view of liberals is also pretty wild, since I’m pretty sure my voting preferences must qualify me, and I would have no problem with shrinking many aspects of the government, and I can actually name them. Does Douthat really vote Republican if he believes what he writes?
Good point. His idea of ‘liberal’ is just a caricature.
Tyler-what about Douthat’s piece counts as passing?
Since Douthat was talking about Conservative, I don’t know what you two are referring to?
Agreed. At first, I thought that neither Douthat nor Barro passed the Turing Test because no conservative would believe that they correctly describe conservative views. (On the other hand, because I thought that the 80s and 90s were a period when conservatism was ascendant, according to Douthat I’m not conservative so maybe I can’t really judge what conservatives would think of his ideas.) Now, that Derek and Corey think that Douthat is a conservative that fails to describe liberal views correctly, maybe Tyler was onto something. Is failing both the conservative and liberal Turing Tests equivalent to passing both?
Let me take a shot at the Turing Test with respect to the shutdown.
Conservative: Obamacare is a gross expansion of the entitlement state at a time when existing entitlements are already spiraling out of control. The House has the constitutional power to initiate all spending legislation, a fundamental feature of the separation of powers and system of checks and balances. Thus, it is perfectly legitimate for the House to pass all spending laws necessary to keep the government open but not pass the legislation necessary to fund Obamacare. If Obama and the Senate block those spending bills, then they are the ones that are shutting down the government to compel the House to fund Obamacare, despite what the liberally-biased mainstream media may report. It’s illogical to accuse the House of using a shutdown to “coerce” the Democrats into defunding Obamacare because the House can refrain from initiating the legislation necessary to fund Obamacare without the Democrats’ cooperation. Thus, it is the Democrats that need to use a shutdown as leverage to coerce the House into initiating the legislation to fund Obamacare. The fact that the mainstream media does not report the matter this way is evidence of their liberal bias. Because the media has a liberal bias, conservatives cannot allow the mainstream media to determine our agenda.
Liberal: Universal health care has been the most glaring omission from our social welfare system, and after decades of trying we have finally achieved it. It is unlikely that we will have a filibuster-proof Senate, control of the House, and control of the Presidency simultaneously anytime in the foreseeable future. Thus, we must find a way to implement Obamacare, even if it requires accepting a government shutdown for an extended period. Based on the shutdown experience in the 90s, the Republicans will likely suffer more political damage from a shutdown than we will and, while the practical effects of a government shutdown on people’s lives may be undesirable, it would be much worse to go without Obamacare.
I think that if I were to submit the above comments to a conservative and liberal blog, respectively, very few would disagree with them. Many might describe things in other terms that make themselves heroic saints and the other side as evil villains, but I don’t think many would disagree with my comments.
2. Good answer on the JPM trading issues as far as impact. The (alleged and highly speculative) allegations were for manipulation of the make-whole payments associated with marginal rankine cycle generation scheduled for day-ahead delivery. It certainly appears to me that this is another case of the criminalization of aggressive commercial behavior in a circumstance where the primary regulator (CALISO) propagated unclear rules, which were subsequently revised (multiple times) in the face of such commercial behavior. If FERC didn’t have a section that essentially acts as a profit center in the pursuit of such claims, I doubt if the case would have ever been made–and it could have easily been settled as a commercial dispute between JPM and CALISO.
I suspect TC is referring to Douthat talking about Republicans he happens to disagree with.
I don’t understand. How do Douthat and Barro, both conservatives, pass the test by making conservative arguments?
dbeach would be offering a good analysis except neither Douthat or Barro are economic conservatives (Douthat is a social conservative but virtually a socialist on economics, Barro was a prominent supporter of Krugman’s own “trillion dollar coin” idea) and they are both trashing conservative politicians for hypocracy and ineffectuality in economic policy.
Nevertheless, as Caplan might say, he is on to something. Tyler? What did you have in mind here?
To be pedantic, Tyler cannot assign anyone a “pass” on a Turing test if he already knows their identity. And neither Barro nor Douthat are pretending to be something, meaning they’re not even taking a Turing test.
Because Douthat could if he wanted to, as evidenced by his explanation, which strikes me as the best thing I’ve read in a while.
I don’t think Barro makes much sense – definitely not Turing worthy…
I think the reason the Republicans seem more “stuck” than the Democrats is that they have the harder problem.
Making Turing compatible assumptions: Suppose you have a good diagnosis of some large entrenched, but problematic program A and a solid idea of how a significantly restructured, smaller, better directed program B would look. But if B isn’t just a tweak of A, you don’t just need a good B, but also a responsible way to manage ‘A to B’.
The problem then becomes ‘how to undo A so that it turns into B, without crashing horribly in the middle’. The bigger and more entrenched A is, the more X Y and Z depend on A working a certain way and the harder ‘A to B’ is. B might be well founded and many voters approve of it. But ‘A to B’ is complicated, imperfect, feels risky….
So you campaign on the B ‘vision’, but end up arguing on the margins of A.
It’s a really broken jenga game: When it’s their turn, Republicans are trying to take out some sticks without the whole thing falling down. When it’s their turn, the Democrats are trying to add sticks without the whole thing falling down. So the game feels unfair and not to play.
I think Barro makes sense but that his column would fail the Turing test. Then again, his column isn’t written with the Turing test in mind so grading it as against such is pointless. If Barro wanted to write a column to convince conservatives that he was one of them, he might be able to do so.
Thoughts on #3 as a premium OKC user:
1. Most of the filtering is over self-reported descriptions, ie people choose to call themselves “full-figured” instead of “average”. The self-reported weight is cheap talk constrained only by online profile pictures. Equilibrium: no one I know who has the premium service sorts based on weight.
2. The rating on stars is slightly better from a user’s perspective because it is data-driven and not based on self-response BUT still a weak signal. This is the area of most interest/concern and where I would do research if I had their data. There are lots of reasons to think that star ratings are uninformative but there is probably some assortative matching advantages of this filter.
3. Looks?! In my dating and romance market!?! Why I never!
If I were still on the market, I’d probably switch to Tinder. Cuts through all the BS
But people simply lie … This filter is thus worthless
I’m struggling with figuring out which test it is that Barro passes. Barro opposed the cuts to SNAP. Too right wing for the NY moderate Republican. That was two weeks ago. Now, it’s only a 5% reduction, nothing at all radical. At this rate, a random word generator might pass the Barro Turing test.
So Caplan’s argument is that he’s a better liar than Krugman?
His argument is that someone asked Krugman if he’d studied any Austrian Business Cycle Theory Krugman would say it would be as useful to him as studying the Phlogiston theory of fire (despite all the similarities I see between it and his newly adopted appreciation for Minsky) and then Krugman would with a straight face say that he knows more libertarian theory than his opponents know his theories (despite a nobody like me trivially proving him wrong previously in this sentence).
Isn’t it a little easy to prove somebody wrong when you get to put the words in their mouth?
Tyler is evidently unfamilar with conservatives and their arguments. Douthat is very much a social conservative but his NYT piece is not directed to arguments in favor of abortion (which would at least be a Turing test candidate for him). Douthat is no conservative in economics and is no more in favor of rolling back the New Deal than Krugman. I don’t know what to call Barro but he is certainly not a conservative.
But even if they were conservatives, the arguments they are making are fundamentally conservative in nature. Both argue that conservative politicians, today and yesterday, are hypocrits and/or ineffective because they have failed to put conservative ideas in action. Conservatives have been making this same point for years. That Douthat stole his basic idea from the David Frum from book should have been a clue (the idea is not original with Frum either). It is part of liberal mythology that conservatives are zombies or sheep, unable to think for themseleves or criticise their leaders. Of course, Tyler might claim that the ability of these non-conservatives to steal arguments from a book written by a conservative (at the time) shows that they have passed the test. It seems to me, however, that basing a Turing test on the ability to trash conservatives like a conservative would is rather cheap grace.
+1, good points all around
Douthart blows it on moderates- both writers carve the turkey inappropriately.
Today, New Deal means, basically, Social Security. Fixing Social Security, by itself, is child’s play in comparison to other issues. It can be done, it should be done, it will be done. Increase full retirement age.
Reagan never raised a hand against Social Security- he accelerated payroll tax increases.
Ultimately, we will have some form of national health insurance, and hopefully, in a decade or two, it will actually resemble insurance. But right now, there is nothing like an honest reckoning of the cost.
However, defunding Obamacare is bad politics. It got passed, the Supreme Court ok’d it, the guy got re-elected.
But it’s all the other crap that has been swept in under the Great Society. If the government is gonna do retirement and health, most of the other shit has gotta go.
The debt ceiling is the ONLY thing I feel like I have going for me as a taxpayer, and I want so see SOMETHING MEANINGFUL done in exchange for the next increase. But 2013 has so far been nothing but one squeal after another outta Democrats over the faintest of first steps.
House Republicans are the only ones representing the interest of me, a moderate, right now.
This one doesn’t apply when conversing to a possible date
on line but it really could be preferable to get these issues fixed
before meeting in the flesh. Sinitta’s public confession seems
to serve no other purpose than to tell the world that she got pregnant with Cowell’s child long before he
impregnated Silverman. A couple’s relationship is not complete without dating.
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