Assorted links

by on February 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Is TV the next internet?  And George Selgin reviews Calomiris and Haber.

2. Um vs. uh.

3. Michael Pollan’s piece on psychedelics should win one of those David Brooks magazine awards (“Sidneys”), as it will prove one of the best and most important long reads of the year.  Among its other virtues, it confirms my view that the “psychedelic theorists” of the 1960s and 70s (and sometimes earlier, as with Huxley) remain underrated thinkers.

4. On the changes in China’s intellectual landscape.

5. Trying to test Schrodinger’s cat: do quantum states apply at the macro level too?

6. How many Harvard students actually attend Harvard lectures, or has Harvard already mastered on-line education? (pdf)

7. Proof that the robots are not benevolent.

1 Just Another MR Commenter February 9, 2015 at 12:27 pm

2. There’s a commenter who often posts here named “Ummm” and he’s a genius. You can put him high on my list of People I Admire.

2 Thor February 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Yes, he’s practically Burmese-Mexican.

3 Donald Pretari February 9, 2015 at 12:44 pm

#7…It is a good bet that robots will end up thinning the herd.

4 Yankuba February 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm

This is the Fort Sumter of the war between man and machines

5 Brian Donohue February 9, 2015 at 1:27 pm

The Luddite Moment?

6 dearieme February 9, 2015 at 12:52 pm

#6: anyone who attends all the lectures in a course hasn’t really mastered the art of being a student. Missing labs or tutorials is a mug’s game though.

7 dearieme February 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm

“They scanned British and Scottish English”: how does that work exactly?

8 Adrian Ratnapala February 9, 2015 at 3:54 pm

They might mean it. Perhaps they have a data set for Scotland, and another data set of Britain as a whole.

More likely, whoever wrote the sentence was an American.

9 Ryan February 9, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Over coffee, or I suppose, for the higher esteemed cultures, tea.

10 Mark Thorson February 9, 2015 at 1:06 pm

I’m scanning Wikipedia for “uh” as we speak. None will survive.

11 Mark Thorson February 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Wait a minute. Look at the graphs. It appears their earliest data point is for a man born around 1885. It looks like their latest data points cut off at people who around 18 today — which is reasonable, they’re only looking at adults. But they expect us to believe their data set includes a person 130 years old?

12 Ray Lopez February 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm

@#1 on Selgin’s review, my analysis here.

Selgin’s critique of Calomiris et al’s book Fragile By Design, just emphasizing the parts Selgin got wrong, which are many:

1) at p. 8 of 27, Selgin harps needlessly on how international trade did not involve soverigns. Not sure if this is historically true anyway. For example, both Maghribi traders in Muslim lands and medieval Champagne fair traders depended on governments, see Sheilagh Ogilvie and A.W. Carus (but disputed by Greif)

2) at p. 8 of 27, Selgin confuses historical past facts with prospective (future) normative (what should be) reasoning: “Past rulers, to be sure, “needed” chartered banks… But that hardly proves that states “need” such banks for such support today” – ridiculous criticism, as the future cannot rebut the past. That Calomiris does not adopt Selgin’s pet projects is no fault of Calomiris’ book.

3) at p. 12 of 27 – criticises ‘bond requirements’ by states for free banks in the 19th century, yet Richard H. Timberlake (who taught in Selgin’s old school, U of GA, before Selgin) says to the contrary, NY State had fewer failed free banks in the 1800s due to this bond requirement than say Michigan, which had many wildcat banks with no state mandate that notes be backed by specie. This deserves a mention, even if Selgin is right about the points he makes.

4) at p. 13 of 27 Selgin fails to mention Timberlake’s analysis of the post Civil War Resumption Act, which by 1879 restored the money supply to where it was before the US Civil War, and eliminated the gold premium so greenback were as ‘good as gold’. Quite an acomplishment, yet Selgin makes it seem the national drive to consolidate and eliminate state banks (voluntarily, not by fiat) was all bad.

5) at p. 17 of 27: Selgin criticises not praising economists for helping spread bank ideology, but cites Pinochet’s decision to privatize Chile’s banks as an exemplar. Given that economic performance in Chile was largely driven not by Chicago Boys advice but more by the price of copper, and that Chile’s GDP per capita was not much better than Argentina’s (Google both of these points, if you don’t believe me), this exemplar is not good. Selgin is giving economists too much credit for what appears to be, indeed, politics in shaping economics, as Calomiris correctly states.

6) at p. 20 of 27: Selgin criticizes the book for not taking a ‘crusading’ approach, for not advocating ‘changing’ the banks and calls this fatalism. So be it however. It’s not Selgin’s book so why include this sort of criticism? I too don’t like Calomiris for not mentioning patents and chess in his banking book–so what?

7) Selgin’s final sentence speaks volumes: ” But it seems to me that, if anyone is to get credit for practicing stubborn unreasonableness, it is not Calomiris and Haber, but some of the very writers on whom they hurl anathema.” – indeed, a writer like Selgin? Selgin’s criticms stike me as unreasonable, and not of the contructive kind of unreasonable. It’s as if Selgin wishes he had written Calomiris’ book. Sorry, but you did not, and you lost George.

13 JWatts February 9, 2015 at 1:44 pm

“do quantum states apply at the macro level too?”

This question brings back long forgotten memories of calculating Eigenvectors.

14 Just Another MR Commentor February 9, 2015 at 2:09 pm

#3 I enjoy these Michael Pollen long-form essays but I once tried to read a book, Cooked, written by him and after a while I just got tired of it so I Tyler Cowened it. Michael Pollen should just stick to these sort of New Yorker essays.

15 eyore February 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm

based on my limited experience, taking a hallucinogen in the knowledge of having something cancerous growing inside you, is asking for a really nasty trip. But the article says not, so what do I know.

16 Just Another MR Commentor February 9, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Hallucinogens, particularly “magic mushrooms” can have very long-term and unpredictable effects that we should be careful about. A friend of mine used to experiment with magic mushrooms and while he quit years ago he still has periodic “trips” where he honestly thinks he’s some kind of 19th Century naval officer.
Michael Pollen can be a bit over-enthusiastic about his topics of study sometimes. In his book Cooked he devoted an entire chapter to the glories of South Carolina BBQ whole hog and yet doesn’t balance this with any discussion on how eating such a diet can contribute to obesity and heart disease.

17 HL February 9, 2015 at 5:38 pm

When I’m tripping I usually fall into a psychosis where I become extremely friendly with my neighbors and just let them come over and do what they want. Generally we just hang out, but sometimes we get the munchies and they bring over some delectable ethnic food. Manuel’s mom makes some killer tamales. I generally like tripping balls but I’ve begun to notice that my furniture is getting torn up and my lawn has a worn out trail from where they walk back and forth between houses. My landlord is giving me shit about it, but whatever he’s too much of a pussy to do anything. Oddly enough I’ve never been invited over to Manuel’s house but maybe some day!

18 Axa February 10, 2015 at 6:31 am

Long-term unpredictable effects are not a worry for life end anxiety.

19 mkt February 11, 2015 at 2:08 am

Yes, so it’s easy enough to decide that psychedelic drugs should be available to patients with end-stage terminal diseases. But the article keeps creeping back to “the betterment of well people”. Maybe the majority of people would find their lives improved — but what percentage would not? Especially over the long-term, i.e. what would a longitudinal study over five or ten years show?

20 Alexp February 9, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Having a decent amount of experience, I can see how it could be good experience and it could be a bad experience. A lot of it has to to do with setting, I’d guess.

21 Faze February 9, 2015 at 6:04 pm

My experiences with LSD and other drugs, as well as with some of their damaged users, informs my recommendation that no one ever use them ever, for any reason. Everything you can hope to achieve through these uncontrolled states of mind can be more advantageously and less dangerously achieved by an intelligent person through cognition, self-awareness, and intensely pursued cultural and personal interactions mediated by everyday sense perception. Anti-drug rhetoric is such a perennial target of comedy that’s its hard to think of how to say this without sounding like a skit on Saturday Night Live, but really, do not take psychedelic drugs. Compared to what you can achieve on your own, through the refinement of your native senses and insights, drug-induced psychoses are crude, draggy and worst of all — trashy.

22 Jamie_NYC February 9, 2015 at 10:05 pm

In case you haven’t noticed, the article is mostly about terminally ill cancer patients.

23 Daniel February 10, 2015 at 4:31 am

I’m very sorry to hear you failed to enjoy your psychedelic.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep having a blast with them and thumbing my nose at sorry puritans like you.

24 China Cat February 10, 2015 at 11:06 am

Sorry Puritans? Dude seemed reasonable to me.

25 Ray Lopez February 10, 2015 at 3:29 am

IM Jeremy Silman admitted he took LSD and it did not negatively affect him, as he wrote a best seller in chess, and Nobel Prize winner and inventor of PCR, Kary Mullis, also took LSD (“” Replying to his own postulate during an interview for BBC’s Psychedelic Science documentary, “What if I had not taken LSD ever; would I have still invented PCR?” He replied, “I don’t know. I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.”–however Mullis is known to be eccentric and he may be just being provocative.)

26 Michael February 10, 2015 at 11:40 am

I don’t know. I’ve known a lot of people on a lot of different drugs, and I honestly don’t think a single one of them have been improved by the experience. This goes double for LSD.

Its a temporary distraction for bored or stupid people. I have better things to do with my time.

27 Peldrigal February 9, 2015 at 2:49 pm

#1 Apps are just limited versions of website where you can’t zoom…

28 Ryan Miller February 9, 2015 at 3:29 pm

So true. Also, if being a content producer for someone else’s channel is so great, why are all the college sports leagues forming their own TV channels to cut out the expensive middleman? Why is HBO forming their own site rather than just licensing their stuff to Netflix? Why are expensive programs like Mad Men and Justified being written to increase channel branding?

I understand the need for being a channel partner if your brand is not strong, especially if you rely on viral transmission (e.g., friend networks) or passive visibility (e.g. an already installed app) or if quality content delivery has high fixed costs (in the limit, cable networks, but even quality online video is not viable for small players). That said, most brands seem to eventually want to increase their branding to the point where they can cut out the middleman to increase profits and improve long-term customer attachment.

29 George Selgin February 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Ray, there’s not an ounce of accuracy in any of the items on your list of complaints about my review. I don’t know you personally, and so can’t imagine what would drive you to mislead people so, when they can easily check the accuracy of your claims against the actual statements in my review essay.

I very much doubt that anyone who bothers to do so will ever take another thing you say seriously!

30 msgkings February 9, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Don’t worry George, longtime readers here don’t need to use this post of Ray’s to not take him seriously.

31 George Selgin February 9, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Thanks for this reassurance, mskings.

32 Noumenon72 February 10, 2015 at 5:07 am

There is a “killfile” extension that can, as Tyler put it, wipe out annoying MR commenters. This is the first reminder I’ve had of Ray Lopez in a while.

33 Donald Pretari February 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm

I was wondering why I feel unread.

34 Edward Burke February 9, 2015 at 3:37 pm
35 James February 9, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Psychedelics like LSD and mushrooms seem to be as popular among college kids today as they were in the late 60s, but millennials don’t evangelize about them like hippies did. Acid has been reduced in status to a ‘party drug’, maybe because it no longer has any political relevance since the old conservative hierarchy has already been overturned. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test now seems as dated about acid use as The Catcher in the Rye does about sex.

This makes me doubt its potential for treating, say, alcoholism. I’d bet few alcoholics today are virgins to LSD.

36 Just Another MR Commentor February 9, 2015 at 5:39 pm

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test now seems as dated about acid use as The Catcher in the Rye does about sex.

What….what do you mean by that? Everything I KNOW about sex I learnt from The Catcher in the Rye.

37 HL February 9, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Real LSD is in short supply from what I know. The prerequisites are notoriously difficult you get your hands on these days. Alot of what passes for LSD are research chemicals made in Asia somewhere that get passed off as LSD or Molly or whatever. For recreational uses it probably doesn’t matter much to the end user.

38 carlolspln February 10, 2015 at 12:51 am

Never taken it, huh?

Moreover, you’re not a chemist.

The molecule is in the ergoline family; synthesised from [easily obtained] morning glory seeds or ergot fungus.

Read much?

39 HL February 10, 2015 at 9:38 am

just economic blogs

40 Christine February 9, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Somehow, although it said Michael Pollan, I got it in my head that it was going to be a piece by Michael LEWIS, and was a little surprised how boring it was. And lacking in a big Hero character with a great backstory.

41 Mark Thorson February 9, 2015 at 9:02 pm

Pollan should have taken some of those psychedelics himself.

42 carlolspln February 10, 2015 at 12:56 am

I’m sure he has, MT, just like you have.

So should MR readers, and, most of all, our esteemed seance conductors, Messrs. Cowen & Tabarrok.

43 Just Another MR Commentor February 10, 2015 at 6:40 am

Oh those two guys are already on acid – have you seen any of those MRU videos? Talk about a magical mystery tool

44 Just Another MR Commentor February 10, 2015 at 6:50 am

*tour, tour magical mystery tour – I need my morning coffee

45 Edward Burke February 10, 2015 at 8:44 am

As to Schrodinger’s Cat and wave function collapse, see this essential preamble:

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