by Tyler Cowen
on March 15, 2017 at 3:42 am
in Books, Education, Philosophy
Here it is. As for my score, well, as Number Two used to say, “That would be telling.”
So, it is now possible to reference http://tylercowen.com/ in the comments?
Well, so much for that previous humility.
The things you think indicate complacency require a lot of complacent behavior, it seems to me.
The options on some questions assume a lifestyle that is rather upper class American.
For example, for most in the world, life must be lived without a cell phone or car/truck. I chose to live without a car or cell phone because both would be complacent acceptance of conservative free lunch economic view that EVERYONE HAS A CAR AND CELL PHONE THAT GOD GAVE THEM. How else would they assume that everyone can engage in activities that require them, and the only reason they don’t is laziness.
To be clear, I not only would give up my car and cell phone, but have given up both for a bike, and then trike (recumbent tadpole).
And why have some else decide the choices for eating and how it is cooked and from what? I’m constantly experimenting, though I have my routine, but even then I try new things if the idea comes up.
Eating out is someone else’s choice and convenience.
“The options on some questions assume a lifestyle that is rather upper class American.”
Yeah, the unexpected week off question should have included: “Catch up on work around the house.”
As well as single and employed.
> As well as single and employed.
And childless …. like I’m going to pull all of my kids out of pre and elementary school for some sudden transcontinental jaunt.
I think you will find that in most of the world everyone has a cell phone.
Most of the world has a cell phone now.
It’s a complacently US-centric quiz! And assumes ownership of cell phone and car … lots of people don’t own cars today, as I learned from reading The Complacent Class.
Yes, I wish there were options for us dirty foreigners. I could reinterpret most of the questions, bit a few were very US-specific, like “What US region have you lived in the longest?”.
And Europeans wondering “wtf is an IHOP?”
Does moving from one non-US country to another non-US country count as moving states?
I interpreted it that way. It felt unfair at first; having lived in several countries should give more non-complacently points than US states. But then it’s easier to rack up “countries visited” in Europe.
Tyler’s book was very US-centric so I’d imagine the quiz would follow that mold. Not owning a car is much more normal in countries other than the US.
Michael is right, the quiz is rigged, it needs to be changed. The questions for “cell phone”, “order in”, “make more money than your parents”m “live free in another’s home” are so heavily weighed that I was categorized as Complacent, despite: (1) having visited 30 countries, (2) living as a minority in my neighborhood in three different countries, (3) having a 100% pay increase in the last five years (I got a large inheritance from a Greek relative, more than I could have gotten by working for a decade, and I was making six figures working) (4) jumping from job to job in three different states (I’ve never held a job more than five years, except my own consultancy), (5) dating and about to be married bi-racially, and, though it did not come up (and should have), being in the top 1% in net worth (intestate share). Stupid stupid quiz designed more as a publicity stunt than real social science. If I’m complacent, then nobody is not complacent. I will also add some questions could not be skipped. I don’t listen to music, except for what my hot Filipino girlfriend half my age listens to. So I guess I’m complacent in what I hear (but I hate some of the pop music she listens to, especially that fat whale of a singer, possibly not using Auto-Tune, to her credit, Adele).
Plus I’m also listed on several US patents, and answered the inventor question that way on the quiz.
Bonus trivia- in today’s news (MSN news): MEXICO CITY — The top prosecutor in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz confirmed Tuesday that more than 250 skulls have been found in what appears to be a drug cartel mass burial ground on the outskirts of the city of Veracruz.
“For many years, the drug cartels disappeared people and the authorities were complacent ,” Winckler said, in apparent reference to the administration of fugitive former Gov. Javier Duarte and his predecessors.
Ray, nobody’s more complacent than you.
I got “Striver”. Now here’s my “Are you a Cuck? Quiz”:
Are you reading this comment posted on MR right now?
Yes? Then turn around because your wife is banging BBC you fucking CUCK!!
I love you ! <3<3<3
I agree with Ray (<ein mal ist keinmal). I have lived in half a dozen countries and visited 50+, never worked anywhere for more than 2 years except in the company I started, make several orders of magnitude more than my parents, have been married twice to radically different women, etc, etc, etc, and I find out today than I am complacent because I have a graduate degree and listens to music on Spotify.
You make 10,000 or more times as much as your parents?
you think that an inheritance is a “pay increase”? /facepalm
The book’s claim is that *Americans* have become too complacent and, as a result, risk sacrificing the dynamism that has been essential to American growth. The subtitle is “The Self-Defeating Quest for the *American* Dream”. So, it would make sense that the quiz is US-centric. A test for foreigners would test not for complacency but instead how well they have adopted historically American ideals of liberty and individualism.
The quiz is good effort to go viral on facebook. People love quizzes about themselves (myself included).
I’m a Striver biatches!
I got striver as well, but I think I’m a huge asterisk. I’m likely a 3 or a 4, actually, save for my time in the Peace Corps as a young man and the “Have you ever…” questions.
It kinda seems weighted so that if you’re poor, you HAVE to be complacent – so many of the questions require you to have or have had money to burn to choose the “non-complacent” option.
I’m not sure if that was intentional or not.
I am so complacent, I won’t take the quiz. I think I won.
It would not matter hombre, the quiz will list you as complacent no matter who you are if you answer a certain way to a few key questions, see what I wrote above.
Amigo, off-topic, here is a story our co-host AlexT would approve of: the man served his time already, he deserves a second change, work dignifies a man!? “Souza was convicted by a lower court in 2013 after a trial and police reports that included horrific accounts of how Samudio died: She was strangled, her body was cut up and pieces were fed to dogs”. http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/soccer/brazil-club-signs-goalkeeper-convicted-in-girlfriends-death/ar-AAolqEm
She may have been strangled and her body may have been cut up and pieces may have been fed to the dogs. The body has never been found and there was controversy among the defendants. Any way, rhe root of the problema was that the Justice system took too much time to judge his appeal and he is temporaly free (but must report periodically to the authorities). There is nothing in Brazil like American imprisonment for undetermined durations. And four out of five club sponsors withdrew their support to the club. Brazil’s moral fiber has no equal.
It strikes me after going through this quiz and reading the comments that so-called “complacency,” as with many areas of life, has been reversed over the year between rich and poor. It used to be that wealth was tied to land, so the rich stayed put while the poor were forced to move around.
Presumes a lot of complacency to begin with. “Get off social media for a month….” Never used social media, never will. “Have a civil conversation with someone you typically disagree with…” My political views are an extreme minority where I live, so I have to be civil and reasonable if I want to have any conversations at all. “Delete 4 apps from you phone”…. No apps on my phone (Nokia user).
As others have noted, it would be nice to have a non-US version. People in other countries can also be complacent, but in different ways.
You are using social media right now so I guess you’ve broken that streak
You honestly consider this social media? Seriously?
Of you are welcome to make such a definition, but then that would mean a BBS system of the late 80s was also social media, which seems a bit overly inclusive.
Social media means something shaped by social connections. The links to, and out of, this comments section make it social. The 106 (seriously?) Twitter shares, definitely.
Every time Tyler presses a hot button, the resulting troll fight is social media in action.
Cass Sunstein is on it, with a better book for these times. We are shaped by dramatic socal and cultural innovation, not stagnation or complacency.
“Presumes a lot of complacency to begin with”. That’s right, and I was embarrassed by the same questions as you: I don’t use social media, have no cell phone, etc. Also the question on voting habits: as a foreigner, I can’t vote in the US. I could vote in France, but I have not done so since I left it 10 years ago. And what if I came form a country with no election (there are still many of them), or no presidential election (that is almost every country besides US, France, and some countries with elections but not a full democracy like Iran, Algeria)? I got that’s those questions that made me a Striver
But the test is for fun. Some commenters seem to take it way too seriously.
Only, “seriously” because it leads us in a wrong direction.
To back up, this book was supposed to be what was wrong with President Hillary Clinton’s world. Maybe it would have been, but (and this is important) we did not get that world because we are not complacent.
So keep riding a cause and effect that both never happened?
I have to disagree with the notion that participating in a political protest counts against being complacent. Other than being a way to meet members of the opposite (or same) sex, it’s often just a form of virtue signalling for certain groups. You could just as easily give credit for “have you been to church?” Although in my case, the answer would be “no” to both questions.
It sounds like you just associate protests with the left, and you don’t like the left.
I have friends mostly across the political and religious spectrum, although I don’t know whether any of my friends are atheist moderate libertarians like me. I have learned that other people’s political beliefs are not a good predictor of whether I will like them, and I don’t have a sense of team identity where I like or don’t like the left or right.
I have no idea whether you disagreed with my point. If you think it’s relevant, I voted for Hillary (even though I disagree with her on most issues, I was far more troubled by Trump).
A former roommate met his wife at a March for Life Event. The Left has no monopoly on virtue-signaling. Conservative venues for it tend not to be in the public eye though.
Claiming you know why people go to protest when you never have been to one sounds clueless as well as complacent
And astrologists are full of shit, I say this despite not being one, nor ever having met one.
I’m not sure what to make of this quiz. In the last fifteen years, I’ve moved cities five times for jobs and for grad school, the last of which was to a city on the other side of the world. My wife is a different ethnicity and religion and from a different country in a different part of the world. I’ve been a minority in just about every place I’ve ever lived. I don’t surround myself with people of the same political ideology. In the last two years alone, I’ve been to about twenty new countries for business and pleasure. And I’ve somehow managed to score Complacent.
Curious to know what moves the needle in this quiz and what does’t.
Easy. “Complacent” people are in the market for the book, or at least the theory. The more the better.
Weird. I wonder if the quiz is a joke, choosing the score randomly, just to see commenters getting nervous. That would be a good joke of Tyler, and a lesson on not to betook complacent with quizzes. Has someone at least checked that it was deterministic, that is that the same answers gave the same score?
According to this quiz, Sherlock Holmes, Immanuel Kant, and Warren Buffett would have almost certainly ranked as complacent, maybe Steve Jobs too.
Ironically, the quiz seems to discriminate against infovores, who may be extremely complacent via a vis the external world—eg eating the same meal at the same place every day—but are always conquering new world inside their heads.
That is a great point. I really hope that Tyler doesn’t take this quiz seriously or think that it is a valid measure of anything. E.g.; being willing to move where you need to move to pursue the career you want is important. Assigning some arbitrary score based on the number of states you lived in the past 10 years is silly and arbitrary. This quiz reduced my interest in reading The Complacent Class (I have read two of Tyler’s books; I loved Average Is Over and was bored by An Economist Gets Lunch).
You didn’t really expect a book with the title “An Economist Gets Lunch” to be a page turner did you?
Sadly, I did. I’m a fairly avid foodie but just couldn’t get into it.
Probably because your favorite food is cock
Well I dunno. His previous book “Bus Driver Takes Smoke Break” was pretty riveting.
I said I had created “a new product” but it was at least a dozen, started a sole proprietorship, a partnership, got into a startup, a small company to IPO .. complacent.
Exactly. I have the same experience. Something is fatally flawed with this test.
That intelligent, talented people (“infovores”) are conquering new worlds only inside their heads, and not out in the real, external world, is related to Peter Thiel’s lament of innovation occuring in bits and 140 characters instead of meat-space, and indicative of what The Last Psychiatrist termed the overarching narcissism (NOT a synonym for egotism) of our age.
It is sure as heck not something The Last Engineer would have said. Virtual goods are substitutable for physical goods, in most contexts. Or they substitute for impossible things.
If you are a geneticist, I don’t suppose you ever printed a sequence on paper, to make it real?
You are on the right track… Perhaps those “intelligent” individuals have a disposition for artificial realms where they set the terms through intellectual construction. Thiel and Cowen seem guilty of the overarching narcassism you describe.
Wrong, the TLP model of narcissism is about fixation on one’s own identity at the cost of making a positive impact on the external world/lives of others around you: what Hannah Arendt called the importance of ACTION in human life. Thiel and Cowen are pro-ACTION. (Donald Trump is a narcissist.)
Mistaking Thiel’s projected idenity for reality. Narcassism is cultural and you appear to be making excuses for it. Perhaps Thiel’s actually activity is a more meaningful indicator than his essays on himself.
Regardless of what you think of Gawker’s commitment to journalism, what do you think the larger implications of normalizing the sacrificial destruction of a media outlet for outing someone as a homesexual will be?
I do know what to make out of this quiz. It is a perfect symptom of complacency. The questions are inconsistent, there are many biases (mostly unintentional I think), and it does not really matter. People love talking about themselves (as pointed out by others) and this will be viral regardless of its lack of merit. Am I complacent? Am I a striver? Am I a trailblazer?
To me, this is the definition of complacency. Being drawn to a survey like this (and I was) indicates complacency, regardless of your answers.
Letting Cowen get away with this survey is a complacent accepectence of the replacing the science of economics with the art of public affairs.
After taking this quiz I’ve concluded that if I was any more complacent than I am now, I think I’d probably be dead.
I wonder how the ideas in this book contrast with the ideas in Create Your Own Economy. I guess I’ll have to read both to find out.
The quiz told me what I already knew about myself. Maybe even more so. I find the tips to be the most interesting part. Even the tips I would not necessarily agree with. For example, given that I don’t have many opportunities to try new restaurants, I tell myself that I use Yelp to help me discover new things without wasting my opportunities, not to find something inside my comfort zone. But when was the last time I tried a new restaurant the old fashioned way? I can’t remember.
I still have a little trouble with the word complacent, though I don’t have an alternative. It is interesting that in the quiz tips the word “dynamism” is used as the opposite of complacent. Dynamism works nicely, as it did in Virginia Postrel’s The Future and its Enemies. She used the word “stasists” instead of “complacent class”. Stasists was an awkward word too.
The opposite of complacent seems to be hipster/pretentious
I.e., the restaurants everyone likes can’t possibly be good! Only the restaurants that seem shitty to everyone else might be good if you are a true foodie and can actually tell what food tastes good, unlike regular people
Too many travel and moving questions… must be nice money bags. Wold like to see folks thoughts on frequency engaging local resources like library, municipal services. Understanding those less fortunate and local, or the organizations that help, maybe donate time or resources? Do you yard or estate sale? What % of your meals are packaged, manufactured? How often do you take a different but local walk, at least two or three separate sectional or zoned areas distance difference than your home? How often do you feel you’ve reinvented yourself… do your neighbors, coworkers, friends, family, spouse regularly do so? Otherwise, super fun quiz.
I accept my label of comfortable. How does reproduction and child-rearing fit Tyler’s complacency framework?
It is a revolutionary act.
Anyone who works in anywhere but government and the menial parts of health care is not complacent, they can’t be. The technological changes over the last two decades have meant that everyone has relearned their endeavor twice since then. And kept their job, meaning that they are not by definition complacent.
The high tech world of short term projects, knock it over and leave, consuming people then dropping them has led to a stagnation in productivity, and the assumption that government can watch and hear you at any time. The complacency with which the so called smart people in that industry have let that happen is awful. To reject even their premises is a revolutionary act.
As someone who works in a part of government that by definition has to be on top of the latest trends and technological changes, I take umbrage with that.
> How does reproduction and child-rearing fit Tyler’s complacency framework?
Presumably children are problematic because you can’t take them out to ethnic restaurants.
Something is up with this quiz. I’m living in a foreign country, speaking only the foreign language for weeks on end, and of a different race than the people among whom I live. My home back in the States, when I return to it, is on the opposite side of the country from which I live. I haven’t had a paycheck-type job for 14 years.
Somehow I rate as “complacent.”
It seems that I’m complacent, according to the test. And here I was considering reading his book. No longer. This test is far beyond condescending.
and the celebrity I most resemble is Scott Baio
Got Tier 3: Comfortable. As you might guess, I’m fine with that. I see no need for xenophilia and I have no taste for the exotic. For some reason, the elites in this country hate it when people seek to lead normal lives, or have a “normal country” in the sense that Jeane Kirkpatrick wrote about in her Fall 1990 National Interest article. To those folks, America is always a means to someone else’s ends rather than an end in herself, and individual Americans’ lives (and time and money) are always expected to be mortgaged on behalf of the Other (whoever that may be during a particular month).
Questions obviously meant for urban/city/sub population. The good Prof. Cowen should visit western rural America sometime and interact with real people.
“You are a striver—You embrace newness, but you need to strive harder to break the mold.”
Which is it?
PS – I was born and raised in paradise and would not dream of leaving.
Here are related questions –
Do you have more than two children?
Are more than 50% of your coworkers from a foreign country?
Has someone in your workgroup been fired in the last five years?
In at least one of the last five years, have you been unable to contribute the full amount into your company’s retirement plan?
What a useless quiz. and a waste of time. As most of them are. They always end up being a manifestation of the assumptions of the writer.
So if I see three things that need changing, and am investing time, money and energy in addressing them, I’m comfortable because I don’t go yell at a politician? I don’t use Yelp to choose a restaurant, but I walk in, take a look around, then try them out, and I’m comfortable?
I think whoever wrote this quiz needs to get out a bit.
I think using Yelp scores you as more complacent.
Depends on how you use it. If you yelp “Chinese food” you might get a lot of steam tray joints with “huge servings,” but you can scroll down to real food.
Similarly if “Mexican food” gives you “taco bowls.”
the idea there is to lower the status of yelp (which is full of class-climber asian chicks) and raise the status of specialized sites like LTHforum (Chicago) and Tyler’s own DC-area guide to ethnic dining
Well spotted, but are the asian chicks “climbers” or are they just “liked” to an unseemly degree?
Right, the comments here seem to be making assumptions about how their responses were scored, and it’s not clear to me that those assumptions are correct.
It’s easy enough to deduce that living closer to your home town and visiting fewer foreign countries will cause you be graded as more complacent. Using Yelp though?
FWIW, I was graded as Tier 2, Striver. With these online quizzes one quick validity test that I sometimes do is take the test a second time but give answers that are the opposite of what I really think and see what the results are. E.g. if the quiz is which Lord of the Rings character I am, and my first result was Aragorn (Striver get it?) and my second one was Gandalf, I can deduce that the quiz is not telling me anything useful (okay that would probably be clear even before taking a LOTR quiz).
So just now I took the test a second time, giving answers that were as close as possible to what I estimated the opposite to be including extreme opposites if called for as well as moderate opposites. And lo and behold, the score for Opposite Me is Tier 3, Comfortable.
This doesn’t prove the validity of the survey of course but at least the results are not random nonsense for my sets of answers.
Well, since so many seem complacent after providing as much data as collectible to those running tylercowen.com, maybe it is time to guess the title of Prof. Cowen’s next book?
“Great Stagnation” is to “Average Is Over” as “The Complacent Class” is to ? (This answer is extremely unlikely – “I’m In Love With Tenure And I Feel Fine”)
Seems like it’s biased towards complacency. Several of the quests don’t even apply and “hypothetical” answers should not be considered in any type of assessment of how one lives their life.
Is “complacency” a latent factor?
Has Tyler has a statistician do item or scale level analysis?
I would like to know how each of the items functions individually and to know if this is a validated scale.
This looks like a psychometric classroom example of how to design a scale that does nothing empirically other than tell you how people answered the items. As far as I can tell it has the validity of the typical Cosmo magazine or social psychology survey…
I’m a striver.
I’m curious about the question on fast food chains. I assumes going to more such chains makes you more complacent, because you pick safe familiar things over the unpredictable experiences of independent businesses.
But, if you have been to _ALL_ the chains in the list, doesn’t that indicate you move around a lot and is not so complacent? If you are constantly on the road chasing opportunities around the country, you will often need food in a hurry.
The second issue I wonder about is car ownership. If you don’t have a car because you just stay at home watching Netflix and eating delivery food then sure, complacent. But if you skip the car because you live in a city and cycle or use public transport, you are getting more unexpected experiences and interactions with strangers. Isn’t the car a complacent convenience, a metal shell that protects you from interations with the outside world as you move through it?
People whose identities are centered around their bicycles are often insufferable. It is tempting on the part of Tyler to call them complacent for that reason.
To the slothful, any sermon is an insult.
Sermon vs insult? Why not both?
obviously, identity bicyclists are restricted to a certain subculture which has a certain socioeconomic class flavoring (white “dudes” with chinstrap beards).
the parallel with motorcycle culture is there – a retired UMC boomer on a Harley is play-acting as a member of a drug-dealing, no formal employment, bar-busting gang subculture.
indeed, not even lance armstrong (or substitute any other professional athlete bicyclist) fit into the insufferable bicyclist culture, much less george W bush or the vets he rides bikes with on the wounded warrior project.
That is funny.
I have seen a new thing recently. Weekend rides by large groups (200+) people wearing motorcycle vests and riding low bicycles.
What is that? Some kind of anti-hip bicycling club? They aren’t skinny enough to be hipsters.
‘a retired UMC boomer on a Harley is play-acting as a member of a drug-dealing, no formal employment, bar-busting gang subculture’
Or they are capitalist tools, like this guy – ‘In his late forties, he discovered motorcycles.
He bought a motorcycle dealership in New Jersey, and turned it into one of the largest dealerships in the country. He became a goodwill ambassador for the sport.
He defended the sport. The Garden State Parkway in New Jersey was open to cars, but not for motorcycles. Malcolm fought that, and won. He said: “I think legislative assaults on motorcyclists are totally emotional, disproportionate and totally unfair… They are instigated and implemented by people who know nothing about motorcycling, but have a prejudice. It’s easy to curb the freedoms of others when you see no immediate impact on your own.”
And he started a motorcycle club called the Capitalist Tools. His estate in New Jersey became a regular starting point for runs with New Jersey and New York motorcyclists. He eventually owned seventy motorcycles, mainly Harleys.
Some of the non-Harleys were pretty interesting motorcycles, though. In 1978 he bought a Van Veen OCR 1000. (996cc Mazda Rotary in a Moto Guzzi frame, 4 speed box, 291kg dry, discs front and back, top speed 210km/h). Malcolm said he took it to 130 mph.
Later, he also bought two Amazonas from Brazil: Brazilian frame and running gear, 1600cc Volkswagen engine and transmission (with reverse), 363kg dry, brakes that taught the rider to plan well in advance. There were only 450 ever made.
In 1979, he used his connections to take the Capitalist Tools on a goodwill ride of the Soviet Union, which at that stage did not accept American tourists.
In 1982, he used his political connections to ship a squadron of Harley Davidsons to China, which at that stage did not accept American tourists, and took the Capitalist Tools on another tour. He took a hot air balloon. The Chinese refused him permission to fly it. It “accidentally” slipped its tether, and finished its flight in a Red Army camp, almost provoking an international incident.
In February 1984, he took the Tools on a 20 day 3700 kilometre tour of Egypt. He took a hot air balloon shaped like the Sphinx, and flew it over the Valley of the Kings.’ http://www.bikeme.tv/index.php/famous-motorcyclists-of-last-century-part-iii/
But then, who knows? Maybe Macolm Forbes was really just a Hell’s Angels wannabe.
Tyler also uses interest in LSD as a measure of non-complacency. Have you heard of “bicycle day”?
So, motorcyclists who ride year round have escaped your notice?
I know people have beefs with cyclists, but I think Tylers thesis is that people should be _more_ insufferable.
Hilarious comments so far. Keep ’em coming, people.
Apropos of nothing, there are #57 comments thus far, and no one has yet used the word “Straussian.”
Waltzing is for the complacent.
Are you looking for clients? How does someone get in touch with you for training services? If anyone needs a personal trainer he is excellent at helping cucks get in shape! Speaking of Strauss… Do you hate the people who pay you?
I don’t think there is any good evidence that exercise combats aging or extends longevity. In fact it seems to square the curve, making you less likely to die young but less likely to live to very old age as well
Didn’t follow the links in the post, huh? That’s a pity.
I got “complacent.” The shoe fits, I’ve never attended a protest, never written a letter to my cuck congressman, and I watch a lot of TV. But I take issue with the two questions about romance. There was no option for “women are whores, go MGTOW!”
Seems to me that having kids increases the likelihood of scoring “complacent” on this (truly stupid) quiz, when in reality fertility is critical to maintaining American dynamism. What a crock.
I ranked complacent. And, in the terms that the quiz values, I can’t really dispute that. But I don’t have TIME to move around, protest, and experience crazy new things, because I started a business before I was 25, filing all the incorporation documents and legal requirements. At the same age, I filed for patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. All accepted, and granted federal approval! I go home and sit on the couch every evening, basking in relaxation, because my daily working hours are insane juggling the responsibilities of a growing, national, manufacturing business.
Yes. By the definition that the quiz provides, I am complacent; but the definition is lacking.
Tyler goes full clickbait.
At least he’s not being complacent
When they organize a protest to abolish the corporate income tax, defang the FDA, remove land-use restrictions, tear pages out of the federal registry, etc., I’ll show up. If I don’t have anything better to do.
I stopped at the music question, which is from 1999. What is a music store? Don’t you go to any music websites, even YouTube?
Obviously no quiz like this can be perfect, it has to work with averages, and generalizations.
But, it seems heavily biased towards Tyler’s own lifestyle preferences. Avoid chain restaurants, travel to different countries, avoid delivery services (I don’t even understand this one), go new places.
I think counter examples are easily given to most of these. IHOP is one of the few places reliably open on Christmas day if you’re travelling on the highway. I had to go to McDonalds because I was climbing a long route in Yosemite, with a long approach and descent, and by the time we got back to town the only thing open was McDonalds (even the grocery store was closed, and there’s a good reason we don’t carry much food camping with us that has to do with bear regulations). I’d think, realistically, the long, strenuous climb, including a technical descent in the dark would count for more than a single trip to McDonalds would count against me. I get that a lot of people just choose McDonalds because it’s comfortable. But, a lot of people prefer to skip the fast food when possible, but are left without a lot of options sometimes while out pursuing other things, than just travelling to visit new towns.
Travel to different countries is neat, but why is it so important? I have small kids that makes it cost prohibitive, and unappealing, especially when I live near so much, Yosemite, the coast, Lassen, Kings Canyon, Big Sur, the Redwood National Forest, etc…. Is international travel really so much more intellectually stimulating than getting to know a single place really well? Just a couple of months ago I was at the Donner Memorial in Truckee, which inspired me to read a more detailed book about the actual history of the party (The Indifferent Stars Above). I’ve been to Yosemite numerous times, but there’s so much to do, there are so many places I haven’t been, so many hikes I haven’t done. And the history of the area is fascinating. I’m not convinced you have to travel far away to be experiencing, or learning something new.
Delivery services are a God send. Again, I have small kids (3.5 and 2). I typically run all of my errands on foot, putting the kids in the stroller, and walking to town for groceries, and playgrounds, and shoes, and whatnot. But, it often happens my wife (who is a doctor) is working an overnight shift, I have the kids at home myself, and I realize we’re out of some critical thing we need first thing in the morning. Kids are in bed, what other choice do I have? Amazon Prime Now makes it possible for me to both take care of my kids, and get necessary things for them. And takeout/delivery food are similar. It’s just not always feasible to get off work, pick both kids up, go to the grocery store, buy groceries, go home, cook dinner, feed them, get them ready for bed, and into bed on time.
I’m also not convinced about the bonus points for helping create a new product. I work in Silicon Valley, it’s trivial to work on a new product here. I’ve been through startups, at the early stage. It’s a neat experience, but you get paid well for it. And, even at big companies, much of what we do is build new things. What seems much harder to me is starting a business. A lot of people run small businesses that do mundane things, but starting that business seems far from complacent, it’s a huge risk, and requires a lot of talent and dedication that I’m not sure I have. And that’s not even touched on in the quiz. So, nearly everyone in Silicon Valley, no matter how lazy, or incompetent gets bonus points, while someone in the south trying to open a new restaurant gets dinged.
Again, I get that this is just trying to hit generalizations. But, it seems to me that it assumes a very specific lifestyle, and is highly biased towards promoting a specific way of living, specifically, Tyler’s preferred way of living.
Lots of people complaining about the “moving” questions.
Your ancestors moved around *far* more frequently than you do and were *much* poorer than you are.
5% of the travelers on the Oregon Trail died during their 5 month journey west. A blacksmith earning $10/week was able to scrap together $500 to move his family across the Rocky Mountains to Oregon.
And you’re telling me you can’t manage to scrap together a couple months rent to move down to Dallas?
I guess we have become soft and complacent.
Weren’t they giving out free land or gold or something? Why would I move to Oregon nowadays?
good idea. bad execution. most answers don’t fit me. I haven’t had an employer since 1993, have worked all over country and world and am rated “complacent.” gimmebreak.
Ok I’m rated as complacent – that’s what happens when you get a profession and live in the same hometown. I’m anything but conventional in my thinking and much of my behavior, so that should count as something. And do I get any extra points for not accepting this stupid label? I’m certainly not content with the status quo, but my methods for dealing with that are more under the radar. In my favor, I haven’t spent a paragraph justifying my occasional McDonald’s visits – I like the odd bacon and egg bagel.
Oh wait…if I wasn’t complacent I wouldn’t take offence at a simplistic survey. Never mind.
If the goal is to be less complacent, upper-class Americans don’t need to be told to travel more or try more kinds of cuisines, a well-worn path of upper-class self-improvement. Instead, they should be told to join the military, take up kickboxing, or learn how to rebuild a car engine.
This is daft. Not nearly as good as Charles Murray’s Bubble survey…
But also, WHY pray tell does one need to “see what you’re missing” – the terrible mistake in this is the idea that different music, or a different place of eating, (to pick two) would have any affect at all on the quality of one’s life, or one’s contribution to society.
So a person who works at one job for two decades and makes lots of new products and files a bunch of patents is “complacent”, while somebody who goes from one subsistence sports related to a job (ski instructor, hang gliding instructor, sky diving instructor, surfer) across several states is somehow a trailblazer? (Nothing wrong with that, – but what’s so admirable about it?)
Cowen is confusing “matured past the need for pointless change” with “not doing anything useful with one’s life” – they are really very different things.
Comfortable. Alright, I think.
Here is a thought experiment. Suppose the less complacent people of the past had answered this, maybe the populations of 1917 or 1957. How would they end up? I am thinking “complacent.” So now we have this quiz and most of the population will book in as complacent. What would the quiz have been that would have generated more trailblazers and strivers in 1917 or 1957? (I am “comfortable” for full disclosure.)
Apparently I’m a “striver.” My largest source of unhappiness the last five years has been living so far from home, and I often regret deciding to move across the country for college, and then moving again for work. At least I have Tyler to tell me I made the right decision.
At least is across the country and not the globe. It gets better with time.
Some of the indicators seem to be secondary with respect to complacency and they might be able to explain things both way. For example, some of the emigrants from California might be too complacent and not upgrading their skill sets that they had to chase the older fashion jobs interstates in southern US while the incoming interstate immigrants are mostly from NE US. Economic performances are rather location specific and the inter-state migrants can be up or down scaling their careers and they can be striving or complacent.
Many of the questions track introversion, which (at least in some people) is at odds with complacency.
I think of myself as complacent, I got “striver”.
Like the upper -middle class professional who works within the orbit of the rich, you may feel more complacent than you are.
Is there a bonus for being on hallucinogens while taking the quiz?
Pretty disappointing. The chain restaurant question especially. My family (including my young son) eat out 5-10 times per week. We don’t live in a very large city. We have been to almost every new restaurant, every ethnic restaurant, and on the road we try to find the most absurd or kitschy place possible. But we also have friends who make far, far less money than us and when they want to eat out, or we’re at a hockey tournament together, we eat where they want to eat. So we’ve been to multiple chains in the last year.
My neighbours have the same education as me because I live right next to campus, because I’m finishing a PhD in a hard science unrelated to my career. I’m 44.
An unexpected week off I’d stay home. I wouldn’t watch Netflix, I’d work on my dissertation.
I have friends with PhDs, I have friends that never graduated high school, I have friends who have kicked heroin addiction and friends who never drink. I’ve helped close friends learn English. I’ve tried most of the drugs on your list.
Calling me complacent is ridiculous.
I couldn’t finish it, because there was no “none of the above” or N/A.
Leave a Comment
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
Previous post: Empiricism and humility
Next post: My Conversation with Malcolm Gladwell
Email Tyler Cowen
Follow Tyler on Twitter
Email Alex Tabarrok
Follow Alex on Twitter
Subscribe in a reader
Follow Us on Twitter
Marginal Revolution on Twitter Counter.com
Get smart with the Thesis WordPress Theme from DIYthemes.