Reddit AMA with me

by on March 7, 2017 at 2:36 pm in Philosophy | Permalink

1 Mark Thorson March 7, 2017 at 2:44 pm

You’re thinking ahead to “How am I going to roast this thing?”

2 Thiago Ribeiro March 7, 2017 at 2:46 pm

My sister’s dog bites my ankle when I visit.

3 rayward March 7, 2017 at 2:48 pm

They eat horses, don’t they?

4 Jeff R March 7, 2017 at 2:59 pm

I would think the duck sized horses could be trained to carry small loads: six packs of beer or soda, for example.

On the other hand, a horse sized duck…that’s a lot a Chinese takeout meals in a single bird. (That’s the only time I eat duck, even though every time I have it I think “that was delicious; I should eat duck more often.”)

5 Jeff R March 7, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Addendum: “As for food, she bakes pies and the like, and I can’t say I agree with that at all.”

Self unrecommending, Tyler.

6 mkt42 March 7, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I mentioned this in the other thread: this was my favorite of Tyler’s responses. Mark Bittman (who I usually don’t care for) opened my eyes with his diatribe against pie:
I realized that he (and Tyler) are correct: pie is an inherently dumb idea, taking a delicious filling and surrounding it with an insipid substance.

When the best that one can say of a food is that “it’s flaky!” or “it’s golden brown!” or “it’s tender and not tough!” then we’re talking about a really boring food. Superior to pies are: cobblers, buckles, crisps, pan-dowdies, brown betties, strudel, danish, turnovers, crepes, dutch babies, waffles with fruit on top … pretty much anything.

7 Thiago Ribeiro March 7, 2017 at 6:36 pm

I like pies and I will fight for them if the need ever arises.

8 y81 March 7, 2017 at 6:57 pm

I don’t follow this logic: Cobbler is just lazy pie, with essentially the same dough on top of or mixed with the filling, rather than enclosing it. Turnovers are made with puff pastry, which has the exact same ingredients as pie dough, but prepared a little differently, which gives a slightly different texture or consistency, but not a big difference in flavor. Waffles are usually served with fresh fruit, not cooked, which is very different from the other items. I could go on, but you get the idea.

9 mkt42 March 8, 2017 at 7:54 pm

“Cobbler is just lazy pie, with essentially the same dough on top of or mixed with the filling, rather than enclosing it.”

Cobblers have one inherent advantage over pies: there’s less of the boring stuff. And they have a potential massive advantage: the best cobblers I’ve had didn’t have boring pie dough or biscuit dough or shortcake dough on top, but something much more flavorful. Ingredients such as honey and cinnamon, plus maybe secret ingredients, anyway they’re light years more flavorful and light years ahead of pie crust.

“Turnovers are made with puff pastry, which has the exact same ingredients as pie dough, but prepared a little differently, which gives a slightly different texture or consistency, but not a big difference in flavor.”

Similar to above. Here their inherent advantage is the better texture, but the best ones have another advantage: a sugar topping. I’d still be reluctant to eat a turnover that had no filling, but I’d much rather eat one than a pie that had no filling (even if the pie crust had sugar sprinkled on top). That’d be inedible, whereas an unfilled turnover is something that I could eat (and there are pastries that are similar in concept to this; they aren’t very good or interesting, but they’re edible).

“Waffles are usually served with fresh fruit, not cooked, which is very different from the other items.”

Yes, I was running out of examples of the more narrowly defined genre so I was going farther afield with this one. And yes it starts becoming an apples-to-oranges comparison, or apple pies to key lime pies, but the truism remains: they’re better uses of fruit+dough than a pie is.

10 Shane M March 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Pecan Pie > Pecan goo

11 dan1111 March 8, 2017 at 2:09 am

I think pie with a good crust is really good. But most of those other items you mention beat a mediocre pie, and it’s easier to make a good version of many of them.

12 prior_test2 March 8, 2017 at 2:11 am

“it’s flaky!”

Croissants, take that.

13 JWatts March 8, 2017 at 2:58 pm

“I agree with Megan [McArdle] a lot, and am good friends with her. But I am reluctant to pull out any single name. As for food, she bakes pies and the like, and I can’t say I agree with that at all. So it all depends.”

I like pies, but this is still the best quote.

14 Nick_L March 7, 2017 at 3:13 pm

‘The Trolley will either hit five duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck’ Choose wisely..

15 Borjigid March 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm


16 Dick the Butcher March 7, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Think one aggressive, 900 lb. duck and 100 herbivore, five-pound horses.

Insufficient information. Are firearms permitted? If so, shoot the horse-sized duck and throw a feast for family and friends. If unarmed combat, the horse-sized duck, at say 1,000 lbs, could peck the bejesus out of your ass. So, ebne though you be exhausted chasing-down and kicking through the goal posts 100 duck-sized horses, it is safer. One duck-sized horse would be over-rated, 1000 would wear one down.

Reminds me of the night I walked our 55 Lb. black Lab mix when the neighbors’ tiny Chihuahua tried to commit canine seppuku.

17 Larry Siegel March 8, 2017 at 3:44 am

I have never known a group of horses to cooperate in any way. They are gentle herbivores, not wolves that form a pack to attack their prey. A horse-sized duck would be very strong and very stupid. So, I’d be much more afraid of a horse-sized duck.

18 rayward March 7, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Why are ducks the size of ducks and horses the size of horses? If there were ducks and horses of different sizes (horses of a different color, so to speak), would the resulting disruption promote greater dynamism and avoid complacency? The theme of complacency and its place in the annals of human behavior reminds me of Larry Summers’ explanation for the financial crisis, given in his Okun Lecture as the crisis was unfolding. His explanation? That smart economists like him, by overcoming the dilemma of the Phillips Curve, had made people (economists especially) complacent and therefore didn’t see the risk of a financial crisis. Go listen to the lecture. I couldn’t make this up. Of course, Summers has long since abandoned that explanation. Will Cowen stick to complacency as his explanation for the economic doldrums? Will he repeat Summers’ Okun Lecture? Will ducks and horses have a place in the lecture?

19 rayward March 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm

To be clear, I believe there’s a lot to Cowen’s explanation (and Summers’ too). But I’d focus more on the 1%. A cause of the financial crisis was complacency among the investor class, complacent because all those financial innovations that were designed to avoid risk gave investors a false sense of security. Today, the investor class is complacent because they believe the Fed can avoid the worst of a financial crisis by implementing aggressive monetary stimulus, stopping the collapse in asset prices, and re-inflating asset prices. If complacency can cause such economic crises, then what’s the cause of complacency? Cowen provides a useful explanation. Much of the wealth of the last century was attributable to the dynamism of the industrialists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who created vast fortunes that they passed on to their heirs. The heirs, having inherited wealth, were more interested in capital preservation than capital formation and innovation. With each passing generation, however, the number of heirs multiplied, and it became increasingly unlikely that all of the heirs could maintain the standard of living to which they had become accustomed. Smart advisers suggested that the fortunes of the different families be combined into one large investment partnership, which could take on more risk with investments and realize a potentially much higher rate of return. Of course, the investment partnership is now the dominate feature of the investment landscape, run by bankers who amass great fortunes doing so, buying and selling entire companies to generate enormous profits, and engaging in sophisticated investment techniques made possible with complex algorithms designed by quants, the end result of which is to concentrate an ever increasing amount of the nation’s wealth in the hands of a decreasing percentage of Americans, who become complacent with their good fortune. Cowen’s book is a warning, a hair on fire warning, to the complacent 1%.

20 Boris_Badenoff March 7, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Economic subtext markets in everything!

I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy.

“Where can a young couple, without too much money, feeling hungry, feeling a bit peckish, go to find a really big frog, and a damned fine peach besides?”

21 dearieme March 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm

When we lived in NZ it was most un-PC to assert that the Maori had wiped out the big dicky-birds.

22 Mark Thorson March 7, 2017 at 6:15 pm

The birds went extinct because of global climate change! That’s been going on forever.

23 So Much For Subtlety March 7, 2017 at 6:28 pm

It is worse than that because the modern academic left insists, simultaneously, that indigenous people had great power to shape the environment around them (usually by burning it down which they tend not to mention) but that they also did not have the power to drive any animal into extinction. I suppose that if you assume they understood modern science better than modern scientists it makes sense.

I am not sure that burning the Great Plains or the rainforest or whatever is conducive to optimal biodiversity outcomes. But I could be convinced that Moa tasted great.

24 JWatts March 8, 2017 at 12:02 pm

“…but that they also did not have the power to drive any animal into extinction”

My ancestors were bad asses. They hunted the mammoth to the point of extinction and held their own against the cave bear and saber tooth tiger.

25 TSB March 7, 2017 at 8:47 pm

On visits to NZ in the past few years, every museum mention of the moa suggested extinction through hunting. I haven’t seen any other explanation proposed.

26 prior_test2 March 8, 2017 at 2:12 am

Don’t bring up facts here.

27 Axa March 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm

I was a bit surprised about the opinion against “anything shipped to your home–worry!”. People in large urban areas are close to stores. Living in a 800 hundred people town…..there’s only a lake, mountains and forests. I like to go out but I can’t buy a book, tires for the bike or a new laptop. Internet shopping is great, I can go to a city and enjoy it instead of spending most of time shopping.

28 widmerpool March 7, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Moa ate grass, ducks are omnivorous to carnivorous. Big ducks would be scarier than moas.

29 Ben March 7, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Reddit is the true bottom of the barrel, ground zero for millennial idiocy. Which is why one of the more sophisticated voices on the right got 20 upvotes.

If you wanna do well on Reddit you need to spend a lot of time talking about how there are no jobs at 4.5p unemployment, how great weed is, how serious racism is, how awesome radfem is, and especially about large scale UBI. Always with a tone suggesting greater degrees of victimization than expressed by most Holocaust victims.

30 Whatever March 7, 2017 at 6:05 pm

Sad but true.

31 Thomas Taylor March 7, 2017 at 6:21 pm

‘Cause there is nothing like RedPill, for instance, and the far-right is not well represented in Reddit.
“how serious racism is”
Governor Wallace, is it you?
“Which is why one of the more sophisticated voices on the right got 20 upvotes.” He should try to get those upvotes at Rush Limbaugh’s show.

32 Thiago Ribeiro March 7, 2017 at 6:35 pm

I am not a smoker or a drinker, those being antithetical to the Brazilian character, but I think I would ratejr have one of the most sophiaticated voices on the right talking about weed – for or against – than about duck-horses. I do not think society needs to spend much time or raw brain power srudying our duck-horse problem.

33 Mark Thorson March 7, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Easy to say before you come face-to-face with a moa.

34 Thiago Ribeiro March 7, 2017 at 7:21 pm

We will cross that bridge when we come to it, as we sayin Brazil. This hyper-hyped so-called moa crisis is probably decades in the future. Planning for it now means diverting society’s limited resources from uch more imediate and important problems. Also, once scientists know how to revive Moas, they probavly will know how to revive their predators like, I don’t know, T-Rex maybe. Thinks will be smoothed out. Life finds a way.

35 John March 8, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Seems that the underlying premise is that NZ’s ecology is fundamentally broken. A niche exists but no existing species is adapting to fill it?

Then again, what about the mutations that have occurred in response to the environmental changes since the Moa? Are they then doomed with the Moa’s return?

36 JWatts March 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm

“I am not a smoker or a drinker, those being antithetical to the Brazilian character,

That has to be parody.

37 Turkey Vulture March 8, 2017 at 12:40 pm

No true Brazilian smokes or drinks.

38 JWatts March 8, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Ah yes, the famous True Brazilian. I concede the point and the bagpipe.

39 coketown March 7, 2017 at 6:55 pm

I’m not a regular on Reddit and missed the AMA, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. His trolling on the Northern Ireland post was very funny and not subtle at all.

The AMA thread’s consensus on MR’s comment section was brutal but deserved. I wish more thoughtful readers would comment here. The infrequent commenters are often the best. But maybe that’s why they’re the best: having something to say versus having to say something and all.

This is the second or third time I’ve read Cowen refer to his home stereo as a ‘treasure.’ Now I’m curious: What is his setup? Has he found one that is proficient with all styles of music? Speaker-wise, B&W offers, to my ears, the most well-balanced competency, but either handles the source music with sophistication or doesn’t try at all. Fortunately 95% of my music sounds sublime through their CM-10s. But you can’t rock out with them. For that I prefer higher-end bombastic American speakers like GoldenEar. Unfortunately Tyler’s rig may remain a mystery since, by his admission, he doesn’t really read the MR comments.

40 Shane M March 7, 2017 at 8:00 pm

It was a bit disappointing when Tyler said he mostly ignores the comments. That probably discourages some potential good comments from being posted.

41 Cliff March 8, 2017 at 12:23 am

But what is the Straussian meaning? We know he reads the comments because he replies sometimes. But someone who does not read the comments regularly would not KNOW that.

42 Cliff March 8, 2017 at 12:41 am

Ah, just read it: “I only remove overt obscenity, libel, and racism when I spot them. I don’t spend that much time looking at the comments section, would rather write more posts. I say just ignore them.” Definitely Straussian

43 prior_test2 March 8, 2017 at 2:20 am

Thanks for the quote – very amusing.

44 Ben March 7, 2017 at 8:39 pm

With reddit, the mean level of sophistication is deplorable and the span is not large. Average reading comprehension isn’t above 9th grade. Moreover the community is extremely homogeneous in terms of its political beliefs (UBI, drugs, Big Daddy Govt, strong forms of political correctness) and the vast majority of subreddits censor even the slightest bit of dissent.

MR has a lot of deplorables but also has a higher average level of philosophical diversity, much higher average level of sophistication, and most of all much higher openness to experience.

45 Mc March 7, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Well said Ben; even though MR is a time-sink, where one thinks the things one has thunk, have pertinence.

46 prior_test2 March 8, 2017 at 2:17 am

‘since, by his admission, he doesn’t really read the MR comments’

Somebody does – who else here read, much less commented on, that Samsung TV story, inspired by Catherine Rampell’s twitter feed?

The one where a comment (yes, some cannot resist the lure of false modesty) linked to a Feb. Register story concerning the point of the post – from Feb. 2015.

47 Strick March 7, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Surely we haven’t forgotten the theory that dinosaurs are still with us — just evolved into birds. Wouldn’t that make a horse sized duck the equivalent of pretty serious sized dino-style Velociraptor?

48 msgkings March 8, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Most birds are vicious remorseless predators, and if crows were human sized they would eviscerate every human they see.

49 Thiago Ribeiro March 7, 2017 at 7:13 pm

“The AMA thread’s consensus on MR’s comment section was brutal but deserved.” My opinion on Reddit AMAs is even more brutal and deserved.

50 Ray Lopez March 7, 2017 at 9:04 pm

This answer by TC is clearly wrong, as Strick says. The 100 small horses would be like a pack of jackrabbits, hardly worth working about. The moa sized duck could easily split your skull (like the real moa did, have you seen the beak on those bird? Like a huge bald eagle). Ducks are aggressive, though not as bad as swans or chickens (from personal experience, I raises them in the Philippines). They are pretty fast too, and a horse sized duck would be hard to outrun.

51 John March 8, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Well, we don’t really know how well their shape or skeletal/muscular structure scales in size with respect to speed so ….

52 Mc March 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm

“The idea that a sound polity has to be based on ideas other than just redistribution of wealth.” Resounding!

53 Russell March 7, 2017 at 11:46 pm

My Mahler 8 scepticism has been largely overcome by the Tennstedt DVD.

54 anonymous March 8, 2017 at 12:17 am

I just read the whole thread – it had the best explanation of Straussian I have read since I read Ravelstein (saying what you mean in a way that will not be understood by those who are not at least a little specifically sympathetic, because the world is not as friendly as it seems: also, a full appreciation for Greek and Hebrew heritage; and much more). I also learned that Cowen and Cowherd share the same first syllable, who knew? Professor Cowen, who has been disagreed with about 10.000 times on his comment section, agreed with 3 or 4 Reddit questioners that lots of the comments (lots is a cool word, I am fluent in Russian and French and they do not have an equivalent term – lack of sophisticated local political thought, perhaps) are from people who might not be good (I have been disagreed with, as a mere anonymous commenter, about 20 times, and only twice did the person who disagreed with me seem like someone not obviously good – I mean obviously not good – but Professor Cowen has exponentially more experience than I do at being thuggishly insulted, plus he is not anonymous, so the rude disagreements are all the more rude….and I am so glad that he does not read the comments here all that much, I would feel so bad for him if he did – and that includes all of mine). Well, I almost like the comment section here the way it is – I wish there were more pro-life commenters, as that is the issue that exposes the sophistry of so many of the vegan issue enthusiasts and the migration issue enthusiasts and the income disparity issue enthusiasts – well, it is good that sophistry, an attribute of persons, not an essence of persons, be made more or less clear, and I will leave it at that. To the left, I like the Aaronson and Alexander comment sections too but those are populated with rich coddled people who have not been ground down by life, as so many of the commenters here have been. People here do not preen , they call out for attention from the sad places this world has put them in. That is useful information. The single-issue trolls seem to get bored quickly. Notes on similar comment sections – Slightly to the left, the Althouse comment section is a disaster when they are not trying to be funny – for example, Ann might write something sympathetic about Sonny and Cher’s beautiful and kind-hearted child ( a female to male transgender person, who is of course fundamentally unsound on the pro-life issue, but that is not what bothers the Ann Althouse commenters, for the record) and you can easily read 50 middle-of-the-road commenters in a row – not 49 out of 50, but 50 in a row – cruelly mocking transgender and intersex people. Not at all to the left, the Steve Sailer comment section is better than this one with respect to accuracy but attracts people who are sort of like Bobby Fischer. Lots of them. Well life is short and I do not read many comment sections, so what do I know. Twitter is nice because the Twitter people are their own comment section, so you can trust them once you have figured out they are reliable – but learning is harder than it seems when you realize nobody has anything to teach anyone, strictly speaking. So I don’t read Twitter stuff much. Very nice Reddit performance, Tyler. But how can you be so smart and not be pro-life? Or is how better pronounced why? Also, Coltrane must have been amazing live. He wasted his life, of course…either you love music or you don’t, and if you don’t, a life in music will be wasted – but perhaps he had no better choices. And those listening to him live were correctly amazed even if they would have been wrong if they thought they were listening to a genius. Life is funny that way.

55 anonymous March 8, 2017 at 12:25 am

So.. Coltrane live, underrated, Coltrane recorded, overrated. There are lots of underrated live and/ or recorded jazz musicians from the 1950s. Music in general is underrated, right?

56 anonymous March 8, 2017 at 12:56 am

Shakespeare and Homer live, underrated, Shakespeare and Homer on the page, overrated. Even the best of humanities studies are finite. (See my 12:50 AM comment)

57 anonymous March 8, 2017 at 12:28 am

“Genius is the capacity to make on our stiff frozen imagination the impact that any real book makes on a child’s imagination.” Don Colacho. “It is a shame … to play chess badly.” Alexandra Kosteniuk.

58 anonymous March 8, 2017 at 12:50 am

{Good} Christians do not care much about miracles:a miracle is God looking out after his own affairs and they prefer looking after them for Him (Bernanos). Definitely true, maybe true, probably not true, 5 percent true, definitely not true?

59 anonymous March 8, 2017 at 1:12 am

I saw a miracle – not a symbolic miracle, a real miracle – in 1986 — and another one, which might have been symbolic but was probably real, in 2000 (I think it was 2000 anyway, I was too young to really be aware what year it was). I have thought about it and I think hundreds of thousands of people have seen miracles as clear or clearer than the one or two I saw. Well, I for one prefer God’s miracles to looking out for God’s affairs for him, but I am not a good Christian. I would like to be but I am not. Maybe, as Popeye’s friend liked to say, next Tuesday.

60 chrisare March 8, 2017 at 3:06 am

I was surprised there were a number of complaints about comments here and suggestions improve them. Even with the occasional unsavory comment, I think the freewheeling and intelligent nature of comments makes them often more entertaining and interesting than the original posts. We would lose that to an extent with more active moderating.

Perhaps I don’t get the movement to scrub away anything that poses the risk of offending.

61 Turkey Vulture March 8, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Strongly agree.

62 msgkings March 8, 2017 at 2:03 pm


63 JWatts March 8, 2017 at 12:43 pm


Though I would be in favor of a login system with passwort that protects peoples identities from obvious trolling.

64 John March 8, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Well, the horse-sized duck may well see a human as food where the duck-size horse most certainly would not. Moreover, the risk of being trampled by the flock or horses seem very small.

65 Turkey Vulture March 8, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Ducks, like penguins, are assholes. We do not need horse-sized quacking assholes.

Duck-sized horses would be a useful innovation. Like pig-sized elephants.

66 msgkings March 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm

“horse-sized quacking assholes”

Must…..resist…..Trump joke….

67 Turkey Vulture March 8, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I believe his theory is that he is hung like a horse, not that he is actually a horse.

68 Turkey Vulture March 8, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Badly-executed joke. Please strike everything after the comma, replace the comma with a period, and italicize “hung.”

69 John March 8, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Not being on Reddit or having know about the AMA but feeling like I would like to pose a question:
Tyler, do you think the greatest human truths are found in fiction or non-fiction? Why?

70 Brett Dunbar March 8, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Dromornis stirtoni was about 3 m tall and weighed something like 650 kg and and was arguably a duck. Dromornithids were either stem galliforms or stem anseriformes (chickens and ducks respectively). Genyornis the last dromornithid became extinct shortly after humans reached Australia. Apparently we’re bad for giant ducks.

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