I discuss *Stubborn Attachments* with Russ Roberts

by on August 8, 2017 at 4:23 am in Books, Economics, Philosophy | Permalink

Here is the podcast and partial transcript.  Russ describes it as follows:

Tyler Cowen of George Mason University and the co-host of the blog Marginal Revolution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about Stubborn Attachments, his book-length treatment of how to think about public policy. Cowen argues that economic growth–properly defined–is the moral key to maintaining civilization and promoting human well-being. Along the way, the conversation also deals with inequality, environmental issues, and education.


1 Rich Berger August 8, 2017 at 6:41 am

Now that TC has made it to Econtalk, I shall surely listen.

Speaking of stubborn attachments, Google very quickly got her man -https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-08/google-fires-employee-behind-controversial-diversity-memo. I suspected that they couldn’t let “harmful gender stereotypes” spread within their enlightened community.

Which got me to thinking. If Google is so quick to put down heretical thoughts within, how straight are they playing with the search results? Over the weekend, I was curious what our most recent former president was doing and found out that he was on Martha’s Vineyard, for a group tongue bath, er birthday celebration. Yesterday, I checked again with “Obama vacation” and the top results were uniformly about Trump’s vacation and how he was a hypocrite since he used to criticize Obama for golfing too much. Leaving aside Obama’s lazy style of “management” and Trump’s legendary work ethic, my top results were a little echo chamber of TDS from all the usual failing sources.

Why would Google not tilt the field during the election and on and on? Wouldn’t they see any favorable results for Trump as promoting “harmful political views”? Incidentally, the same effect, perhaps a bit less politically biased, comes up when I look for sports stories: the top results seem usually to be the same story from multiple sources. Lazy reporting.

Google gives the illusion of instant omniscience, but maybe there is a bit of a scam going on, all in the service of commerce and political slant. Maybe a better search engine can be devised by all the software engineers who are clearly not welcome in the Google monoculture.

2 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 7:58 am

‘how straight are they playing with the search results’

You are seriously asking this question after this? ‘Google was today hit with a record antitrust fine of €2.42bn (£2.1bn) from the European Union today for promoting its own shopping search service over those of smaller rivals.

The regulator found that Google had abused its market dominance as a search engine “by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service,” it said.

European regulators gave the tech giant 90 days to stop its illegal activities or face fines of up to 5 per cent of the average daily worldwide turnover of parent company Alphabet. That currently amounts to around $14m a day.

The commission has the power to fine Google’s parent up to 10 per cent of its annual revenue, which was more than $90bn (£70.8bn).’ https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/06/27/google_record_antitrust_fine_europe/

3 dan1111 August 8, 2017 at 11:05 am

Lame, bogus, innovation killing finding by the EU regulators. Google didn’t bias the search result rankings, they showed the shopping service results as a separate element. This is little different than showing relevant ads alongside the results from their ad service.

4 triclops41 August 8, 2017 at 11:40 am

Calls to mind the EU’s stupid ruling about bundling browsers with Windows.

5 Thiago Ribeiro August 8, 2017 at 10:57 am

“If Google is so quick to put down heretical thoughts within, how straight are they playing with the search results?”
The answer is “we don’t know”. They can be playing with the search results as they play with their workforce or they can understand that they are allowed to play with latter, but are implicitly forbidden to play with the former (unless they tell us they are doing so). The fact we don’t know should be much more worrying than the fact they are liberals, conservatives or communists. After all, Google would have anyway corporate interests they would love to support.

6 Moo cow August 8, 2017 at 11:10 am

Why would anyone care about Obama’s vacation? Besides you, that is.

7 Rich Berger August 8, 2017 at 11:43 am

I wanted to know what the leader of The Resistance was up to. He had better write that book quickly before his legacy fades away.

8 Dick the Butcher August 8, 2017 at 7:39 am

Government, public policy and stubborn attachment explained in on sentence, “Government is where bad ideas go to achieve immortality.” Stephen Green at Instapundit.

9 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 7:52 am

Self recommended, actually.

10 Butler T. Reynolds August 8, 2017 at 9:01 am

This is like Doublemint gum for me. “Double your pleasure, double your fun.”

11 Rich Berger August 8, 2017 at 10:19 am

I just finished listening to the podcast and enjoyed it very much. I didn’t agree with everything, but agreed with a lot and found many of the ideas stimulating of further thought.

12 Brian Donohue August 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

That was good. I liked your pithy defense of the carbon tax.

13 Sandia August 9, 2017 at 6:08 am

Was interested in the quasi religious transcendence portion of podcast. What mission is supposed to make humans believe their survival and population growth over long periods of time is important in some way?

14 Tom Barson August 9, 2017 at 8:33 pm

This was a great podcast. One thing – about the efficient concentrations you mention, like NYC and the Bay area. Does not full endorsement of this dynamic leave us with a very big hinterland problem? In the podcast on your Complacent Class book, you mention that it’s a bad thing that we are sorting ourselves into monocultures, but isn’t that exactly what is being driven by NYC/SF phenomenon?

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