Podcast with Robin Hanson

Self-recommending, I don’t even have to listen (the audio would wake a sleeping Natasha, though it seems my typing does not) to know it is great.


That's funny, 'cause the audio put my wife to sleep. But I was fascinated from start to finish. Russ can't help but remain incredulous of the degree to which Robin believes that signalling holds explanatory power (sorry for the inarticulate phrasing here), but it works great throughout.

I don't know much about public choice. But, I find it hard to believe that their position is that altruism does not exist. And harder to believe that a paper that says "yes, altruism exists!" completely refutes their thesis.

I've been in and out of "public" sector a bit, and to me I'd say the prime distinction is not altruism versus mercenary...ism-but entrepreneurialism versus bureaucracy. All organizations, public, private, and government have aspects of all.

In a world with scarce time, will you spend your time doing something that rewards you or not? And, in your particular environment, does looking helpful but following the rules provide the rewards, or does appearing to be a go-getter provide the rewards?

I'll tell you one thing, the least altruistic and most mercenary place I've seen is graduate school.

paraphrasing Robin Hanson: "In gifts, it's common signals of quality that matter, not private signals of quality."

I responded to this at length here.

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