People who deserve to be raised in status

Let’s stick with the living, here are a few who come to mind:

Adam Minter

Charles C. Mann

Laura Miller (formerly of, now of Slate)

Ted and Dana Gioia

Christopher Balding

Fuchsia Dunlop

Stephen King

Arnold Kling

Kendrick Lamar

Viktor Zhadanov

Chow Yun Fat

To be clear, I am not suggesting these people are deficient or lacking in status, rather that it should be higher yet.  Or maybe it is the list of people who should decline in status which interests you more


No Steve Sailer?

Do you want Tyler to be one of the people to decline in status?

Ron Unz and Wick Allison should be lower status.

No Ray Lopez?

Yeah -- I would love to see the same post but applied to commenters...

(On second thought, I would not like to see that post.)


Steven King? He's a bit overrated IMO, a hack writer, though he does write non-fiction too (I have his book on gun control, unread). Only Clive Barker is worse.

Clive Barker (Books of blood) is more original than any Stephen King I know. Why do you think he's worse? In this genre I think China Mieville and Thomas LIgotti should have a higher status.

Very disappointing

People, this is Tyler Cowen's new People Magazine.

No, People Magazine has established the baseline status and Tyler is merely riffing off their status-making. For example, People magazine sets Kling's status at zero and Tyler wishes it to be slightly more.

Or maybe he's riffing off Time? NYT? I have no idea

The Straussian read is that Tyler's list lowers the status of the status-makers.

No Thiago Ribeiro?

Now that you mentioned it, I must admit that I always thought I am somewhat criminally underrated by lesser minds (almost everyone else). Maybe I am one of those people whose contributions are so brilliant and fundamental that it takes time to fully assess them. "Some men are born posthumously", Nietzsche taught after someone stole his vowels. As the man who thought he was Napoleon, in Brazilian writer Machado de Assis' romance Quincas Borba, told the woman who was giving him her nephew's pants to replace his rain-soked ones: "Your nephew's nephews are the ones who will see me in all my glory."

Vaclav Smil deserves to be raised in status

Well Bill Gates is doing a fine job of that.

NOT Stephen King. He's a blithering idiot.

Hardly an idiot, but he is keen on imposing arbitrary preferences, that's for sure.

He's not really an idiot, but he is fond of making idiotic comments.

Although very sympathetic to the post that spawned this, I had by doubts about the exercise. Now I read it, it's even less satisfying than I thought it would be. When you don't include the analysis, I can't learn anything new.

Imagine someone says "The choice of camera work in David Fincher's films comes from a deliberate decision to present an abstract, omniscient perspective, rather than showing you things from the perspective of individual characters. This works very well for the kind of stories he directs." This isn't just saying "David Fincher should be higher-status", it's also giving me (someone who doesn't know much about film) a greater appreciation for what directors do and how films are put together.

I imagine from the perspective of someone for whom the analysis is fairly shallow, this might seem like saying "yay David Fincher", but to me it might change the way I view cinema for the rest of my life. One of the things I particularly value about your analysis is that it clues me into why features of that analysis are interesting in their own right, regardless of which direction they push an issue.

So David Fincher up or down?

Fincher up.
Nolan down.

Finchers' highs are higher than Nolan, but his lows are lower.

I think not providing reasons is the point...

I get that, but you may be missing my point.

In the original post Tyler suggests that his analyses feel like tiresome shop-dressing for status games. I am proposing that perhaps they feel like that to him because they are not novel, insightful or exciting from his perspective. They are from mine.

Admittedly, they probably wouldn't be as exciting if they didn't feature agents that could go up or down in my estimations. If The West Wing were a series of abstract scenarios an unspecified White House staff might experience, we probably wouldn't watch it.

The Viktor Zhadanov who eradicated smallpox passed in 1987. Is there someone else with that name you are thinking of?

Was also wondering about this one. Also, I think he was Zhdanov (one less 'a' than Tyler's spelling).

I mean, I found this guy, but I doubt he is the correct person:

Tyler is from New Jersey, though, so...

Gary Lutz. For once somebody writes something extraordinary, style-wise, and not a soul pays heed.

This is Tyler trying to be Gary Lutz, but with people.

Vonnegut tried this in Palm Sunday and it just showed he needed an editor.

I always thought the trick about sentences is letting the reader find one, and feel like he found a $20 bill. I've leave it to the peanut gallery whether that $20 bill is real or not.

I agree that the list isn't satisfying for me.

For me, the bar for interest includes links to "justification" (e.g. Book you loved, article worth reading, etc.).

Adam Minter, Charles Balding, Fuchsia Dunlop all are people trying to understand China from a Western perspective. Since China seems pretty important and we don't know much about it and the Chinese themselves aren't that helpful, this seems correct.

Charles C. Mann writes great books and hope he rises to the status he deserves.

Laura Miller is good at her job, but I can't remember a review she's written. On the other hand I remember a half dozen of Heather Havrilesky's TV columns on Salon, so I may just be a bad person who likes TV.

Ted Gioia lists are fascinating and I've tried to listen to things off them only to go back to listening to stuff I listened to in high school. Again, I'm a pretty bad person. I didn't know his dad was an impressive person.

I think Stephen King's early books get the status they deserve, but I guess some of the later ones are good, too and deserve higher standing. His book "On Writing" seem liked pretty good advice even though I'm not a writer.

Lamar might be a genius, but the last thing he needs is a bunch of over-40 white people saying they are into him.

I enjoyed some of Fat's movies and can't think of one I didn't like, but he came off as a huge jerk in an interview I read long time ago, so not sure about that one.

Arnold Kling always says sensible, useful things and deserves a NYTimes column or something.

Please write more about Kendrick Lamar -- would be curious to hear your thoughts.

Seconded! I'd be interested in hearing Cowen's thoughts on hip-hop in general, too

I'd be interested in hearing one of Tyler's patented "Straussian" readings of Kendrick Lamar. My own take is that Kendrick knows his beliefs will be bound to offend both his black audience and his white audience, so he tries to deploy them in a knotty, roundabout, under-the-radar manner -- that's basically what's going on in "Blacker the Berry."

And I agree Kentrick deserves to be more highly esteemed -- he's a contender for the title of best writer in America right now.

Yeah, but twice through To Pimp a Butterfly and I'd really had enough of the spoken word poem.


I actually want his take on dubstep and trap. Hip hop and rap are so last decade.

Elizabeth Holmes

Edna Adan Ismail, Malalai Joya

I hope this doesn't mean a 'People who deserve to be lowered in status' post is coming next.

At least you didn't say 'Bryan Caplan'.


Though I suspect that Tyler thinks that being a member of his GMU circle automatically means one has the highest possible status, hence the omission of Caplan.

and farmers everywhere

Why should these people be considered for anything? Is raising their status actually a possibility or is it an illusion like accepting friends on Facebook?
Putting forth a list of people whose status should be raised begs one question which hasn't been asked: Why?
The answer is not implicit in any way.
If the experiment is to develop critical thinking, it has not succeeded. Most people have joined in with the idea that status raising is a good thing, even though it basically has no meaning (raising status from what and to whom, and for what end?)

+1. My thoughts exactly except instead of 'why', let's start with 'what' -- as in, 'what' is this status thing you are referring too and too 'whom' should it matter (your last point)? 'Status' == broad-based popularity? 'status' == acknowledgement within a profession? 'status' == Facebook?

My concern is that this conversation devolves, without a proper thought framework and ambiguous terms, just as the VSP one did.

But, given it's original conception, that it would induce a mass amount of comments, maybe that is exactly the point.

Status is a person's position in the status hierarchy, how much the people admire and respect someone.

Take an example, Cowen has advocated that the social status of scientists be raised. It's obvious how this would benefit society.

I can think of a group of people whose social status should be lowered: actors and actresses.

The trouble emerges when aspiration conflicts with present conditions. You might like the status of schoolteachers to be raised, so we attract better ones than those we have. Then you have clergymen, amongst whom status and quality are falling pari passu.

I'd point out that status is multivalent. Lawyers are low status and high status at the same time.

Indeed -- hence my call for additional parameters. I do think Jason is interpreting Tyler properly though as I also thought immediately about Tyler's post advocating the increase in 'status' of scientists generally.

Is Tyler, who is an extension of the Mercatus Center, advocating a grassroots effort to raise the status of individuals or groups based on the ideas of respect, admiration and societal benefit?

Here's what Cowen wrote about raising the social status of scientists in The Great Stagnation:

When it comes to motivating human beings, status often matters at least as much as money. I
would like to see both incentives pointing in the right direction. Right now, scientists do not
earn enough status and appreciation. While scientists are not, in American society, a low status
group, neither are they thought of as especially high status either. Science doesn’t have the cache of law, medicine, or high finance. Few women or men dream of dating or marrying a scientist. Yet, upon reflection, are we not capable of finding Leonardo da Vinci the scientist as sexy and exciting as Leonardo da Vinci the artist?

I was struck when Norman Borlaug died in 2009. Borlaug, as you may know, was a leader of
the “Green Revolution” and the inventor of more robust seeds and crop varieties, which were
then used in India, Africa, and many other poorer parts of the world. It is no exaggeration to
say that Borlaug’s work saved the lives of millions of human beings by preventing starvation.
Yet when Borlaug died, most Americans still did not know who he was. The press covered his
passing, but in a low-key manner, even though one of the most important people of his era
had died. In my ideal world, Borlaug would have a much higher social status than he did.

Jack Goldstone’s work on the origins of the industrial revolution in England and Scotland
shows the importance of a culture of science, as presented in his book Why Europe? Goldstone
shows that the British Isles made such powerful eighteenth-century breakthroughs in science
by developing a coherent and well functioning culture of science and engineering. China, in
contrast, had a lot of wealth for the time, but they did not have a comparable culture of
science and thus the industrial revolution came first to the West. Today, Singapore has a
remarkable culture, according enormous status and respect to scientific and engineering
creativity; we can think of that city-state as a kind of modern-day Periclean Athens but with
different gods. My vision of science having more status in society is not utopian daydreaming,
because we see it in some parts of the world today.

Here's another example of the importance of social status. From Robert Locke's Japan, Refuation of Neoliberalism:

The income differential between a Japanese CEO and an assembly-line worker in his company
is much less than in America, but the social-status difference is much greater. This does not
consist in a system of static class differences not identical with economic differences, as in
Britain, which the Japanese rightly see as producing class antagonisms which harm social
cooperation. It consists in a dynamic social status system embodied in such oddities as the fact
that Japanese grammar itself expresses the difference in status between the interlocutors, the
Japanese reverence for hierarchy, and a lot else.

The Japanese have understood that what people are largely pursuing in the workplace is not so
much money as the respect of the people around them, and therefore maintain a sophisticated
– indeed, bizarrely over-elaborate to the Western eye – economy of respect in addition to the
economy of money. They have understood that a large part of what money-seeking individuals
really want is just to spend that money on purchasing social respect, though status display or
whatever, so it is far more efficient to allocate respect directly.

Did you really think people as obviously intelligent as the Japanese were doing all those oddlooking
bows for nothing? Sure, these behaviors are derived from tradition, but there’s a reason
they kept these traditions and the West hasn’t. Interestingly, this understanding on their part of
the need for unapologetic status differentials contradicts the emphasis in Western socialism on
a culture of equality.

Locke gives an example of the importance of status in a particularly Japanese context. In America, we don't give bureaucrats higher status than we give any upper class person. Japan is different:

Why are Japan’s bureaucrats so effective? Well, an American can start by looking at those
American bureaucrats who are generally conceded by most people outside the far left to be
effective: the military. The two salient characteristics of the military hierarchy in the US are that
it has a governing ideology of nationalism and it is motivated by non-economic rewards.

Japanese bureaucrats at the MOF are the same. Like 5-star generals, they are no more than
reasonably paid, but their real reward is in the form of status: they are recognized everywhere
as outranking people hundreds of times richer than they are. They can demand to be
recognized as equals by anyone in their society and as superiors by all but a few.,%20Refutation%20of%20Neoliberalism.pdf

That was written in 2004, before we saw clearly how disastrous the Iraq war was.

Nice quotes! +10

Thanks for these. Common culture, tradition and nationalism seem to be the prevailing influential factors in the respect-market. The Japanese workplace quote is notable and corresponds to the reason why some of the employees left the $70k minimum wage corp that was linked the other day.

before we saw clearly how disastrous the Iraq war was.

The Iraq war was rendered 'disastrous' by the failure to anticipate ISIS. Antecedent to that, it was a 'disaster' only to people who did not wish to win it to begin with.

Pumpkin Person

Tyler, in the Meek Mill / Drake feud, who should be raised in status and who should be lowered in status?

They should both be lowered in status. Rap ain't what it used to be... or maybe I'm getting old. *shudders*

Rap is what it always has been -- missing a 'c'.

The Replacement Killers is in many way s a perfect motion picture.

I'm interested in seeing Tyrone's list.


Maybe Tyrone has on his list that dentist-hunter guy that everyone is vilifying.

Actually, I was hoping that Tyler would stick up for him.

I will bite that lure. While I think "the dentist" is victim of a typical twitter fed frenzy, there is an important difference (learned by me from Fish and Game guys) between hunters and animal killers. Hunters basically want to make an ethical kill, and fill the freezer (and less often the mantle). Animal killers like to kill things.

I'd worry about any "health care professional" who liked to kill things.

more briefly, tell me my choices for surgeon are a vegan and a big game hunter, I think I'll take the vegan.

I look with at least some suspicion upon a list where I suspect sequential entries may have been generated by rhyme scheme rather than deliberation of merit. I'd keep Kling and boot King.

The misspelling(?) of Zhadanov proves conclusively this is a Straussian post the means the opposite.

And why is "Chow Yun Fat" on that list?

MR Commenters who deserve to be lowered in status:

Anyone with posting habits repetitious enough to have earned a parody account.

Can somebody please explain why "inhabitants of the province Presidente Hayes, in Paraguay" deserve to be lower in status in Tyler's estimation?

-Angela Merkel
-Enrique Pena Nieto
-Ashraf Ghani
-Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

I'm on-board for raising the status of anyone who can be described as being "formerly of"

Or at least not "currently of"

I'd agree with that, but the follow on (now with means the previous Status was probably about right.

No rapper deserves to be raised in status: they are both sub-par poets and musicians whose success depends on the image they can cultivate and sell.

Alex Tabarrok should be lowered.

In the one area I understand very well - intellectual property - Alex makes very foolish comments on the topic. It makes me wonder about other subjects I am not as familiar with, that Alex could also be blowing smoke on those topics.

His primary talent is exactly that. The set of things he knows anything about is very small and totally worthless.

Tony Leung of 2046 should have a rise in status!!

If we are going to discuss Hong Kong actors who have not really made a great movie in the past ten tears, or in CYF's case the last twenty, I will have to nominate the Jacky Cheung who was never even fully appreciated for his acting in Hong Kong where he is most known for crooning. He can do comedy, action, and drama, and did by far the best Jacky Chan/Bruce Lee parody of all time in the criminally underappreciated "High Risk" by the also hugely underappreciated low rent movie mogul Wong Jing.

I wonder if there is more disagreement between readers/writers about perceived status of a list element (people in this case), or of deserved status.

Kyle Kinane, Shinyribs, Randy Forbes

Really, LA rappers in general rather than just Kendrick.

This is not cute anymore, dear.

How do you determine what the status is today? Similar to making pronouncements about markets -- more time should be spent looking at what's priced in today vs issuing your opinion about what is happening today.

I second Adam Minter. Everyone should read Junkyard Planet

"Ted and Dana Gioia"

There are two of them? Uh-oh, I guess I'll have to cut my estimate of Gioa's status is half.

The problem with these lists is they pick people who already havr high status, Kendrick Lamar? This whole week I have heard that he has written the new "We Shall Overcome" on things like public radio while his stuff blares from car stereos in both the ghetto and upper middle class white suburbia. He has been loading up on establishment awards for a couple years now. So what exactly should be his status?

The second coming of Marvin Gay? Bigger than Bob Marley?

How about just saying that Meryl Streep needs her status raised.

Meryl Streep, unlike Jerry Lewis, to whom it does no good, has almost no artistic status outside the Anglosphere. She lives for her family, I am told, which, if true, is a wonderful thing. She did make, once, a statement that she might have cobbled from Proust, or from someone less genial, but which may have been a genuine expression of her own experience : she explained that she was constantly sad in her youth at her lack of real charming and feminine beauty; then, years went by, and when her daughters became beautiful young women, she finally realized that she, too, had been a beautiful young woman (which I, a normal young person, could have told her back in the 70s, but apparently she was not surrounded by normal young people). She is not a bad actress, but Jessica Simpson in Employee of the Month and Dawn Wells in Lost and even that French woman in Inception gave performances that were as far beyond her as the first ten cantos of Paradise Lost would be beyond Paul Krugman.

Donald Shoup. His work is more relevant than ever due to sky high rents in LA.

William Tucker

William Fischel

Clint Bolick

William Mellor

Swap Kendrick Lamar with Chance the Rapper, who is just as good but only 22 years old (not that Kendrick is old - he's not - but he's old enough to have attained a high status), he has a lot more range, and most importantly has yet to drop a solo album.

I must admit: I am very surprised to see so many comments to a post that literally just lists people whose status the author wants to raise. Tyler has proven his point, even after priming people to be aware of responding to posts that do nothing other than try to raise or lower someone's status.

So the content of the comments is irrelevant, just the quantity? Would fewer comments have lowered the status of this post sufficiently for you?

Yeah Tyler, where that praising of Vaclav Smil at?

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