Wednesday assorted links

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5. Sumner is a very smart guy and knows lots about monetary policy, but the best time to debate the finer points of monetary stimulus may not be when the economy is crashing. Being the smartest person in the room doesn't mean always having to prove it. Can smart people be trusted in positions of real authority?

"Sumner is a very smart guy and knows lots about monetary policy, but the best time to debate the finer points of monetary stimulus may not be when the economy is crashing (...) Can smart people be trusted in positions of real authority?"
"If not them, who? If not now, when?"

Nothing wrong with smart people, I wish we had more of them in all occupations but politics. Really smart people tend to do dumb things in authority because they think they know better than the rest of us what's for our own good.

Yeah, it's better to have dumb people in charge.

Nixon was a mess of a person, but not because he was smart. And he actually got a lot of good things done.

And again, smart is better than dumb.

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We can thank Nixon for the EPA.

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Wage and price controls, got the war on drugs started with a bang, what's not to like?

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"We can thank Nixon for the EPA"

& you can thank the EPA for cleaning up America's waterways over forty years

http://civileats.com/2011/03/24/the-epa-cleaning-up-crappy-water-since-1970/

Old enough to remember this? http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/04/cuyahoga_river_fire_galvanized.html

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Dumb people (or, at least not super smart people) are ok in power as long as they know that they arent the smartest person in the room. The problem with smart people in power is that they believe that they are smarter and more knowledgable about subjects than people who have studied that subject their whole lives. For example, Robert McNamara. Smart guy, but not as smart about military subjects as he thought he was. But sadly smart enough to convince himself that he was right and everyone else was wrong.

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@carlolspln you might find this interesting http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=333140

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The problem with smart people in power is that they believe that they are smarter and more knowledgable about subjects than people who have studied that subject their whole lives.

That's actually a pretty insightful observation.

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MOFO. November 18, 2015 at 7:10 pm

The problem with smart people in power is that they believe that they are smarter and more knowledgable about subjects than people who have studied that subject their whole lives.

Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation. When David Plouffe, his campaign manager, first interviewed for a job with him in 2006, the senator gave him a warning: “I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” he said. “It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign’s political director. “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Obama told him. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Reagan was widely derided as dumb. Well maybe he was. But he looked at the Soviet Union and famously decided that the West should win. The smart people were calling for co-existence. He wanted to end an evil system.

It is the international relations equivalent of Susan Sontag saying that the hicks who read Reader's Digest were better informed about the Cold War than all the smart people who listened to academics.

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"Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation."

Well, he won twice so perhaps his estimation was accurate.

In the Sontag quote you have in mind, she compares someone "who read only the Reader's Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or [t]he New Statesman." The comparison is not with "smart" people "who listened to academics." Academics like Hannah Arendt and Richard Pipes to give just two examples were highly critical of the Soviet Union.

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One person can be smarter than another or 10 people, but not more than the collective wisdom of 1000 or 10,000.

Government needs to move away from the principle of a leader - who in the past might have had access to more information than the crowd - and toward a decentralized decision-making model akin to the betting markets.

While the amount of information in the world approaches a doubling every 12 hours we inexplicably seem to be vesting more and more power in the center.

"One person can be smarter than another or 10 people, but not more than the collective wisdom of 1000 or 10,000."

Without quite a bit of qualification, this is just a TED Talk-style over-simplification. 10,000 people won't be able to solve Maxwell's equations, accurately assess guilt or innocence in a legal case (a jury might but then see some of the research on jury decisions in medical malpractice cases) or guess the foreign aid budget of the United States (no Googling allowed). Averages or group collaboration sometimes produce great results and other times produce disasters depending on the context.

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Really smart people don't go into politics in the first place because it's such a dirty business. That leaves the field open for the mediocrities whose reach exceeds their grasp.

This isn't a new observation and Teddy Roosevelt's response was, in so many words, that smart people need to get over their hypocritical preening, grow a pair and step into the ring. Refusing to sully oneself with "dirty" politics is like refusing to sully oneself with manual labor. It's a sneering pseudo-aristocratic attitude at odds with the idea of a republic.

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"Look, I know we were just attacked by Japan, but now is not the time to explain that carriers are more important than battleships. Maybe after this war is over we can discuss this."

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"Can smart people be trusted in positions of real authority?"

Who is to make that decision? Smart people? Dumb people? Average people? Majorities?

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I didn't state the issue very well, so I will give a real-life example. In his book, Tim Geithner took great delight in reminding readers that he, like his one-time mentor, is not an economist, he is a (self-described) crisis manager. Hence, he was not out to affirm this or that economic theory or model. Would an academic economist who has devoted his life's work to a particular theory or model be free of mind to take whatever actions might work in the heat of a financial crisis, even if those actions were in conflict with (or direct defiance of) that theory or model? What is a "smart" person in a crisis? [I'm not singling out Sumner - I could use Paul Krugman to raise the same issue.]

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4b) "Every person we meet, every nation we visit, is an exception to the rules - but it's still a good idea to know the rules."

If you can only know one, should you know the rule, or that it fails with "every person we meet?"

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"3. “Yet as forbidding as Europa’s surface may be, just a few kilometers below lies the largest ocean in the known Universe.”

Ars Technica's writing continues to go down hill. Europa's entire surface area is on;y 20% the size of the Pacific Ocean. Granted, if the ocean is really deep it could be of greater volume, but that's pretty speculative.

I will say that the underlying article is good and my comment was probably too harsh.

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I'd describe it as uneven and agenda-driven. This article didn't bother me, and their long-form articles on pure nerdery that appear from time to time can be great. But there are some topics, like net neutrality, on which they are just unreadable. It's like they've never even considered huge swaths of information.

I just started reading this one: http://arstechnica.com/science/2015/07/no-a-checklist-error-did-not-almost-derail-the-first-moon-landing/

Couldnt say it better myself. Id say they are a lot like Vox in that aspect, some articles are very good, others are almost indistinguishable from propaganda.

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Quotes like this really annoy me - using an extreme like "biggest, largest, warmest in all of ______ " when we know that the overlying subject covers vastly more territory.

The universe is a pretty large place - I think I'd be safe to bet a lot of money that there are oceans out there substantially larger than Europa's.

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They haven't been good in years. When they doing in depth dives on new chip architectures and instead decided to be some kind of weird tech policy / culture website I stopped paying attention.

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4. What should we read from the fact that a GMU prof, a GMU prof and a GMU prof have been the linked reviews for this book by a GMU prof? Is it so abstruse that no-one else cares?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_jerk

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There is no great ketchup stagnation:

http://www.techinsider.io/ketchup-leather-is-the-ultimate-burger-sogginess-solution-2015-11

"While it looks more like a Fruit Roll-Up than ketchup, it's actually a genius idea. The Ketchup Leather keeps the condiment from soaking into the burger bun."

Is this a widespread problem? How much ketchup are you people putting on a typical burger, exactly?

None is the only appropriate response

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2. A disgustingly fawning interview of a repulsive man.

Don't be coy, are you a Democrat or a Republican?

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"Just wait til you see our next act!" -America

p.s. I just started the article and the first few questions read like they're from a giddy schoolgirl. OMG is it like super hard being president and stuff?

Who else reads GQ?

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Bill Simmons has always been a fanboy. A sophisticated, smart, funny, talented writer whom I've enjoyed reading a lot over the years, but he's still a fanboy at heart. It's a little puzzling that he'd be an Obama fanboy, though, given that Simmons never struck me as being very political and Romney was Governor when the Red Sox broke the streak in 2004.

Simmons probably responds to the fact that Obama is not far from his age, and is into sports (especially basketball, Simmons' favorite) more than almost any other president has been, except perhaps Nixon (football) and Bush II (baseball).

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You're spot on about Simmons. Yes, the man can write and that accounts for his success. But even the people who like him admit that he's a terrible "homer"

As I said on a previous thread, his claim that Bill Russell is the second best basketball ever, tells you that he really doesn't know dick three about basketball.

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This is pretty much expected of Bill Simmons style (which seems to resonate with a large audience) and he's a sports guy who likes to tie things back to sports and all things bro. So what?

Agreed, he's not Charlie Rose out there.

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I thought he'd at least be the smart and funny version of that. I read the remainder of the questions and couldn't find a reason to care about the answers. "Guilty pleasure TV show" and "what's it like with Twitter?" and so on...and this crap isn't the intro but is the heart of the interview.

Plus the self-congratulatory jab at ESPN. [“It’s really aggravating not having you on Grantland,” he said, almost like I betrayed him. “I go to the site and there’s no Simmons. Come on, man, it’s not the same.”]

What a tool.

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Tyler should like Obama, higher in the autistic scale than any recent President.

Progressive autistic is a weird combo, and it certainly messes with people expecting an emotional progressive.

Shouldn't he display some obsession with detail or extraordinary concentration on certain subjects?

The evidence suggests he abhors details and delegates a great deal.

The only similarity to the autism spectrum I can see is that he has an inability to relate to others. And not just republicans, but democrats as well.

Someone excessively cognitive immediately grasps why "few wolf" (one step above lone wolf) actors cannot be stopped by a chief executive (in an entirely different country). He has trouble relating to the emotional view that he "should."

(Maybe that reality only takes moderate cognitive ability.)

This is really in the key, that when Obama speaks he expects the listener to be processing cognitively and not emotionally. This is what sets him apart from someone like Clinton who connected on the emotional level.

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Gochujang November 18, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Someone excessively cognitive immediately grasps why “few wolf” (one step above lone wolf) actors cannot be stopped by a chief executive (in an entirely different country).

I see. He can stop the planet warming and cause the seas to halt their rise, but he cannot ensure that the French are informed about someone on the American government's Terrorist watch list being in France?

Nor, I note, can he come up with any sort of coherent or consistent policy for dealing with such attacks or the mess in Syria that causes them? You know, for a Light Worker, that is pretty pathetic. Say what you like about W, at least he had actual policies.

Gochujang November 18, 2015 at 10:56 pm

This is really in the key, that when Obama speaks he expects the listener to be processing cognitively and not emotionally. This is what sets him apart from someone like Clinton who connected on the emotional level.

Obama's entire schtick is to claim to be taking the high ground, then claim the Republicans are racists and then behave like a p!ssy teenage girl when people disagree with him. There is no evidence that Obama is capable of processing anything cognitively - seriously, produce one statement or policy from Obama that would indicate any sort of higher cerebral functions at all. At least George W's people managed to come up with the brilliant and insightful Known Unknowns.

Unfortunately there is not a lot of evidence he is able to connect with people either. As you say. He is someone who is so completely narcissistic that he is unable to grasp how he is letting people down and how his failures are actually his failures. He is one of the most thin skinned Presidents ever. But, fortunately for him, nothing ever gets through his self-regard.

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"Someone excessively cognitive immediately grasps why “few wolf” (one step above lone wolf) actors cannot be stopped by a chief executive (in an entirely different country). He has trouble relating to the emotional view that he “should."

So his reactions regarding Trayvon Martin, Louis Gates, Michael Brown and the clock boy are cognitive displays rather than impulsive
views?

Was the decision to remove all troops from Iraq despite private Iraqi pleas to negotiate (see Dexter Filkins) a cognitive understanding of the region and repercussions or political expediency ahead of an election?

Sheryl Atkinsson reported today that Obama refuses to read Intel on terrorist groups he doesn't personally consider terrorists despite them being described as such by the government. Example of cognitive ability or ideological stubbornness.

Is Obamacare an example of the cognition and pragmatism you claim, or an ideological decision delegated to others to carry out?

In fact, can you name any issue in which Obama has displayed a mastery of details or deep engagement that resulted in tangible practical benefits?

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Climate change is a tough one for a cognitive, isn't it? Tyler will tell you it is real, but the tricky part is how non-cognitives relate to it.

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By all means, jump from Syria to Trayvon to show how cognitive you are.

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You claimed he doesn't respond emotionally to lone wolf (ie, individual actions). I showed he does.

You're in over your head in this argument.

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Obama tried in each of those cases to teach history in a cognitive way. That just can't connect to the emotional, those who can't abstract themselves to that level.

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Gochujang November 18, 2015 at 11:58 pm

Climate change is a tough one for a cognitive, isn’t it? Tyler will tell you it is real, but the tricky part is how non-cognitives relate to it.

Tyler's opinion is interesting but irrelevant. Your evasion is not. I will take this as recognition on your part that Obama has not had anything remotely interesting, much less intelligent, to say about the planet allegedly warming.

Gochujang November 19, 2015 at 12:00 am

By all means, jump from Syria to Trayvon to show how cognitive you are.

It is a very good example. Obama tends to shoot his mouth off before he has all the facts. But luckily the media will cover for him. Trayvon was a very good example. So was the professor being arrested for house breaking. What this does not show is that you can justify your claims. Obama's intellectual performance is subpar.

Gochujang November 19, 2015 at 12:24 am

Obama tried in each of those cases to teach history in a cognitive way. That just can’t connect to the emotional, those who can’t abstract themselves to that level.

How is saying Trayvon looks like his son cognitive? It looks pretty emotional to me. What is more perhaps Obama's cognitive functions are a little high - how does justifying an attempted lynching help to teach history in a cognitive way?

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The interview is pretty bad, but this is a GQ piece so it's going to be a puff piece. It's not real journalism. And nobody is going to do a hostile interview to a sitting President.

Certain statements though are uproariously bad given Obama's meltdown in Turkey. Simmons just makes himself seem like an ass with the cliches and obsequious fawning. I'm wondering where is Angela Merkel when Simmons said "the leader of the free world" and Vladimir Putin was when he said "most powerful man on earth". 2015 is Obama's career year? This is the year the chickens came home to roost -History will not be kind. It's obvious this was written way before the Paris attacks.

Turkey was a failure of autism. He, or I, would think that after you explain the logic of the problem six times, people would stop asking.

"Really Mr. President, why can't you stop random guys in France?"

We should alert the media.

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"Turkey was a failure of autism. He, or I, would think that after you explain the logic of the problem six times, people would stop asking."

He said ISIS was contained hours before pros happened. The press asked repeatedly in various ways why he was wrong and what he will do. He avoided the questions.

What's logical about it? His policy is clearly a failure and he has no reasonable explanation why it isn't.

I think it's clear by now that you're confusing logic with a disinterested manner of speaking. Because he sounds like Spock doesn't mean he thinks or acts like Spock.

OK, you are President and I ask you how you will stop all future bank robberies .. do you fail?

(This is very much the same problem as stopping open source terrorists.)

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(Would you ask President Romney to stop bank robberies in Italy? The same irrational expectation.)

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1. It's an omen. Probably has something to do with Russia. Perhaps Ukraine is the can.

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Not a fan of Obama giving interviews to all his favorite liberal pop culture figures who he knows are going to be fawning over him. Even more not a fan of the pop culture figures doing these interviews. They're lowering their reputation as an interviewer.

First he goes on the Daily Show, then the WTF pod, now Bill Simmons. Next it'll be Terry Gross. It would be great to hear him talk to Dennis Miller or someone who isn't going to kiss his butt.

Terry Gross is the most enthusiastic celebrity fart huffer around. That interview would be the pinnacle.

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He has done two interviews with Bill O'Reilly.

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#4.3 Re IQ studies of transnational adoptees

Though not on the adoptees, more analysis on the Per Capita Foreign Fighters statistics in previous thread http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/11/identifying-barriers-to-muslim-integration-in-france.html#comment-158785057

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2. Hey guys, one of Bill Simmons' best friends, who is a regular guest on his podcast, is an ardent Republican whose last guest appearance on the podcast was specifically for the purpose of breaking down the GOP Debate. So relax. The interview is fine.

Rich Berger's apoplexy aside, it's not the political slant but the lack of substance that marks that piece. And as a pullout quote for the sidebar they select Obama's tribute to the greatness of Bill Simmons. Class move!

I don't know what people expected. It's Bill Simmons. I'm a big fan of his, I love listening to his podcast and reading his stuff, but he's not a political person. To expect him to go in there and drill Obama on politics or drones or ISIS or whatever is pretty silly. That's not Simmons. You could quibble with GQ getting someone like that to do the interview, but once they asked him to do it, it was always going to go a certain way. And what is Simmons going to do, say no? Of course not, he jumped at the chance like most of us would.

And we don't really need another 'serious' interview with Obama anyway. Like Simmons said on the most recent episode of his podcast, when Chuck Klosterman asked him why he didn't press Obama on drones: he only had 50 minutes of allotted time, why waste it asking questions that Obama would non-answer, and that he's non-answered a million times? I mean, do you all think Bill Simmons of all people was going to get to the bottom of things? Instead, why not ask him questions, however insignificant they might seem, that interested Simmons personally and that no one else has asked him before, and that might get responses that are at least somewhat candid?

Avoiding politics and thinking up interesting questions wouldn't seem mutually exclusive, but okay. I haven't read much Simmons but had assumed from all the raves that he might at least offer something novel or funny.

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Caplan: At the individual level, IQ is much more highly correlated with job performance than income. So while national IQ has a bigger effect on national income than personal IQ does on personal income, it's less clear that national IQ has a bigger effect on national productivity than personal IQ does on personal productivity.

How could income and productivity two diverge?

This isn't even difficult. Productivity is measured within job. People choose different jobs and work patterns (in large part) due to personality differences. Intelligence is then more useful for explaining your productivity within your job, limited by whether you choose a rather unproductive (or destructive) job (e.g. Libertarian academic) due to personal proclivities.

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# 1 -- the bear may have been calm when you observed him, but do you want to bet that he will stay calm when someone starts sawing the can he is stuck in. I would not want to be the person that bet my health and well being to the bear remaining calm, especially since he would have no idea what was happening.

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From Walter Lippmann to Bill Simmons. There's a gauge of American progress.

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