David Perell interviews me podcast

Not just the usual, we focus on theories of learning and theories of travel.  Self-recommending!

By the way, here is David’s home page.  Here is David on Twitter.  Here is a podcast excerpt on how to learn things by looking for angular entry points.  Here is the podcast on iTunes.


I wish he had asked the one question, that I've long wanted to flip on Tyler. "What is the Tyler Cowen production function?"

Interesting, what do you mean?

David, thanks for the reply! Great conversation. Thank you for sharing.

The production function (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Production_function) is a concept in economics that describes, mathematically, how inputs become outputs in a company or country. It is related to an idea of comparative advantage. What is the uniquely successful way that Tyler approaches turning inputs into outputs? To what extent can it be copied or not?

I see that you're in NYC. I am too. I'll shoot you an email if you'd like to meet up.

Awesome, I'll look into it.

Thanks for sending and please shoot me an email.

Your description of how you manage your day and studies reminded me of this theme Amity Shales used to explain Calvin Coolidge's nature via the influence of one of his professors.

"[Amherst professor Charles Edward] Garman spoke of life as a great river journey. The professor told his students that, as Coolidge paraphrased it, “if they would go along with events and have the courage and industry to hold to the main stream without being washed ashore they would some day be men of power.” Garman’s image of the river, of water, and of his own task as pilot navigating amid the waves defined Coolidge’s life."

Shlaes, Amity. Coolidge (p. 18). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Cowen: "I used to think the ideal tax rate on corporations should be zero, but that is no longer my view." Not many would admit error in such an unambiguous and public way. What does this have to do with the Perell podcast? Learning. Cowen explained in an interview that the secret to his speed reading skills is that he has read so many books on so many subjects that he can simply scan a book to discern if there's anything for him to learn that he doesn't already know. At first I was skeptical since most people zero in on what they believe they already know in order to confirm what they believe they know while ignoring that which conflicts with what they believe they already know. I'm no longer skeptical. Learning is supposed to be as Cowen describes: it's the quest for new knowledge, even if, or because, it conflicts with what one already believes one knows. The challenge to those concerned with learning is that Cowen is an exceptional case, as most people learn nothing new once they leave high school. We invest enormous resources in learning, yet very few are capable of it.

Sounds interesting- thanks for the tip.

I read David's thing on the future of American sports and found it glib.

The baseball/factory analogy is weak.

Fantasy ('rostisserie') baseball preceded fantasy football by a stretch.

Football demands a wider range of skills than basketball.

What about NASCAR?

Finally, how does this map onto, say, Canada, where hockey has been the one and only for a century? Stagnation in the Great White North?

Still, I like the 'angular entry point' concept, tho it probably produces some misses (like the American sports article.)


That's interesting. Curious to here more about the fantasy sports thing.

Was before my time so I might have missed something.

The article wasn't meant to be a comprehensive review of American sports. Rather, playing around with Marshall McLuhan inspired theories and ideas. Feedback is both welcome and encouraged.

The article was inspired by this passage in Understanding Media:

"It is the inclusive mesh of the TV image, in particular, that spells for a while, at least, the doom of baseball. For baseball is a game of one-thing-at-a-time, fixed positions and visibly delegated specialist jobs such as belonged to the now passing mechanical age, with its fragmented tasks and its staff and line in management organization. TV, as the very image of the new corporate and participant ways of electric living, fosters habits of unified awareness and social interdependence that alienate us from the peculiar style of baseball, with its specialist and positional stress. When cultures change, so do games. Baseball, that had become the elegant abstract image of an industrial society living by split-second timing, has in the new TV decade lost its psychic and social relevance for our new way of life. The ball game has been dislodged from the social center and been conveyed to the periphery of American life."

I'm a baseball fan, but I never appreciated why until now. My nephew and my Godson tell their friends not to disturb me when I am doing something because I cannot "multi-task". It's true, although I hadn't thought of it that way before their observation. Watching football and basketball requires multi-tasking skills I don't possess, while watching baseball does not. Younger people have learned to multi-task; indeed, they thrive on multi-tasking while being bored if required to single-task. I guess I'm a single-tasker trapped in a multi-tasking world. Play ball!

Ah, that's good to hear.

I'm a baseball fan, a basketball player, and a passionate golfer. Also a multi-tasker. Opposites! But yes, the games we play mirror our inner psychological lives.

What's your team? Go Giants!

There was a time when the adventurous left England for America, and England settled down as a protected coal economy.

I am glad, as adventurous Americans go off to explore China, we have no leaders pushing that sort of stubborn, backward looking, idea of arrested decline.

Very much enjoyed this. One question I have for TC is whether China will ever hve the cultural influence around the world that the US had (still has?) in the 20th century. Thinking of Hollywood and rock and roll here mainly, but also literature to a certain extent.

Not aware of Chinese film, music, tv, whatever, having much of a following outside of the Chinese speaking work. Even within Asia it lags far behind Korea, and I wonder why this is.

I enjoyed this conversation a lot. I transcribed the bit about the Alexander-not-Alexander statue because it's a great nugget: https://flightfromperfection.com/skopje-statue.html

This post of Tyler's was literally self-recommended.

Sounds like an interesting interview but I don't have the time to listen. I prefer transcripts (or even better just plain written essays) because I can scan them and decide if I want to read more.

I chopped up some short, pithy videos from the conversation: https://twitter.com/david_perell/status/922480115963056128

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