Bryan Caplan  

New Phelps Phan

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Systematically Biased Beliefs ... California Dreaming...

The prize for Phelps left me cold - until I learned that he said this:

One can hardly imagine, I think, how poor we would be today were it not for the rapid population growth of the past to which we owe the enormous number of technological advances enjoyed today. . . . If I could re-do the history of the world, halving population size each year from the beginning of time on some random basis, I would not do it for fear of losing Mozart in the process.

It still would have been better to give it to Tullock, though - or, better yet, bend the rules to give it posthumously to Julian Simon.


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The author at Economic Investigations in a related article titled News of the World #8 writes:
    Elsewhere… Extrapolation Strikes Again, prof. Palmer reminds us of the hazards of forecasting, even if it’s for the past. China’s Pile Of Dollars, prof. Altig does a brief overview of other posts in connection with the massive store o... [Tracked on October 18, 2006 4:02 AM]
COMMENTS (3 to date)
Dennis Mangan writes:

There was only one Mozart, but quite a few mass murderers, dictators, etc. So halving populations would make it much more likely to "lose" the bad folks. The idea expressed by Phelps and Simon assumes that having millions of murderers is worth it if we get Mozart in the process, which is highly debatable.

Cyrus writes:

This criticism assumes that atrocity, more than creativity, requires some special genius. I believe on the other hand, that tryants fill an available niche, and if not that tyrant, then another.

Bill writes:

Since we're playing wishing games, how about wishing that the half of the population that gets to exist consists of the most intelligent half? I assume that half would include Mozart, but not Hitler. (Anyone so race obsessed must be quite stupid.)

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