Arnold Kling  

Unchecked and Unbalanced Watch

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Inner Economist Watch... Monetary Theory, Once Again...

One of the themes in the second of my forthcoming books is that power is becoming concentrated while knowledge is becoming specialized. David Carr muses about how hard it is to know everything nowadays.

In terms of what I call the "suits vs. geeks" divide, a suit needs to be a polymath and a geek tends to be a monomath. The shortcomings of each cause a problem.


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Rod writes:

"Some mathematicians are birds, others are frogs. Birds fly high in the air and survey broad vistas of mathematics out to the far horizon. They delight in concepts that unify our thinking and bring together diverse problems from different parts of the landscape. Frogs live in the mud below and see only the flowers that grow nearby. They delight in the details of particular objects, and they solve problems one at a time. I happen to be a frog, but many of my best friends are birds. The main theme of my talk tonight is this. Mathematics needs both birds and frogs. Mathematics is rich and beautiful because birds give it broad visions and frogs give it intricate details. Mathematics is both great art and important science, because it combines generality of concepts with depth of structures. It is stupid to claim that birds are better than frogs because they see farther, or that frogs are better than birds because they see deeper. The world of mathematics is both broad and deep, and we need birds and frogs working together to explore it."

Freeman Dyson delivers the Einstein lecture to the AMS: http://www.ams.org/notices/200902/rtx090200212p.pdf

chipotle writes:

Tyler Cowen linked to an article about the fate of the polymath.

Shorter version: The information revolution means it's impossible to be a polymath anymore. Get over it.

John Thacker writes:

"David Carr muses about how hard it is to know everything nowadays."

? Isn't the name given as Edward Carr? Were you thinking of the quarterback or perhaps the New York Times journalist?

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