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Weekend Grab Bag

Is Brexit a Monetary Shock?... Sumnerian luck and monetary re...

Malcolm Gladwell has a new podcast project, Revisionist History. The second episode relates the RAND/Pentagon study of enemy combatants during the Vietnam war. Can you measure morale???

The world of self-driving cars is getting a lot closer than I thought. Lots going on: I'm sure I would scream in the demo, too!

I found this interesting reflection on the great Jorge Luis Borges in Longreads. The author was initially drawn to Borges because she found him "so benevolently and self-effacingly un-capitalist." It's an interesting discussion of Borges's personal financial history, and how this may have influenced Borges's literary output. (It also reminded me of this laudatory post from blogger Alberto on another Latin American literary hero and classical liberal, Mario Vargas Llosa.)

The situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate. The PamAmPost pointedly blames 21st century socialism for what is now a humanitarian crisis. For more, see Emily Skarbek's earlier post on why Hayek wouldn't be surprised by what's happening in Venezuela today.

And in the so-sad-it's-almost-funny category, did Brits really know what they were voting for in this week's referendum?

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What else are you reading this weekend?

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CATEGORIES: Economic Education

COMMENTS (7 to date)
jon writes:

And in the so-sad-it's-almost-funny category, did Brits really know what they were voting for in this week's referendum?
Without knowing whether the bulk of the people doing those searches were remainers or leavers, we can't really draw any conclusions about what those googling trends mean. Also, wouldn't we want to know how the size of this spike in searches compares to those surrounding other big votes in the UK?

John Thacker writes:

The Google Trends graph doesn't have a vertical axis. There are certainly more people Googling that than before the election, but it certainly doesn't demonstrate that it's a lot of people. Certainly not when compared to actually popular search terms.

These stories using Google Trends are on average are making people less informed, but they confirm biases so they persist. People should ignore them, and journalists should apologize for them.

On Friday evening I enjoyed a 75-minute YouTube, The Great Global Warming Swindle. Although it is almost 10 years old now, it has arguments I had not seen: one being a strong correlation between sunspot activity and temperatures on Earth.

Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others, by Robert Trivers (2011) promises to be a stimulating book for me in my project to describe aspects of social cooperation. Cooperative communication among agents in a computer model can mimic "thinking" in a mind — in a mind on a much larger scale, that is, in which the agents may be analogous to neurons in our brains.

Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations: A Reader's Guide, by Arif Ahmed (2010) gives a helpful description of the context of Wittgenstein's later book (PI). This also relates to the agent-based model of a mind, about which I posted on June 15.

Scott Sumner writes:

Thanks for posting this. I loved the essay on Borges.

Amy Willis writes:

@Richard, thanks for the links...Have you read Trivers' 2012 book, The Folly of Fools? (I will order at least one of the two...they sounds fascinating.)

@Scott, Thanks!

No, I have not read any of Trivers' work other than the first pages of Deceit and Self-Deception. Some reference attracted me to Trivers' work on deceit and I took the book I found on the library shelf. The Folly of Fools may be as good or better.

What I have not seen yet in the first 36 pages of Deceit and Self-Deception is acknowledgement by Trivers that deceit may seem good. It must depend, it seems to me, upon the interests of the observer. Bait on a fishhook is deceit which may feed a human. In Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky advises his followers to say whatever will make them look best in the circumstance.

This subjectivity of truth is an unpleasant pill for me to swallow. But, trusting in what I have been taught, that education is a good thing, I will encourage this pill upon readers of the chapter on philosophy in my book.

Let me mention a great book with which I am now 146/179 complete: Orality & Literacy. Walter J. Ong describes how human thinking was changed when writing was developed. One of the shockers is that pre-literate societies do not have a word for "word" (assuming I got this right, I am admittedly a first-time reader). The experience of "word" which calls for naming as "word" occurs, evidently, only when people start learning how to make written record of what was previously only an aural experience.

Amy Willis writes:

@Richard, The Ong reference (which also sounds really interesting!) also reminds me of Adam Smith's essay, Considerations Concerning the First Formation of Languages. (Not available online that I'm aware of, but in this soft-cover LF volume:

Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" may also be of interest. More here:

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