[LINK] We live in interesting times.... Or - is the gold standard really extinct.

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Tue Oct 21 18:55:57 EST 2008

Birch Jim wrote:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Link On Behalf Of Craig Sanders
> Sent: Monday, 20 October 2008 6:32 PM
>> humans obviously can't be trusted to run governments or economies or to
> look after the planet....
>> ... sounds insane, right? yeah, it does. until you consider that the
> alternative is more of the same, which is even more insane.
> The thing that worries me is the way everyone believes that they are
> competent to make decisions on stuff that they know nothing - sorry,
> very, very little - about.
> Everyone has an opinion on whether global warming is occurring but who
> is actually qualified to have an opinion?  It's an incredibly complex
> system.  The IPCC assembled a couple of hundred trained and respected
> scientists
> to look at it and cross reviewed each other's work.  But we would
> apparently be much better off taking our views from cranky newspaper
> columnists who wouldn't know the first law of thermodynamics if it
> burned a hole in their  bottoms.  
What I still stub my toe on is the sceptics' idea that we're somehow
talking about something new-and-mysterious. My wife recalls an HSC
geography question from the 1970s, asking students to choose whether
they believed warming or cooling was a more plausible climatic response
to pollution... For mine, I only need to remark that if Jerry Pournelle
had enough facts at his fingertips to outline the basics of warming in
about 1973, then the IPCC report has to have more weight than the SMH or
News Limited columnist...
> Maybe they consider themselves better
> at diagnosing heart problems than their heart specialist too, or maybe
> they could they could redesign their car engines to reduce fuel
> consumption if they weren't busy this weekend. 
> I read this recently:
> In a democracy, of course, economic policy is set not by economists but
> by the general public. One of my favourite books of recent years is
> Bryan Caplan's treatise The Myth of the Rational Voter, subtitled Why
> Democracies Choose Bad Policies. The answer Caplan offers is that voters
> are worse than ignorant about basic economic principles of good policy.
> Ignorance, at least, would have the virtue of being random and so
> perhaps would average out to zero in a large population. Instead of
> being merely ignorant, voters hold onto systematically mistaken beliefs.
> And politicians, whose main job is to get elected, mold those mistaken
> beliefs into bad public policy. To quote Caplan, "What happens if fully
> rational politicians compete for the support of irrational
> voters--specifically, voters with irrational beliefs about the effects
> of various policies? It is a recipe for mendacity."
I really like that. Systematically mistaken beliefs as a policy driver?
You'd need AI just to build a catalogue... but what happens to people
who try and make it their business to demyth the world? - Generally,
they get attacked by both sides, whose attitude to their pet myths may
be encapsulated in the expression "cold dead fingers".

> (www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/mankiw/files/Smart%20Taxes.pdf)
> Bring on AI: You a mug if you don't use it.
> Jim
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