Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The "ist" in "economist" resembles "Trotskyist", not "biologist"

From the Department of "Yeah, but really"...

Realistically, the students who are struggling to pass third year economics courses are never going to be policy analysts or economic journalists. So what am I teaching them that would help them in the job market?

All sorts of useful things!  Things like "unions are bad and self-serving"! Like "government regulation is bad"! Like "The USA's business friendly climate makes it the strongest nation in the world"! Or "Minimum wages are bad for everyone"!  And so on.

What do the Chinese equivalents of this guy's students learn in their corresponding political indoctrination which helps them in the job market?  How to be a politically sound cadre who can be relied on to support the existing system.  Come on, dude, you are simultaneously wildly overvaluing yourself as a provider of useful knowledge, and undervaluing yourself as a vital part of the educational system.
4 comments this item posted by the management 12/20/2012 02:37:00 AM

Monday, December 10, 2012

The fragility of antifragility

Just reading through "Antifragile" now, and with rue my heart is laden at the mathematical and technical annexes.  It's a very similar sensation to the one I get when reading something in Welsh - I recognise this, it's a language I used to speak, but although I can pick up the general sense and even understand bits and pieces, the nuance and the ease is all gone.  And realistically, given constraints of time and brainpower, it ain't coming back.  All I can do is chew over the concept ...

And I'm having a few problems with it really.  I think it might not be workable - the original dispute between me and NNT was about dynamic modelling, and I think that antifragility as a strategy might have some nasty dynamic properties.  Consider ...

1) Presume that there is someone at your place of work who has become, somehow, antifragile.  They benefit from shocks and uncertainty.  How is that person going to act?

2) Well, they benefit from shocks and uncertainty.  So all of their incentives are to create more shocks, and to create uncertainty.

3) Doesn't that sound like kind of a pain in the ass?

4) Yes it does.  Specifically, I would guess that an antifragile person would be set up specifically to benefit from conflict and combat, and lots of other passages in "The Bed of Procrustes" and in "Antifragility" itself suggest to me that this is a correct interpretation of the concept.

5) So, I would guess, after a short while in the company of the antifragilist, I suspect I would be thinking of ways to do him a bad turn, and specifically to try and come up with a sufficiently large unanticipated shock to test whether he was really all that antifragile after all.  I think I would have quite a few allies in doing so.

6) And of course, antifragility can only ever be a local rather than global property; for any entity X, there is some shock that would destroy it totally, so anything that's antifragile is only ever antifragile over some bounded range of shocks.

7) Taleb, Nietzsche and similar thinkers tend to decry this tendency of the ordinary, conventional and mundane to drag down the truly extraordinary man, but actually it's very sensible and something like it is the basis of all civilised society, IMO.

I am only 9% through the book according to my Kindle, so maybe this is dealt with later or in the technical annex.  But I am not yet convinced that antifragility is an intrinsically valuable property of all and every system.  I think it's a strategy like any other - sometimes useful, sometimes useless, sometimes actively self destructive.
8 comments this item posted by the management 12/10/2012 01:16:00 PM

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