Sunday, January 15, 2012

Assault of Thoughts - 1/15/2012

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- Unlearningecon has more critiques of neoclassical economics here.

- LK has an interesting discussion of Hayek's racial prejudices here. I think these things are important to know about and share, but not dwell on (so long as they're quite historical, as in this case... if they come up more recently obviously we need to talk more about it). The denials that come up over Keynes and his anti-semitism, or Mises and his embrace of Italian fascism are not appropriate. We need to know and accept this stuff. I had a recent post on Keynes's anti-semitism here. [Greg Ransom - if you troll this post inappropriately I'm warning you now your comments will be deleted].

- Evan shared an article with me on early "market liberal" and "neoliberal" acceptance of Keynesianism and the welfare state. He specifically shared this reply to this original article on the topic in The Historical Journal. The original article seems to argue that what are called "neoliberals" initially argued against socialism and were actually quite receptive to Keynesianism and to the welfare state, which they (correctly in my opinion) understood to be completely different. Keynesianism and clearly the welfare state explicitly rejected that the emergent order of the economy could be planned centrally. The reply suggests that Hayek's negative disposition towards Keynesian policy and the welfare state developed in the mid- to late-forties. This seems to be a different dialogue than the one I'm used to. It's a history journal, after all. We here of course know about the sharp disagreements with Keynes in the early thirties, but I imagine the authors have something somewhat different in mind. I haven't read it yet, but since it piqued Evan's interest (and since commenters frequently ask for more discussion of "neoliberalism"), I thought I'd share it.

- Neil deGrasse Tyson is worried about Chinese space ambitions. I'm not sure whether they offer the stiffest competition, or the Europeans and Russians do. The Chinese have expressed interest in the moon too. My hope is the Chinese send a manned moon mission that gets us seriously thinking about our investments in space exploration, motivating us to be the first to Mars. Tyson has a new book coming out in February which I've already ordered. It's a collection of a lot of previous material, plus some new discussion. But it focuses a lot on what motivated us in previous waves of exploration and what Tyson thinks of our future in space.


  1. I had no idea scientists would be prone to any nationalist chauvinism.

    If a Peruvian mountain hermit were to discover a new galaxy during his stargazing, it's mankind's gain. Not merely Peru's gain. Knowledge is not a resource that one can corner.

  2. Yes - and I think Tyson knows this. He's said similar things in the past. What he has noted, though, is financial gains from developing technology.

    I also think there's a historical importance to this too. I think it's highly likely that we will settle Mars. We will be an interplanetary species. I think there's good reason to want that civilization to evolve out of an American or a European settlement rather than a Chinese or a Russian settlement.

    Science is universal. But there are still important historical trends to consider here.

  3. Daniel I'm most curious as to what you thought of my 'does it matter if early models are flawed?' post. I thought it clarified my position more effectively than the earlier post.

  4. Prateek Sanjay,

    People who think Chinese space exploration can be a bad thing are the same people who think Chinese gains in productivity can be a bad thing for the United States. In other words, people who think are in a competition for some immediately finite thing.

    Star Wars, Episode VII: Space Mercantilism.

  5. "I had no idea scientists would be prone to any nationalist chauvinism."

    In my experience, individuals who dedicated themselves to intellectually demanding careers (be it doctors or scientists) become very conceited. They will not hesitate to overstep the boundaries of their own disciplines to preach their own hollow opinions on subject matter they have no business discussing. Thus, you're left with intellectuals who have the economic or political insight of an A.M. radio talk show host.

  6. Anonymous, I think Prateek was being sarcastic.

  7. Why would I be sarcastic?

    I don't think chauvinism is a good thing.

    What's so great about your part of the world, just because you were born there?

    1. Prateek,

      I'm not supporting nationalism, though I'm not greatly against it.

      But, the idea that scientists are not nationalists is very funny. Have you met any scientists, they're slightly more nationalistic than soccer fans.

  8. My hope is the Chinese send a manned moon mission that gets us seriously thinking about our investments in space exploration, motivating us to be the first to Mars.

    Elon Musk just hit the jackpot -- AGAIN

  9. People should take a look at other things that Tyson has said about this - it's not clear at all to me he's a "nationalist" just because he noted this.


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