Thursday, May 2, 2013

Assault of Thoughts - 5/2/02013

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

- Dave Churvis has great thoughts on our space exploration discussion yesterday. He distinguishes between present value, future value, and what he calls "future value to future humans" (FVFH) in discussing the issue of temporal autarky that I've previously discussed here. I like FVFH because it acknowledges the point that we are talking about something different from PV when we talk about these issues. That's a big problem if your evaluation methods are grounded in thinking about PV. But even if we get to the point of saying that we need to sometimes think about FVFH in evaluating policy there's still the problem of compensation (this is what always frustrates Bob Murphy). Even if we recognize that a far future (aka - outside the horizon of significance for any reasonable PV calculations) with 1,000 billion flourishing humans is better than a far future with 100 billion miserable humans, we can never be compensated by those future humans for investments that we make in pursuit of the former. The solution has to be fundamentally altruistic (unless someone has come up with a different understanding - that's all I can come up with). We simply have to care that the human species makes something of itself which is going to require reorienting people from their relatively provincial mindsets into something broader and more cosmopolitan.

- Great thoughts on interpreting statistical evidence. I think the robustness point is especially important - and one that has been emphasized more in grad school for me than in undergrad (perhaps understandably).

- Changes in routine occupations in the recession - from the Urban Institute.

- Dorion Sagan advocates a democratic science and an approachable philosophy. I agree. The problem, of course, is the benefits of the division of labor. I don't think Sagan would disagree that there are benefits to the division of labor - this is just an account of the attendant costs.

- xkcd reminds us that the labor market and social lives of scientists are important.

- The Washington Post is collecting furlough experience stories. Think of submitting something if you're going through this right now. The DOD has been pretty good at maneuvering through this, minimizing the furlough, and putting it off as long as possible (thanks in part to provisions in the continuing resolution). Ideally Kate's furlough could even coincide with when she'd be taking off time for the baby anyway, but we'll see.

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