Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, November 18, 2022

Blog Roundup

1. At Roots of Progress, Jason Crawford considers the question "When should we be surprised that an invention took 'so long'?" The short, high-level version of his interesting answer can be had by way of imperfect analogies:

Image by Jacek Dylag, via Unsplash, license.
You can think about this by analogy to stochastic processes in thermodynamics: the exact path of any given molecule is random, but in aggregate there are predictable patterns, and they are determined in part by macro-level factors such as temperature and pressure. You could think of total amount of R&D effort as like the temperature of a system, and the market size as a kind of pressure in a particular direction. Or in an electronic analogy, speed of communication is like conductivity in a material, a large market is like a high voltage differential, and social strictures are a kind of resistance. (These are rough analogies, not mathematical isomorphisms.)
Fans of an earlier, viral essay of his will understand why he's "no longer surprised by the bicycle, either."

2. At Value for Value, Harry Binswanger offers some updates regarding his proposed book on free will, including the following:
... I found a way to make the writing more pleasant. In fact downright enjoyable. I'm casting it, mainly or wholly, as a dialogue. (Which means I'm leaning to the polemical book.)

I have two characters, a man and a woman. They are identified only as "He" and "She." The woman is the one with all the right answers. The man is well intentioned but has absorbed all the bromides of the culture. But he is refreshingly honest.
Of the titles under consideration, I liked the third item of the bulleted list of possible titles for the polemical version of the book.

3. At the blog of the Texas Institute for Property Rights, Brian Phillips gives what I regard as a good "reasonable person litmus test" regarding freedom in today's increasingly collectivist political climate:
We will not always like or agree with the choices that others make. The test of our commitment to freedom of choice is found during such occasions. If we truly support freedom of choice, then we must defend the freedom of every individual. To do otherwise is to claim that our gang should be free to choose, but others should not enjoy the same freedom.
I think it can be a useful and productive tactic -- or a time-saving one, depending on the answer -- to guide political discussions in the direction of finding out whether someone is on that page.

I have often said here that freedom is of a piece -- that there is no such thing as economic freedom without freedom of speech and vice versa.

Freedom also applies to everyone or to no one, whether would-be "little dictators" imagine that to be the case or not...

4. At How to Be Profitable and Moral, Jaana Woiceshyn discusses dangerous groupthink about climate change. Along the way, she gives a great short description of how most people who buy climate catastrophism are operating, epistemologically:
... This is groupthink: individuals giving up first-handed adherence to reality and independent thinking, accepting the majority's view as the truth, and trusting it to be based on facts.
No matter how much or how little credence one gives to the idea that environmentalism is a religion, climate catastrophism particularly looks like one in the above respect.

In addition, Woiceshyn gives the encouraging news that important drivers of cultural influence are beginning to question the dominant narrative and, more important, helping those persuaded to think for themselves about this issue do so. Within the post are links to books and articles worth keeping in mind for yourself or for anyone you know who might want to become better informed.

Among them are pieces I hadn't heard of in such places as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and New York Times Magazine.

It is good news indeed that these arguments are showing up in establishment media and I look forward to reading them.

-- CAV

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