Experts, Brexit, Metaphors, War, Grit


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Do The Experts Know Anything?

Justin Fox | Bloomberg View | 24th June 2016

The experts were wrong about Brexit, wrong about Trump, blindsided by the 2008 crash. What’s wrong with them? One problem is that experts tend to come from the elites, or get co-opted into the elites, so they don’t know much about how poorer people are living and thinking; and when poorer people make the running on an issue, as with Brexit and Trump, the experts miss important parts of the picture. Also, experts have skewed incentives: they rarely suffer when they get things wrong (770 words)

Reflections Of A Fence-Sitter

David Goodhart | Prospect | 23rd June 2016

Written before Britain’s EU vote; rendered all the more prescient by the outcome. Britain has alway been on the edge of the EU, and getting edgier: “Does it matter a whole heap if we move more formally from the inner outer ring to the outer outer ring as some kind of associate member of the EU?” Poorer Brits want to leave the EU because they rely most on public-sector jobs and welfare benefits, giving them “a greater attachment to the symbols and benefits of national citizenship” (1,550 words)

DNA As Metaphor

Colin McGinn & H. Allen Orr | New York Review of Books | 20th June 2016

In the early days of genetics, biologists borrowed their terminology from information theory. DNA was said to contain a “genetic code” which passed “information” to the organism. These metaphors are now so ingrained in biology, and psychology, and neuroscience, that we forget they are even metaphors. “What is the literally true way of speaking for which they substitute? How can we reformulate these sciences in such a way that metaphors are replaced by statements of fact?” (630 words)

This Is Your Brain On War

Adam Linehan | Task And Purpose | 18th June 2016

West Point psychology professor Lt. Col. Dave Grossman explains how mind and body behave reflexively in combat. “The moment an engagement kicks off, the body initiates a dramatic response, beginning with the circulatory system, which immediately shunts blood away from the body surface.” This redirection of blood reduces bleeding from wounds during battle; it also shuts down the forebrain. “There is no rational thought. The midbrain is in charge, and you’ll do what you’ve been trained to do” (3,080 words)

The Talent Trap

Ian Leslie | New Statesman | 18th June 2016

Angela Lee Duckworth argues in her “blockbuster” self-help book, Grit, that will-power and character are the great drivers of success, more so than innate talent. Her message is inspiring, and comforting — and wrong. “While innate ability is far from the only contributor to success, it is probably the best predictor of it. This is particularly true of cognitive ability. On average, people with higher intelligence earn more money, are healthier, live longer, and are less likely to die in traffic accidents” (2,500 words)

Video of the day: The Peacocks Of Pitti Uomo

What to expect:

David Attenborough parody. Among the “peacocks” of men’s fashion at the Pitti Uomo fashion week in Florence

Thought for the day

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him
Galileo Galilei

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