Richard Thaler, Amish, Fables, Facebook, Retirement

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The Applied Theory Of Bossing People Around

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey | Reason | 12th February 2018

Philippic against Richard Thaler, Nobel laureate, claiming that Thaler’s school of behavioural economics reduces adults to the condition of children. A straw-man argument; but still entertaining as a rant. “Thaler works on behavioral finance, the study of mistakes people make when they talk to their stockbroker. He can be counted as the second winner for behavioral economics, after Daniel Kahneman. His prize was for the study of mistakes people make when they buy milk” (1,180 words)

How Long Until We’re All Amish?

Lyman Stone | In A State Of Migration | 8th February 2018

The Amish are “a fascinating group for a demographer”. Academic studies show that the Amish-born population doubles every 15 to 30 years, though some leave the church. “Census-based data is lower, but still confirms very high fertility, and a decline in the postwar-born generation. Interestingly, simply speaking Pennsylvania Dutch is not a powerful indicator of super-high fertility. It’s Pennsylvania Dutch and lack of a phone that seems to be the really strong indicator of Amish-type fertility” (2,100 words)

Cautionary Fables For Darwin’s Birthday

Mike Bendzela | Three Quarks Daily | 12th February 2018

Aesop updated for evolution. Short tales drawing morals from, inter alia, the rivalry between egg-laying monotremes and marsupials in the great class of mammalian vertebrates; the revenge of lizards upon cobras; a curious sciurid hoping to be admitted to the order Chiroptera; and a great albatross preening before a penguin. Over-arching moral: Every evolutionary advantage comes with a cost. For example: “Steady misrepresentation is the chief hazard of tribal membership” (800 words)

Two Years That Shook Facebook

Fred Vogelstein & Nicholas Thompson | Wired | 12th February 2018

Deep dive into Facebook’s moral crisis, portraying Mark Zuckerberg as a naif who somehow thought that his company could remain above or outside politics — until the 2016 presidential election laid bare the many ways in which bad actors could use Facebook for evil. By this account, the shock was salutary. Storms of recrimination raged inside and outside Facebook. Zuckerberg was forced to accept, very belatedly, that with great power comes great responsibility (11,200 words)

Why Rock Stars Are Suddenly Retiring

Rob Sheffield | Rolling Stone | 12th February 2018

Elton John, Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Rush, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others say they are done with touring, and this time they seem to mean it. “Two deaths really seem to loom over this moment. Prince and Tom Petty were younger than most of the new retirees, but both died from the same painkiller – Fentanyl – after years of touring harder than their aging bones could handle. Their deaths are a wake-up call. None of us want to see our heroes go out that way” (1,400 words)

Video of the day The Shins

What to expect:

James Mercer, singer and guitarist for The Shins, performs in NPR’s Tiny Desk series (10’15”)

Thought for the day

The body can do many things which the mind wonders at
Baruch Spinoza

Podcast of the day You’ve Got Brainmail | Fast Forward

Rose Eveleth talks to Roger Luckhurst and other guests about how telepathy might work

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