The Wall Street Journal gave us a timely reminder last week of Friedrich A. Hayek’s legendary Nobel acceptance speech.
An ungated version of the entire speech can be found here.
Here’s a portion of what the WSJ quoted:
To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm. In the physical sciences there may be little objection to trying to do the impossible; one might even feel that one ought not to discourage the overconfident because their experiments may after all produce some new insights.
But in the social field, the erroneous belief that the exercise of some power would have beneficial consequences is likely to lead to a new power to coerce other men being conferred on some authority.
Even if such power is not in itself bad, its exercise is likely to impede the functioning of those spontaneous-ordering forces by which, without understanding them, man is in fact so largely assisted in the pursuit of his aims.
The whole thing is worth a read.
This week had a good example of why I don’t like or trust awards given out by small groups of people. The smaller the group, the more prone that group is to be biased and wrong, making the reward meaningless. It turns out that the Nobel committee is just a set of humans, it’s not made up of supernaturals conferred with some higher degree of judgement than the rest of us.
Personally, I have no opinion on who should have won the Nobel Peace Prize, but the media seemed disappointed that Malala didn’t win.
The media should keep that in mind when they appeal to the authority of other Nobel Prize winners.
I think Nelly captured the sentiment in his song, Number One:
You aint gotta gimme my props
Just gimme the yachts
Gimme my rocks
Keep my fans coming in flocks
In other words, he agrees — awards are cheap, crowds speak.
As I mentioned at the end of this post, last week’s EconTalk with Nassim Taleb, Skin in the Game, is worth listening to. He describes some history of how having skin in the game is a simple and effective risk management rule and how removing it causes problems.
In ancient Babylonia, architects who built houses that fell down and killed people could themselves be killed. As Taleb explained, ‘that simple rule outperformed any inspector.” And, yet, there were still architects there. Apparently good and/or confident ones.
Here is more of what Taleb had to say about the Golden Rule:
And of course we have the Golden Rule that we see in the Old Testament, which is a positive–up till then it was a negative rule: ‘Don’t do unto others what you don’t want them to do to you.’ And then the Golden Rule: ‘Do to others what you want them to do to you’ and so on. Up to then we had a civil rule. What you see behind this is the foundation of moral philosophy, as a foundation of ethics and a foundation of civil society. But in it we saw something much more potent–we saw the foundation of risk management.
I thought this was interesting, too, regarding parenting and letting kids grow up:
The expression in Lebanon, that the first 7 years you play with them (and protect them), the second 7 years you let them get in trouble and the third 7 years you advise them on how they got in trouble.
Immerse yourself in a game as you run with the Zombies, Run! app. On your run, you’ll get to pick up munitions for your base and outrun heavy breathing zombie herds.
What a fantastically creative way to shake up those boring trods and add some sprints and interval workouts.
Sometimes innovations seem so obvious. I’m amazed it took so long for something like this to emerge. Can’t wait to see what follows.
Here’s an interesting write-up of a high school turnaround.
Decades ago, the school was slivered off from a suburban school district by the neighboring urban school district so it could meet its racial diversity targets. That district, along with this school, when down hill and only a third of students were graduating.
Fast forward to 2007 and the residents of this area voted to move back to the suburban school district.
Now, just five years later, 90 percent graduate from that high school.
The surprising bit for me: The new school district only hired 12 people from the previous district to fill the 400 positions to staff the schools that transitioned.
That surprised me because my mental model had been that the teachers are less important in the school failure equation than student and parent expectations. Perhaps I need to rethink that.
I wonder if anyone still receives pensions from Rome?
I recently discovered this Folgers coffee filter packs at my grocery store. Nice job Folgers. That is exactly what I was talking about in this post back in 2011.
At $3.98 for 60 cups, that’s about 7 cents per cup, which compares very favorably to the single use filter packs and seems to be worth the additional cost over regular coffee because it can be easy to transport for travel and takes the guess-work out measuring, while keeping the brewing machine clean.
Good luck. I hope it works out for you.
I did happen to think about taking a photo this time. I had two cameras on me (in my iPhone).
I was startled recently on a jog by a RoboMow.
For a moment I had insight into any number of movie characters who have traveled forward in time to be frightened and amazed at new technology that we find commonplace. I imagine, someday, robot lawn mowers will be commonplace.
As I was jogging by a yard, I saw in my periphery what my mind interpreted as the top of a dog kennel moving at a relatively decent clip right at me. I thought there must be a dog underneath it running at me.
I regret that I did not snap a photo. I had two cameras on me at that time (the forward and reverse cameras on my iPhone).
1. It rarely occurs to me to pause a live show if I have to step out of the room for a moment. My kid does it regularly.
2. At just about any given time, I’m carrying 3 or 4 cameras. It rarely occurs to me use them.
Though, I am getting better. For example, when we ‘whiteboard’ in a meeting, rather than copying what we wrote on the whiteboard into my notes by hand, I regularly take photos of the whiteboard.
Another example. Recently I was on vacation, jogging on the beach and I received a text from a friend, “Where r u?“. I snapped a photo of the beach and waves rolling in and sent it to him. His response, “Nice. I guess you won’t be available for lunch today then.“
Interesting video on how glass is recycled (via Marginal Revolution).
At the end, of the video the guys says, “the interesting things is if you buy a Snapple bottle in New York and turn it back in through one of the recycling bins, we’ll turn it into another Snapple bottle.”
I did find that interesting that it must be cheaper and easier to break down the bottle and remake it than it is to wash it and reuse it.