Showing posts from September, 2019

Friedrich Hayek vs. Reality

In 1945, Friedrich Hayek wrote "The Use of Knowledge in Society." Here he argued that knowledge is unevenly dispersed throughout society, that often people at the bottom of hierarchies, who are dealing hands-on with problems on an everyday basis, have more of a specific kind of information, including specifically acquired skills, than their "superiors" - what he calls "the knowledge of particular circumstances of time and place." It is impossible for any central authority to have all of the information at the "local" level, and for this reason, Hayek thought that central planning was effectively impossible, doomed forever to make fatal mistakes based on incomplete information. But all was not lost. Hayek's answer to this problem was free trade. He saw free trade as a means for information to flow freely throughout society. Fluctuations in price would reflect changes in supply and demand too subtle for the pollsters of central-command economie

The Snap of Thanos

If you managed to avoid watching the "Avengers: Infinity War" movies, first of all, good job.  They're about a big purple Grimace-looking guy named Thanos, who gradually acquires enough magical powers to be able to wipe out exactly one half of all life in the universe, with a snap of his fingers.  Why?  Apparently in the comic books, it's because he's in love with death, which sounds a lot cooler, and appropriate for his name, which sounds a lot like Thanatos, Freud's theory of the death drive.  In the movies, it's because of some cockamamie plot device about him caring about living things wasting our natural resources, or something. This caused more than one pundit to compare Thanos to an environmentalist.  (Where oh where are the superheroes that will save us from these terrifying, extremely powerful environmentalists?) Have you heard about the Fermi Paradox?  It's not really a paradox.  It's just a puzzling fact, which we don't know h

Stupidity Defined

Not long ago, I was lurking on social media and - as always - a "political" argument started - but these arguments are never really political, are they?  Anyway, somebody said, "That's stupid," to which somebody else said that to use the term "stupid" is ableist.  So I guess nothing is stupid.  Cool.  Fine. But... what if we were to define stupidity as any avoidable thing which inhibits one's ability to work with - and, therefore, gain skill and experience and knowedge of - the material world?  And, what if we, in turn, understood the material world to be that which exists beyond one's symbolic constructs, including that specific construct known as language?   In that case, stupidity is not a matter of a person having a low I.Q. - it's not really primarily about a person at all.  It's, if you like, about something happening to that person.  Any avoidable obstacle for dealing with the material world would then be stupid - and al