Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Soc Flop

CIP has a series of posts based on Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle (p. 364). Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.. Kindle Edition; the latest being Soc Flop. As you can tell, he isn't impressed. To prove my credentials, in 2015 I said the Republic, I think it was. Anyway, that’s a despicable piece of propaganda masquerading as philosophy or the wordy windbagging twaddle of Plato from 2012.

My comment which is long enough to preserve is:
My impression is that Soc/Plat is reasonably good on the negatives: using questions to expose flaws in the opponents reasoning and ideas. But poor when attempting to put forward his own ideas as positives. Which ends up making the questioning seem cheap: it turns out that exposing at least a minor flaw in someone else's ideas is really not that hard; building something able to withstand close questions is difficult.
And to be sort-of fair it is the questioning that he is remembered for; no-one actually remembers the city-state-building in the Republic (and if they do remember it, they hate it).
There is also (sorry, I'm getting carried away, stop me when you're bored) possibly a very big philosophical error in all this, if you believe Popper's analysis. It's also quite subtle so I may get it wrong. It's in TOSAIE vol 1 I think. His point is that definitions - like "what is a puppy?" - in the hands of Plato turns into the Ideal Form of the Puppy, in order to explain how we all see young dogs and all these disparate objects are recognised as a puppy. Popper asserts that instead that it should be read in reverse, as a description. This does away with any need for Ideals, but it also implies that focussing on the meaning of a word - like "the Good" - becomes as pointless as focussing on the True Meaning of the word Puppy.
I find I've touched on this before; Justice and Injustice.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Where are the corpses?

John Bowles has left a new comment on your post "Another Koch-Up": 

We are already two degrees warmer than the 1850’s … more than that since the early 1800’s.

So my question to the assembled masses is … now that we’ve breached the all-important two degree Celsius climate limit, where are the corpses? Where are the unusual disasters? Where are the climate-related catastrophes? Why are there no flooded cities? What happened to the areas that were supposed to be uninhabitable? Where are the drowned atolls? We were promised millions of climate refugees, where are they?

In short, where are any of the terrible occurrences that we’ve been warned would strike us at the 2 degree Celsius limit?

Seriously, we’ve just done the natural experiment. The world has warmed up the feared amount, and there have been no increases in any climate-related disasters.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Quandaries about ethics

In Quandaries about ethics mt is anguished. I try to help, but I'm not sure I have (archive).

Updated archive. New comment:

I don't think I'm making my viewpoint at all clear. I may be forced to write my own post; everyone should re-invent their own wheel after all. But

> if the optimal pathway is one in which we could cross a number of climate tipping points, then how much confidence should we place in such an analysis? It may well be that it's been done as well as it possible could have been done, but if we aren't sure of the consequences of passing these tipping points, how do you incorporate them into the analysis?

I think is typical of the incompatibility between my (and std.econ) and mt / ATTP, I think. I find it very hard to understand what anyone means when they write stuff like that; it seems to imply a complete failure to understand the std.econ viewpoint. So I'll make one last despairing attempt here: the std.econ viewpoint takes into account all those tipping points, costs then as best it can, and then balances all the different costs in an attempt to provide a view of competing costs and benefits. This is fundamentally incompatible with your viewpoint, as I understand it, which is (I exaggerate for effect) "woo tipping point scary lets not go there". Which is to say you substitute your (and others) intuitive ideas of damage for the std.econ analysis.

There's probably an analogy here with the denialists; there usually is. The std.econ folk, if challenged, could write all their stuff down in numbers and equations. Just as folk could do the same for their calculations of warming, or of sea level rise. But the denialists that write bollox about "cooling is about to start" or "the GHE doesn't exist" can't write their stuff down in that way, and we are contemptuous of them for it. Why do you expect protection from contempt when you do the same for costs?

But Tim is an idiot

A Brief Segue Into Contestable Markets by CIP (archive). Not I think a post of any quality. I continue in the hope of converting him, with out any real hope. My comment below may be too provocative to live.

See-also: One More Try (archive).

> But Tim is an idiot.

No. You're being silly; and you're being silly from within the comfort of your own bubble. In any actual discussion of economics Timmy would rip you to shreds. Being Brave calling him an idiot here ought to be beneath you.

> Mr. Connolley

I didn't waste three years of my life for you to call me "Mr".

> A perfectly contestable market is not possible in real life.

Sigh. Yes, of course I read this. I almost wrote something pointing out that of course the theoretical perfection isn't actually met with in real life, but I thought: no, I'm talking to someone intelligent, I won't bother.

Consider physics. Often, physics problems neglect friction; air resistance. They do so because the fundamental features of the problem can be described in this way, without obscuring the essentials in pointless detail. Naturally, if making exact calculations this can be factored in. You know all this. I'm patronising you. You should not deserve this.

As to contestability: Micro$oft probably does have a genuine monopoly, but as I've already said, no-one really gives a toss any more. They are history.

Amazon and Google are I think contestable. It isn't free, but there are no real barriers, at least not compared to the scale of what is required. And of course Google is indeed contested.

Fb might be different due to network effects. But actually it is contested: many young folk head off to Instagram and so on. You're making the typical unimaginative "there is no alternative" when actually there are choices.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Things You Can't Say


PG is vair sensible; I came to his blog late, so have never read that one. But his "would have gotten me in big trouble in most of Europe in the seventeenth century, and did get Galileo in big trouble when he said it—that the earth moves" is probably wrong. G was stomped on for a variety of complex reasons; e.g. And he loses points for linking to Crichton, of course.

Is Galileo a side issue or not? Maybe; but people using him as an example and getting it wrong deserve correction. scottaaronson also gets him badly and naively wrong. Note that Galileo's only "firm" proof of the Earth moving (as opposed to a Tychonic system), the tides, was bollox.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

You keep parroting yourself on this point

New comment on your post "Morality and economics"
Author: Kevin ONeill

WC writes:"[...But the criticism of Stern was by mainstream economists, and doesn’t. I can’t decide if you’re so out of touch with the mainstream that you don’t know where it is, or if you’re being deliberately misleading -W]"

You keep parroting yourself on this point, but you never really have offered any evidence of it.  Stern's formula was based on *mainstream* economic theory.  It was supported by many *mainstream* economist.

What is true is that Nordhaus denigrated his choice of social discount rate and that the only real difference between the two was more specifically within the social discount rate the PRTP.

So there were  *mainstream* economists that lauded Stern's Review and there were some that didn't.  I've never seen *any* evidence - nor have you ever provided evidence -  that the majority fell one way or another at the time of publication.

We *do* know that since then the majority believe Stern's discount rate was too *high* and by inference Nordhaus was really, really wrong.  And that's the point you still refuse to address; who cares if mainstream economists thought he was wrong then?  Today they think the discount rate should be even lower.  Recent observatios and experience suggest they may *still* be too high even yet as more and more economists tend toward a belief in negative discounting.

I'm really not sure why you put yourself in a position of defending a past criticism that proved out to be incorrect - whether it was held by the majority or not.  Is it that difficult to admit that Stern's discount rate turned out to be appropriate after al and that maybe it should have been even lower?

BTW, Richard Thaler gets the Nobel Prize for Economics this time around.  That's two shots at the whole EMH and Rational agents crowd in just the past 5 years.  I think we know where mainstream economic thinking now lies.  Some people adjust to new evidence.  The Nobel Committee has, that's for sure.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Indeed, and it's hard to decide which of the two is the silliest.

Author: willard (@nevaudit)
> A better analogy is between the “correct” discount rate and the value of climate sensitivity.

Indeed, and it's hard to decide which of the two is the silliest.

Which returns us to the last time I visited:


There’s no discount rate to “find out.” In part because like climate sensitivity we only can establish a very rough ballpark, and in part because, like interest rates, it’s a human decision.


It'd be hard to deny that all we have are ranges of values in both cases. Yet the luckwarm playbook comes with this very pussyfooting in both cases.

Fancy that.