Final Standings for May
The winning team had Tyler Cowen, Andrew Sullivan, Yascha Mounk, Jonathan Rauch, and Nate Silver
The May season of Fantasy Intellectual Teams produced a very close contest at the top. The winning team was picked by Jonathan Thayil-Blanchard, who called his team “Tim the Enchanter.” The final category leaders were Robert Wright, Nate Silver, Richard Hanania, Jonathan Turley, Tyler Cowen, Amanda Ripley, Scott Alexander, Emily Oster, Daniel Kahneman, and Cass Sunstein.
The winning team had leading scorers in every category. Podcasters Tyler Cowen, Andrew Sullivan, and Yascha Mounk asked many Devil’s Advocate questions of their guests. Cowen, Mounk, and Nate Silver contributed points in the Open Mind category. Silver contributed as expected in the Thinking in Bets category. Cowen and Jonathan Rauch helped in the discussion-starter category.
Second place went to Tim Ryan’s Team HA. It was led by the formidable Robert Wright, who was at the top in three of the eight categories and second in another. Amanda Ripley also scored many points.
It turns out that in a one-month season, it helps to have a book come out. Ripley’s High Conflict generated a lot of buzz, including many podcast interviews with the author. Sunstein and Kahneman came out with a new book, Noise (co-authored with Oliver Sabony). In that work, the authors give very careful consideration to possible objections to their claims, and they deserved the many points that they scored.
Forthcoming books also brought in points. Rauch’s Constitution of Knowledge, which I have not yet seen, sounds like it will deal with issues relevant to this project. It already has kicked off discussions. And John McWhorter is using substack to preview his next book, tentatively titled The Elect. Galef, McWhorter, and Kahneman were stalwarts on the third-place “Free Lunch” team, which also included Richard Hanania and Jordan Peterson.
The strength of some of the players surprised me. Robert Wright produces a lot of content, mostly on a podcast, and he demonstrates what Galef would call “scout mindset.” He even surpassed Scott Alexander in player value. Legal scholar Jonathan Turley has strong opinions, but he gives due consideration to contrary ideas. Emily Oster is great at explaining what makes some statistical studies reliable and what makes other studies suspect. I had not followed Wright, Turley, and Oster before, but I will going forward.
I think that what the Fantasy Intellectual Teams project needs right now is some financial, technical, and marketing support to build the idea to the point where a major media institution takes it on. For now, I have a lot on my plate, and I will suspend it for June and July.
"Devil's Advocate" questions and 'Open Mind" seem like euphemisms for moral weakness.
There seems to be a pretty even distribution of top scorers on the left and right side of the political spectrum (I count 7-3 in favor of the left, but opinions on what counts as left vs right may vary).