Nov 25, 2021Liked by Arnold Kling

Isn't a diagnosis of "irrationality" contigent on an identification of the goals of the institution?

For example, last week, Andrew Sullivan gave a long list of ways the big American newspapers got stories wrong in the last few years, always in a Left-leaning direction. (I imagine it would be even easier to do the same for Fox News.) But I don't think those media outlets are irrational; rather I think that getting stories correct does not aligns so well with the main goal, which is profit. According to Andrey Mir, it never aligned well, and now aligns differently than 20 years ago.

While it is now irrational to believe the media is (mainly) pursuing the goal of reporting truth, it still maybe rational for an institution to profess that belief.

An assumption that an institution acts rationally is perhaps a necessary step in inferring the goals of an institution.

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Nov 24, 2021Liked by Arnold Kling

Our examples suggest that hierarchies prune while networks promote.

Hierarchies (e.g. Halberstam/Vietnam,

corporations, bureaucracies) prune info, based on principal-agent incentives, as info moves up the chain.

Networks (e.g. Dreyfus Affair, Rittenhouse) differentially promote/demote info, based on narrative preferences and signaling incentives, giving critical mass to particular configurations. (Like Button dynamic)

Networks have the advantage that the information is available, just poorly distributed. So maybe the task for modern institutions is to leverage the power of networks to elicit, collate, and distribute info more effectively (prediction markets, superforecasters, multidisciplinary collaboration, algorithms, etc.)

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