Some Links to Consider, 8/11
Matt Yglesias on readers' questions; Jane Stroup on Hayek's theory of totalitarianism; Gurwinder on audience capture; John Cochrane on climate policy
I’m pro-charter and the pandemic experience didn’t really change that. But in D.C., at least, it revealed to me what I think was a dark side to the charters being more responsive to parental concerns, which was that the parents showed worse judgment than the school administrators about the cost-benefit of extremely cautious NPIs.
Charter schools gave people what they wanted in DC, good and hard. This is consistent with what Education Realist claims. But I would say that in places where parents wanted in-person learning for their children, private schools probably accommodated that, too.
Humans have never entirely given up their early instincts, however, and that draws them to socialism and fascism, said Hayek. Socialism and fascism give them the “visible common purpose” so essential in the distant past. But forcing people to share a visible common purpose is not compatible with freedom.
Balaji’s new book advocates network states in which people “share a visible common purpose” in Shaw’s terms. Balaji puts it
Every new startup society needs to have a moral premise at its core, one that its founding nation subscribes to
But Shaw, echoing Hayek, would fear that network states emerging in this faction would be “not compatible with freedom.”
Audience capture is an irresistible force in the world of influencing, because it's not just a conscious process but also an unconscious one. While it may ostensibly appear to be a simple case of influencers making a business decision to create more of the content they believe audiences want, and then being incentivized by engagement numbers to remain in this niche forever, it's actually deeper than that. It involves the gradual and unwitting replacement of a person's identity with one custom-made for the audience.
Back in the 1970s, Skinnerian psychology was still popular. So some students decided to try the theory of positive and negative reinforcement on their professor. They agreed that every time the professor moved to his right or backward, they would sit up and appear highly engaged. When he moved to his left or forward, they would look away and sink down. They reported that by the end of class he was standing in the far back corner.
I try to make sure to occasionally put up posts that will offend at least some of my readers. I don’t want to get to caught up in audience capture. I think that most of the folks worth drafting for Fantasy Intellectual Teams avoid audience capture. I think that Tyler goes so far as to deliberately take a poke at his audience now and then.
Why is there no Congressional Climate Calculation Office that scores how much carbon proposed legislation will save, and how much it will lower 2100 temperatures? The SEC wants to mandate that every company calculate and disclose carbon emissions, so it surely does not think it an insuperable task. If you have to do a full 5 year NEPA environmental assessment to build a road or conduct a controlled burn, why do you not have to do the most minimal calculation to save the environment?
Because being a climate policy maker means never having to show your work.