Friday, September 18, 2009

Ellsberg, Cowen, Meth and My Lai

Our conference is winding down, so I guess I can get back to blogging without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else :-)

One of the pleasures of travel in the pre-internet era was being disconnected from world events. I fondly recall poring over the Herald Tribune in cafes as the preferred method for getting the news. During this trip I've only scanned the news and blogs in a cursory fashion, but I did listen to a fair number of podcasts while on planes, a ferry, and falling asleep near lapping waves. Below are some recommendations.

Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers) interview. In the interview Ellsberg compares Afghanistan to Vietnam; I don't know enough to judge whether the analogy is reasonable. I recommend this biography, which also covers his early history as an academic, working on game theory and decision theory. Ellsberg wrote this influential 1957 paper discussing the difference between Knightian (unmeasurable) uncertainty and (measurable) risk while a Junior Fellow at Harvard. These comments by Nobelist Thomas Schelling, who was something of a mentor to Ellsberg, are fascinating.

Interview with Tyler Cowen on Econtalk, about his recent book Create Your Own Economy. Buddhists vs autists?

Interview with Nick Reding, author of Methland: the Death and Life of an American Small Town, about methamphetamines and their impact on a small Iowa town.

The My Lai tapes (BBC documentary). Part 2. Sad but true.


Ian Smith said...
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Ian Smith said...

Cowen's use of "autistic" is an example of thinking of words as referring to things all by themselves independently of what they are used to refer to by the people who use them.

This is true of all psychiatric/ psychological labels.

Another way of putting it is: Autism and other such "disorders" do not have symptoms or characteristics. A person cannot "have" a psychiatric disorder. What can be said is: This person fulfills this definition of the word "autistic". The symptoms are the disease.

Meth Abuse said...

On the more encouraging side, vaccinated cocaine addicts who snorted up under laboratory conditions reported wanting to beat down research assistants for giving them stuff that had been stepped on. ... land; excelled at a sport; attained fluency in two or more languages; had both a major and a minor, sometimes two, usually in unrelated fields (philosophy and molecular science, mathematics and medieval literature); and yet found time

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