Wednesday, January 03, 2007
I am not sure if it means I am intolerant of "other" world views, but reading a book that matches my own has overcome my general avoidance of books in general. I could describe its style as rambling, which matches my own style of argument. However, I guess that the concept of disproving some conventional wisdoms is absolutely necessary, but I would like it to go further and use the discoveries as assumptions to come to even more startling conclusions. With the abortion link, "modern" economies that attempt "prohibition" as pre Rowe vs Wade US or Romania become increasingly "unstable" due to the intergenerational positive feedbacks. I think one can come to this conclusion without necessarily coming to moral conclusions. Even as this book manages to disprove many conventional wisdoms, there are a thousand other conventional wisdoms that don't lend themselves to data mining at all. For instance, school results don't seem to be affected by changing schools, but other less measurable things are very likely to be affected. For instance, our choice of school change for our children had nothing to do with our desire for better school results, but a more subtle desire for better "life" results. It does make a mockery of peoples stated reasons for changing schools however. Every time I mention how good the reputation of the new school is, they tell or ask how many OP 1's they get. I hope that challenging conventional wisdoms becomes a worldwide habit. Other ones to work on - "War is bad", "Doctor visits make you live longer", "chicken bones should not be fed to dogs", "Global warming is the most serious global environmental problem". In that sense, does Levitt have a more important message than Lomborg? Probably. Levitt challenges conventional wisdoms overall and asks us to look at motives behind experts in general. Lomborg principally concentrates on environmental activists/experts and questions their record on excessive fearmongering and looks at a more pure economic approach, without also addressing the non-monetary aspects of environmental motives and where they may lead us both in a negative direction or a positive one.