Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

Archive for the ‘metacognition’ Category

Some Ideas

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1) A big list of unsolved problems. Doesn’t seeing them like that make you want to solve them just to check them off, forgetting the benefits to humanity and the Nobel prize?

2) A debate over complicated, abstract ideas carried out by hundreds of people over decades. Sound hard to understand? Its not so bad if you just look at the map. I had this debate-mapping idea myself but had not done anything with it; I’d like to see lots more of these done, in a slightly different format.

3) According to Time, Rumsfeld failed at counter-insurgency not because it was so inherently difficult but because he simply wasn’t trying very hard. This seems shocking but based on other things I’ve read it is certainly plausible and probably true.

4) Dredge the entirety of New York Harbor. You’ll be rich, an environmental hero, and solve a lot of lingering mysteries.

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Written by James Bailey

May 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Posted in goals, links, metacognition

Would Edmund Burke have opposed the war in Iraq?

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Edmund Burke, the 19th century British statesman and writer, is something of a patron saint to conservative intellectuals- the same people who spent countless hours arguing about whether the war was a good idea, the same people who largely decided that it was. So I was quite surprised to realize that I’ve never heard this question asked before.

Burke’s most celebrated book, Reflections on the Revolution in France, put forward the most basic conservative idea- that human institutions have evolved as they have for good reasons, and even seemingly unjust and arbitrary institutions should be changed gradually rather than completely overthrown. It is not obvious why overthrowing a government and trying to rebuild a country from the ground up is a better idea in the Iraq of 2003 than it was in the France of 1789. There are arguments to be made, of course, for why this time is different; but, by and large, they were not made. The problem was ignored.

Less famously, Burke was a leading anti-imperialist of his time, advocating a lighter hand in Ireland and India, and supporting the American revolutionaries. He was not a man to easily support the occupation of another nation.

This is the problem with having dead heroes. When they would agree with you, you take comfort in the fact and proclaim it. But when their condemnation should ring loud and clear, we do our best to silence their nagging voice.  When people we claim to respect cannot speak with their own voice, we must remember their words, whether they are convenient for us or not.  This sort of intellectual honesty, practiced widely, could have made for some very different recent history.

Written by James Bailey

July 14, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Thought Catalyst

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Brain output is quite variable, presumably because brain input is similarly variable.

So when is it that you think best?

For me, its in math classes.  My brain recognizes the diffuculty of the problems being presented, calls up the reserve power, then proceeds to apply it to any problem except the one being presented.  I should really just hang out in math classes all day without taking them and their associated grades.

Written by James Bailey

July 7, 2008 at 2:49 pm