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August 31, 2010

Lost in Transcription, welcome to the blogosphere!

Jon Wilkins, a former colleague at the Santa Fe Institute, has joined that illustrious, notorious and sometimes obnoxious group (well, perhaps that's just me) of scientists who blog. Welcome Jon!

Jon is blogging at a place he calls "Lost in Transcription" which will cover, in his words "Science, Poetry, and Current Events, where 'Current' and 'Events are broadly construed." This choice of topics reminds me of a quotation by P.A.M. Dirac that I like "In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite." Either way, Lost in Transcription should be an interesting read, and I'll be adding it to my RSS reader.

As a taste, here's an excerpt from Jon's musings over the weekend:

On aging, conservatism, and experimental economics

So, it is standard conventional wisdom that people are liberal when they're young, and conservative when they're old. To the extent that we interpret "liberal" as "eager for change" and "conservative" as "against change," this trajectory is only natural. Especially in the modern world, where things are changing all the time, it may simply come down to a difference in experience: you're less likely to pine for the way the world was thirty years ago if you weren't alive thirty years ago.

But what I am really interested in here is the apparent trend where people become more conservative with respect to economic policies. In this context, the argument about familiarity does not seem to hold. In the United States, the government's economic policies have been trending more conservative for decades, and the familiarity argument would predict that older people should be, on average, more liberal. However, there is a different aspect of familiarity that may be relevant, as it pertains to our beliefs about human nature...

posted August 31, 2010 03:07 PM in Pleasant Diversions | permalink