Sunday Links

  • I have just discovered (via Ben Kuhn) a wonderful blog called Ribbonfarm. While I’m still struggling to understand what the site is really about,1 I feel obligated to share an outstanding summary of the book Seeing Like a State in the post “A Big Little Idea Called Legibility”. Ribbonfarm’s author presents the “authoritarian high-modernist recipe for failure,” a detail of the process by which leaders throughout history have consistently attempted at utopian reform for the better and failed miserably. Seeing Like a State went onto my reading list immediately after I finished this article.
  • The Three Languages of Politics presents a “three-axis model” which is claimed to chain modern political discourse, restricting the various political “tribes” (in this model, progressives, conservatives, and libertarians) from having real constructive debates. Actively detach yourself from the axis on which your System 1 lounges, he suggests, and you’ll be able to better understand the arguments of those who oppose you (and avoid engaging in the self-reinforcing rhetoric of the tribe you might associate with for any given issue).
  • Economist Bryan Caplan suggests we give those pushing a certain policy or perspective an “ideological Turing test”. Here’s the test: Take a person of ideology A and place him in a room of people who strongly support ideology B. If the person can’t convincingly argue for ideology B and blend in, the person fails the test. Those who fail this kind of test make it evident that they chose to simply argue for a side rather than examining all possible lines of reasoning.
  • “Lunch with the FT: Peter Thiel” gives a brief peek inside Thiel’s mind.
  • The Economist gives a really great overview of the Sapir-Whorf debate in “Do different languages confer different personalities?”. I’ll definitely refer people to this article when the Whorfian question comes up in future discussions.

  1. The site’s tagline, “experiments in refactored perception,” doesn’t help me too much.