Jordan Peterson: ‘Ideologues love vagueness’

Jordan Peterson, on Quora:

Ideologues love vagueness, but specificity is their enemy, because their low-resolution theories cannot deal with differentiated facts. One such example is the standard radical left claim, often implicit, that all differences in power that can be observed between any groups of people spring from injustice. You can make such a claim axiomatic, by defining injustice as that which produces differences in power between groups of people. You can extend it to include all differences in power between individuals as well. The advantage so such a claim are twofold. First, you have a convenient answer to a very large set of very complex questions, so you don’t have to study, and research and think. Second, you can claim the moral high-ground, as someone who “opposes discrimination.” It’s a pretty pathetic game, intellectually and morally, and has spawned some seriously virulent and murderous thoughts and actions. You have to go after such dough-like overgeneralization with very sharp knives.

I agree. Unfortunately, many ideologues have a wide appeal.

‘Journal of Political Economy’, 125

Founded in 1892, the prestigious Journal of Political Economy, published by the University of Chicago Press, turned 125 in 2017. The latest edition of the year includes a collection of commemorative essays entitled “The Past, Present and Future of Economics: A Celebration of the 125-Year Anniversary of the JPE and Chicago Economics”.

The introduction was written by John List, chairperson of the department of economics at the University of Chicago, and Harald Uhlig, head editor of the JPE.

We invited our senior colleagues at the department and several at Booth to contribute to this collection of essays. We asked them to contribute around 5 pages of final printed pages plus references, providing their own and possibly unique perspective on the various fields that we cover.

There was not much in terms of instructions. On purpose, this special section is intended as a kaleidoscope, as a colorful assembly of views and perspectives, with the authors each bringing their own perspective and personality to bear. Each was given a topic according to his or her specialty as a starting point, though quite a few chose to deviate from that, and that was welcome. […]

We asked that their contribution be about what the field has accomplished or about where the field might or should be going in the future. It is probably the nature of the beast that all chose a largely backward-looking perspective, providing an overview of how the field has developed over time and how the JPE helped this process along by publishing some of the key ideas and key contributions. But hop on board and start reading!

Lars Peter Hansen, Eugene Fama, Richard Thaler, Luigi Zingales, Robert Lucas, James Heckman, and Steven Levitt are some of the authors who chose to collaborate in the special edition. What a great team.

Access to the collection of essays is free.

Tyler Cowen on ‘Bloomberg View’

Interesting post by Tyler Cowen on Bloomberg View:

One of the most striking features of BV, from my personal point of view, is how many of the writers I was actively reading and following before they started with BV. […]

One day I woke up and realized these people write for Bloomberg View, or that people like them were going to, and then it occurred to me that maybe I should too. And there are still Bloomberg View writers I haven’t really discovered yet. (By the way, one reason all these people are so good is because of the consistently excellent editors.)

What is the common element behind all of these writers? I would say that Bloomberg View tends to hire reading-loving, eclectic polymaths, with both academic knowledge and real world experience, and whose views cannot always be predicted from their other, previous writings.

Over the last year, I think I would nominate Ross Douthat as The Best Columnist. But overall I think Bloomberg View has assembled the most talented and diverse group of opinion contributors out there, bar none.

On top of all that, BV is perhaps the least gated major opinion website.

The list of columnists for Bloomberg View is really admirable. It may be even possible to say that, within a certain scope, Bloomberg View alone is better than all of Brazil (i.e., considering all its news publications) when it comes to opinion writers.

Sebastián Piñera, economist

Sebastián Piñera, recently elected to the presidency of Chile (a position he held from 2010 to 2014), has a PhD in economics from Harvard. He has published articles in the Journal of Economic History, the Journal of Development Economics, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics, all of them top journals.

(Interesting: Google Scholar returns different results in searches for “Sebastian Pinera” and “ Sebastián Piñera”.)