I think everyone should read Ezra Klein’s interview with Tyler Cowen, because Tyler is one of the greatest minds of our times.
“I have never come across a mind quite like Tyler Cowen’s. The George Mason University economist, and Marginal Revolution blogger, has an interesting opinion on, well, everything.”
But Tyler said something about the rationality community which I don’t agree with at all—And this is so typical of him.
The rationality community.
Well, tell me a little more what you mean. You mean Eliezer Yudkowsky?
Yeah, I mean Less Wrong, Slate Star Codex. Julia Galef, Robin Hanson. Sometimes Bryan Caplan is grouped in here. The community of people who are frontloading ideas like signaling, cognitive biases, etc.
Well, I enjoy all those sources, and I read them. That’s obviously a kind of endorsement. But I would approve of them much more if they called themselves the irrationality community. Because it is just another kind of religion. A different set of ethoses. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but the notion that this is, like, the true, objective vantage point I find highly objectionable. And that pops up in some of those people more than others. But I think it needs to be realized it’s an extremely culturally specific way of viewing the world, and that’s one of the main things travel can teach you.”
I read about half a dozen blogs every day, and Ezra seems to have covered almost all. Here’s my list.
Bryan Caplan’s blog on Econlog is my favorite blog. I’ve been reading Bryan for over 13 years. Bryan is the most objective thinker I’ve read, and I learned much of what I know from there. That’s because a blogger can add many dimensions to a blog post. Bryan also introduced me to many other thinkers like Thomas Szasz, Michael Huemer, Robin Hanson, Tyler Cowen, Steven Pinker, Timur Kuran and Daniel Kahneman. Bryan changed my views on parenting, economics, and philosophy—and many other fields.
Robin Hanson’s Overcoming Bias is just too good. I haven’t read anyone who looks at human nature so objectively and perceptively as Robin does. Economists and other social scientists don’t take office politics very seriously. Robin is a rare, honorable exception. Robin’s book “The Elephant In The Brain” will be out in January 2018. I’ve started reading it, and it’s quite good. Robin is an economist who is far too ahead of his time.
Scott Alexander is another brilliant blogger. I find his way of looking at the world truly compassionate and perceptive. His understanding of the world is more in sync with human nature than most other great intellectuals.
I just discovered Julia Galef. She’s young and is pretty good. I’ll soon read more of her. Julia Galef has a great book list here.
Tyler cowen and Alex Tabarrok run Marginal Revolution, one of the best economics blogs. Their stuff on India is more informed than the work of Indian intellectuals. Alex is in Mumbai now, and I met him over a month ago. I started taking Tyler seriously after I read his work on Asperger. I didn’t know what I was missing. Read my interview with Tyler.
Less Wrong is, again, great, great stuff. Generalizing from one example is my favorite article. That kind of thing makes me see everything in a different light.