Archive for March, 2012

What If the National Debt Were Your Debt? – YouTube

March 28, 2012

Looking at the federal government budget at the scale of an average household:
Annual income: 50,000$
Annual expenses: 88,000$
Credit card debt: 320,000$

Ouch

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David Friedman on market failures

March 28, 2012

David Friedman describes market failures as situation where individual rationality does not lead to group rationality. What is best for individuals can create adverse effects for the group.
The prisoners dilemma is an archetype of this situation. Other so-called market failures include public goods and externalities.
Friedman illustrates this with many examples. But he also shows that the problem can often be designed around with creative market-based solutions. For instance ad-funded broadcast radio.
He goes on to apply the same analysis to political situations, with problems such as rational voter ignorance, high information costs and political long-termism.
He concludes that where markets are imperfect, markets still offer the best chance of solving the problem, whereas government intervention is less likely to do so.

How Simple Ideas Lead to Scientific Discoveries

March 18, 2012

Why Evolution Is True – Jerry Coyne (video)

March 9, 2012

The Magic of Consciousness

March 8, 2012

Fascinating talk on consciousness and how magic tricks and illusions can help us understand how the brain works.
He suggests that looking at consciousness as a hard problem is self-defeating, instead consciousness can only be the result of a collection of simple processes.
It may be uncomfortable, but the only magic that exists in reality consists of parlor tricks. So-called ‘real magic’ doesn’t exist.