About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Greg’s Picks

by Greg Linster

* FT’s Julian Baggini tries to make sense of the free will debate by reviewing some recently published books on the subject.

* Bank of America should have gone out of business back in 2008. Too Big to Fail is one thing, Too Corrupt to Fail is another.

* Did Jonah Lehrer stretch the facts in his newest book Imagine? Tim Requarth and Meehan Crist offer up a very solid critique of the book.

* Is there a reason why men tend to be overly represented in some scientific fields? In his book, Is There Anything Good About Men?, psychologist Roy Baumeister provocatively explores the sensitive topic of gender.

* Does one need to be a great thinker in order to be a great speaker?  Paul Graham pens an essay about the difference between writing and speaking.

* What happens when the robots get really good? The legendary character named Ned Ludd may be vindicated after-all. The Luddite Fallacy looks fallacious until it isn’t.


  1. Darn you, I'll have to peruse. Particularly that last one.

  2. RE: "If I were a worker in Amazon’s warehouses and could eventually be given a pink slip and replaced by an orange robot, I don’t think I would be so cheerful about this new work force."

    Said worker ought to increase one's human capital via education (vocational or otherwise) and / or redirect one's productive capacities to another sector. This usually occurs and is one reason why unemployment due to technological advancement (overwhelmingly) tends not to translate into long-term, structural unemployment.

    Moreover, as technology makes for more efficient production processes, and in turn decreases production costs, prices decrease (producers wish to dominate profits, not prices), resulting (in the short run) in increase purchasing power for the consumer, and (in the long run) more access to capital for entrepreneurs (which in turn results in job creation, amongst other things).

    This is part and parcel of what Joseph Schumpeter termed "creative destruction".


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