Hie actually put his comments here rather than Delong’s post, but since they seemed rather out of place I decided to move them.
I think as a public expert you go far in being on the side of angels with this post and in general. I take issue only with this line at the end: “help us manage the world to attain the greatest good for the greatest number.” like that’s a smart way to frame the end goal: I think it just rewards population growth competition, a perverse incentive structure.
I like that you’re standing up to what I think is (like a lot of narcissistically/competively deformed public epistemological framings) a kind of hedonic rentier spending of our commons -in this case bashing experts out of the basest of human instincts the desire for “people more like me” to manage resources, because it raises my trait population’s status, rather than for the most effective resource managers to manage those resources.
I think we should start calling out that form of hedonic spending and rent-seeking for what it is.
At the same time I think we should work to neutralize it by burnishing populist credentials (trait-based, not dumb ideological based) within the cohort of most effective resource managers.
Great economics can be done at flagship large population state schools. Experts on public administraton and policy can develop fluencies in mass culture and subcultures without having to lie about serious intellectual and empirical consensus on topics ranging from christianity to counterintuitive insights from empirical macroeconomic research.
We need more top caliber public experts who struggle to remain on the said of the angels AND who struggle to engage mass culture, the way Professor Krugman and (in my opinion) Professor Mankiw do.
The craven, irresponsible, and ultimately destructive narcissitic public epistemology hedonism of folks like Will Wilkinson needs a publicly engaged alternative. Before the rise of the expert academic blogs, I felt trapped in a Orwellian world of relative intellectual mediocrity on all sides.
It’s refreshing to get the unfiltered thoughts of people much smarter than me, even if the ideologically undeformed empirically fluent expert remains asymptotic, particulalry in the social sciences.
Ultimately aren’t all of us Great Plains Apes subuseful in (seems to be less meaninglessly populist than subnormal) the forecastible future? Seems like it’s check mate, and just a matter of # of moves and illusion of humane habitat in the interim.
A personality and ape-like theatre of consciousness seems to me to be dead weight for a von neumann replictator.
I think the media engaged academics like you and Prof. Krugman are doing a good job, but I see real coordination failure by media and popular political elites.
Even on CNN and MSNBC I see shtick by personalities railing against the federal government spending too much.
The inability of major networks and mass constituency politicians too coordinate to resist fiscal restraint pandering for popularity is a wicked problem, and I recommend you shift focus a bit to highlight experts at solving these type of wicked problems.