Calm is not Rational

I do think those are basically the right judgments about fossil fuels: they are awesome, we should be glad that they existed, and it really sucks that we’re going to be giving them up, but it’s time to take action. That said, it’s not clear why I can’t also feel:

Anger that providence does not supply as good a solution without the costs.
Resentment that those who have profited from fossil fuel extraction are willfully denying the evidence that we must change.
Frustration that scientific consensus does not bind more of my fellow citizens and their elected representatives.
Suspicion of the ways that our current interests cause us to downplay the risks and need for resignation and determination.
Those seem perfectly rational to me, too. And we might not be able to hold all those emotions in our mind at the same time, and thus we find that we’re unable to capture the state of perfectly neutral ambivalence that Caplan here suggests is a prerequisite for being considered rational.

The Middle Class is Losing the Race for Second Place

I think about inequality a lot. But I also think about the middle class a lot, which isn’t quite the same thing. Generally, my sympathies lie with the “least advantaged” or “subaltern,” but I also feel the pull of the American cultural commitment to the middle class. There can be little doubt that we are… Continue reading The Middle Class is Losing the Race for Second Place

Deciding Whether or Not to Tell a Story

When I was an undergraduate, I took a class called “Truth and Beauty” with the poet Ann Lauterbach. It was basically a class on reading and writing essays, but I took it because I was a philosophy major and I thought it would be about aesthetics, i.e. about whether judgments about beauty can be true… Continue reading Deciding Whether or Not to Tell a Story

Sentence Lover

Tyler Cowen writes: I have an irrational fondness for this sentence of Mann’s: The First World War distracted governments from the task of monitoring insect movements. The sentence from Charles C. Mann is quite good, but Cowen’s sentence is better: it encapsulates his exuberance for the written word and for heterodox points of view. (And… Continue reading Sentence Lover