Russ Roberts

The seductiveness of beauty

EconTalk Extra
by Russ Roberts
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Postmortem on Sachs Episode... John Christy and Kerry Emanuel...

Stanford's Andrei Linde discovers that his theory about the first nano-nano-nano-second of the universe is confirmed by the latest experimental evidence. It is very moving. EconTalk listeners will particularly enjoy his closing remarks about the dangers of confirmation bias. He says:

If this is true, this is a moment of understanding of nature, of such a magnitude, it just overwhelms. Let's just hope that this is not a trick. I always live with this feeling--what if I am tricked, what if I believe in this just because it is beautiful...

It's a danger for all of us--we are all at risk at being tricked. Though sometimes it's not beauty but comfort or habit. Always good to remember. Richard Feynman said it best:

The first principle is not to fool yourself--and you are the easiest person to fool.

Coming next to EconTalk--John Christy and Kerry Emanuel discuss climate change.



[Addendum: Video on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOysRpdo7hY -- Econlib. Ed.]

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Mike Riddiford writes:

Actually, I found the first part of his statement the most interesting, i.e. "If this is true, this is a moment of understanding of nature, of such a magnitude, it just overwhelms."

Oh, really? And we would personally know that how?

I sometimes thinks these fundamental physicists are like medieval theologians studying their ancient Latin texts and calling us to wonder. I guess, given we don't have the Latin/theoretical physics backgrounds, we will just have to trust them on this ;)

Christian writes:

@Mike Riddiford I guess the only difference is one invented the A-bomb and the other not so much.

Also, the link is broken and there is no podcast to listen to, please fix!

John Stalnaker writes:

Please make the supplementary podcasts available for download on iTunes Store.

[Hi, John. All of the EconTalk podcast episodes are available in the iTunes Store as usual. There are no additional supplementary podcast episodes that are not already available via iTunes. You may continue to subscribe in iTunes to any of our iTunes feeds, such as our primary weekly iTunes audio feed at http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/EconTalk.xml . You will not miss a single podcast episode!

Starting last week, we have started to offer some additional occasional text /discussion-only blog posts, which we are calling Extras. There are no new or supplementary podcast episodes associated with these discussion-only Extras. If you already subscribe via iTunes, you won't miss a single podcast episode. However, iTunes does not allow for text/discussion-only blog posts.

If you want to be alerted to the new discussion-only Extras as well as to the weekly podcast episodes, you can subscribe in your favorite news-reader to http://www.econtalk.org/index.xml which is one of several of our text-and-audio options. Many folks already subscribe to that feed, which brings you all of our Readings and Highlights along with the weekly podcast episodes. If you already subscribe to that feed you will be alerted automatically to all of the text and audio options--that is, to both the Extras and the weekly podcast episodes. You are not missing a thing! If so far you only subscribe via iTunes, you may want to add the text-and-audio subscription to your newsreader so that you are also alerted to the discussion-only Extras.

If iTunes, audio, or newsreader rss feeds are not your thing, you can always come to our home page. For even more subscription options, see http://www.econtalk.org/index.html#subscribe or email me at webmaster@econlib.org. Hope that helps. Sorry for the confusion.--Econlib Ed.]

Sarah Skwire writes:

I won't surprise you one bit, Russ, when I note that poetry talks about the seductiveness of beauty all the time--simultaneously fascinated and repelled by its power to affect the mind.

Virginia Alexander writes:

I'm chuckling to myself in a friendly way about Dr. Chao-Lin Kuo's omission of any social pleasantries; no "Good morning!", "How are you?", "Sorry to drop in so early" ... which is proof that this wasn't staged.

I suppose that within the community of physicists, it would be less polite to waste a colleague's time with "Good morning" when there's important news to be shared.

[Chao-Lin Kuo's name corrected--Econlib Ed.]

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