keskiviikkona, toukokuuta 04, 2005

Herbert Simon ja Steven Levitt

Löysinpä hauskan sitaatin monitieteelliseltä yhteiskuntatieteilijältä Herbert Simonilta:
We have become accustomed to the idea that a natural system like the human body or an ecosystem regulates itself. To explain the regulation, we look for feedback loops rather than a central planning and directing body. But somehow our intuitions about self-regulation without central direction do not carry over to the artificial systems of human society. I retain vivid memories of the astonishment and disbelief always expressed by the architecture students to whom I taught urban land economics many years ago when I pointed to medieval cities as marvelously patterned systems that had mostly just "grown" in response to myriads of individual decisions. To my students a pattern implied a planner in whose mind it had been conceived and by whose fiat it had been implemented. The idea that a city could acquire its pattern as "naturally" as a snowflake was foreign to them. They reacted to it as many Christian fundamentals responded to Darwin: no design without a Designer!
Vakkarini Virginia Postrel jatkaa samasta aiheesta:
The dynamist insight that "sometimes unconscious evolution can come up with better solutions than our best engineers" is hard for many people to fathom. Confronted with such an undesigned order, stasists tend to personify it - to treat it as a single intelligence. So, for instance, Arthur Schlesinger talks about "the computer" and "the untrammeled market" as though technological and economic systems were unitary actors rather than complex, evolving processes driven by millions of individual choices.
Juuri postissa saapunut Steven Levittin Freakonomics ihastuttaa myös. Jaksankohan pysytellä erossa siitä ja lukea lukemattomat kirjani sovitussa järjestyksessä?
He seemed to look at things not so much as an academic but as a very smart and curious explorer - a documentary filmmaker, perhaps, or a forensic investigator or a bookie whose markets ranged from sports to crime to pop culture. He professed little interest in the sort of monetary issues that come to mind when most people think about economics; he practically blustered with self-effacement. "I just don't know very much about the field of economics. I'm not good at math, I don't know a lot of econometrics, and I also don't know how to do theory. If you ask me about whether the stock market's going up or down, if you ask me whether the economy's going to grow or shrink, if you ask me whether deflation's good or bad, if you ask me about taxes - I mean, it would be total fakery if I said I knew anything about any of those things". What interested Levitt were the stuff and riddles of everyday life. His investigations were a feast for anyone wanting to know how the world really works.

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