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August 31, 2012

Failed Entrepreneurial Firms that Signal New Markets Are "Optimistic Martyrs"




(p. 260) Colin Camerer and Dan Lovallo, who coined the concept of competition neglect, illustrated it with a quote from the then chairman of Disney Studios. Asked why so many expensive big-budget movies are released on the same days (such as Memorial Day and Independence Day), he replied: Hubris. Hubris. If you only think about your own business, you think, "I've got a good story department, I've got a good marketing department, we're (p. 261) going to go out and do this." And you don't think that everybody else is thinking the same way. In a given weekend in a year you'll have five movies open, and there's certainly not enough people to go around.

The candid answer refers to hubris, but it displays no arrogance, no conceit of superiority to competing studios. The competition is simply not part of the decision, in which a difficult question has again been replaced by an easier one. The question that needs an answer is this: Considering what others will do, how many people will see our film? The question the studio executives considered is simpler and refers to knowledge that is most easily available to them: Do we have a good film and a good organization to market it? The familiar System 1 processes of WYSIATI and substitution produce both competition neglect and the above-average effect. The consequence of competition neglect is excess entry: more competitors enter the market than the market can profitably sustain, so their average outcome is a loss. The outcome is disappointing for the typical entrant in the market, but the effect on the economy as a whole could well be positive. In fact, Giovanni Dosi and Dan Lovallo call entrepreneurial firms that fail but signal new markets to more qualified competitors "optimistic martyrs"-- good for the economy but bad for their investors.



Source:

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.






August 30, 2012

"People Were Being Infantilized and Made Dependent"




JohnsonBorisLondonMayor2012-08-20.jpg









Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.















(p. 16) While I was reading your book "Johnson's Life of London," in which you take readers on a tour of the city while discussing some of history's most famous Londoners, I thought to myself, Being mayor of London can't be that taxing if you could find time to write such a decent book.
The job of mayor of London is unbelievably taxing, particularly in the run-up to the Olympics. It just happens I write fast and always have done. Some people play the piano, some do Sudoku, some watch television, some people go out to dinner parties. I write books.


. . .


Do you remember the moment you knew that you were a Conservative?
When I was a 22- or 23-year-old reporter in a place called Wolverhampton. I got impatient with some of the stuff I saw going on about damp and mold, about who's ultimately responsible for improving the ventilation in people's houses. I felt that people were being infantilized and made dependent by the system and that the local Labour politicians had no interest in sorting it out, were content to harvest these people's votes without improving their lives.

Wow. You were politically formed by mold.
It was the spores of damp, of mold forming on the walls in Wolverhampton.



For the full interview, see:

ANDREW GOLDMAN, interviewer. "TALK; Boris Johnson, Tory With an Attitude." The New York Times Magazine (Sun., June 3, 2012): 16.

(Note: ellipsis added; bold in original.)



Johnson's book is:

Johnson, Boris. Johnson's Life of London: The People Who Made the City That Made the World. New York: Riverhead Books, 2012.






August 29, 2012

Resilience




(p. 183) In 1832, a young man was fired from his job and lost his bid for election to the state legislature. The next year his new business failed. Three years later he suffered a nervous breakdown. After recovering, he was defeated as speaker in the state legislature. He was defeated in his efforts to win his party's nomination to Congress in 1843. He was rejected as land officer in 1849. In 1854, he was defeated in the U.S. Senate election and, in 1856, his efforts to win the nomination as his party's vice president failed. The string of failures continued. He was again defeated in the Senate election in 1858. Finally, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the sixteenth president of the United States.


Source:

Audretsch, David. "Review of: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure." Journal of Economic Literature 50, no. 1 (March 2012): 183.






August 28, 2012

Entrepreneurs Thrive in a Culture of "Chutzpah"




VanceCyrus2012-08-22.jpg "Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.


(p. C13) Before a recent business trip to Israel, someone handed me a copy of "Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle," a book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer about Israel's culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism. I had finished the book on the overnight flight to Tel Aviv. When I returned home a week later, based on what I had seen in Israel, I purchased multiple copies and handed them out to senior staff who work with me.

"Start-Up Nation" recounts and dissects how Israel, in just 60 years, has thrived as an economy, creating an environment where talent and technology have attracted more venture-capital dollars per person than any other country in the world.

In a nutshell, and admittedly oversimplifying, the authors boil Israel's success down to a few, core themes. First, Israel was born into and exists in an adverse political environment. Surrounded by hostile neighbors, Israelis survived--and thrived--by adapting quickly, making the most out of limited resources and taking on outsize challenges without fear or undue regard for authority. The latter quality might be called chutzpah. Second, Israelis all participate in military service, before university. The skills they learn in the military, and the maturity they gain from military service, make their work force better skilled and more capable of better teamwork at the entry level on up.

If my recent visit provides any evidence of national characteristics, Israelis question authority, openly and all the time. At any given meal, whether it included ordinary citizens, generals, government officials or business executives, deference was in short supply. No quarter is given. But debate and disagreement create a climate of self-awareness. That in turns helps to create a culture of achievement.

So why did I give copies of the book to my senior staff? I believe in a bottom-up organizational culture, where problems are identified, raised and solved by the line employees who make the enterprise run. Our American system--and especially our legal and government cultures--frequently operates with a top-down style, which can discourage creativity and individualism.

The one thing that I am not planning to do is give copies of "Start-Up Nation" to my children until they graduate from college and have left the house. They have questioned my authority enough already.



For the full book discussion, see:

Cyrus Vance. "Twelve Months of Reading: Cyrus Vance." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., December 17, 2011): C13.

(Note: the broad multi-page article was sub-divided into sections headed by the name of the person who was writing the book advice in that section. Internally the broad article seemed to be entitled "Books of the Year.")


The first book Vance recommends is:

Senor, Dan, and Saul Singer. Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. hb ed. New York: Twelve, 2009.






August 27, 2012

Overly Optimistic Entrepreneurs Seek Government Support for Projects that Will Usually Fail





People have a right to be overly-optimistic when they invest their own money in entrepreneurial projects. But governments should be prudent caretakers of the money they have taken from taxpayers. The overly-optimistic bias of subsidy-seeking entrepreneurs weakens the case for government support of entrepreneurial projects.


(p. 259) The optimistic risk taking of entrepreneurs surely contributes to the economic dynamism of a capitalistic society, even if most risk takers end up disappointed. However, Marta Coelho of the London School of Economics has pointed out the difficult policy issues that arise when founders of small businesses ask the government to support them in decisions that are most likely to end badly. Should the government provide loans to would-be entrepreneurs who probably will bankrupt themselves in a few years? Many behavioral economists are comfortable with the "libertarian paternalistic" procedures that help people increase their savings rate beyond what they would do on their own. The question of whether and how government should support small business does not have an equally satisfying answer.


Source:

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.





August 26, 2012

Decouple Learning from Credentialing




HennessyKhan2012-08-20.jpg



"JOHN HENNESSY: 'There's a tsunami coming.' [At left] . . . , John Hennessy & Salman Khan." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.



(p. R8) Is there anything to be done about the rising price of higher education? That was the question posed to John Hennessy, president of Stanford University, and Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, a nonprofit online-learning organization. They sat down with The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg to discuss how technology might be part of the solution.

Here are edited excerpts of their conversation.


. . .


MR. MOSSBERG: You have a lot of money at Stanford. I've been, until recently, a trustee of Brandeis University. It's a very good university. It charges about what you do. But it doesn't have your money, and there are a lot of colleges like that.

MR. HENNESSY: Agreed, and if you look at the vast majority of colleges in the U.S., there are way too many that are [dependent on tuition to fund their budgets]. That is not sustainable. We have to do something to bend the cost curve, and this is where technology comes in.

MR. KHAN: On the sustainability question, I agree. I think the elites will probably do just fine, but for the bulk of universities, nothing can grow 5% faster than inflation forever. It will just take over the world, and that's what's happening now.

There is a fundamental disconnect happening between the providers of education and the consumers of education. If you ask universities what they are charging the $60,000 for, they'll say, "Look at our research facilities. Look at our faculty. Look at the labs and everything else." And then if you ask the parents and the students why they are taking on $60,000 of debt, they'll say, "Well, I need the credential. I need a job."

So one party thinks they're selling a very kind of an enriching experience, and the other one thinks that they're buying a credential. And if you ask the universities what percentages of your costs are "credentialing," they say oh, maybe 5% to 10%. And so I think there's an opportunity if we could decouple those things--if the credentialing part could happen for significantly less.

MR. MOSSBERG: What do you mean by the credentialing part?

MR. KHAN: If you think about what education is, it's a combination. There's a learning part. You learn accounting, you learn to write better, to think, whatever. Then there is a credentialing part, where I'm going to hand you something that you can go take into the market and signal to people that you know what you're doing.

Right now they're very muddled, but this whole online debate or what's happening now is actually starting to clarify things. At Khan Academy we're 100% focused on the learning side of things. And I think it would be interesting [if credentials could be earned based on what you know and not on where you acquired that knowledge].



For the full interview, see:

Walt Mossberg, interviewer. "Changing the Economics of Education; John Hennessy and Salman Khan on how technology can make the college numbers add up." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., June 4, 2012): R8.

(Note: bracketed words in caption, and ellipses, added; bold and italics in original.)






August 25, 2012

Environmental "Witch-Hunt" Kills "Golden Rice"




(p. C4) Vitamin A deficiency affects the immune system, leading to illness and frequently to blindness. It probably causes more deaths than malaria, HIV or tuberculosis, killing as many people every single day as the Fukushima tsunami. It can be solved by eating green vegetables and meat, but for many poor Asians, who can afford only rice, that remains an impossible dream. To deal with the problem, "biofortification" with genetically modified food plants is 1/10th as costly as dietary supplements.

"Golden rice"--with two extra genes to make beta-carotene, the raw material for vitamin A--was a technical triumph, identical to ordinary rice except in color. Painstaking negotiations led to companies waiving their patent rights so the plant could be grown and regrown free by anybody.

Yet today, 14 years later, it still has not been licensed to growers anywhere in the world. The reason is regulatory red tape deliberately imposed to appease the opponents of genetic modification, which Adrian Dubock, head of the golden rice project, describes as "a witch-hunt for suspected theoretical environmental problems...[because] many activist NGOs thought that genetically engineered crops should be opposed as part of their anti-globalization agenda."

It is surprising to find that an effective solution to the problem consistently rated by experts as the poor world's highest priority has been stubbornly opposed by so many pressure groups supposedly acting on behalf of the poor.



For the full commentary, see:

MATT RIDLEY. "MIND & MATTER; Red Tape Hobbles a Harvest of Life-Saving Rice." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., May 18, 2012): C4.

(Note: ellipsis in original.)

(Note: the online version of the article has the date May 18, 2012.)






August 24, 2012

"Discovering a Viper in the Bed of Their Child"




ArguablyBK2012-08-21.jpg













Source of book image: http://files.list.co.uk/images/2011/09/15/arguably-lst090367.jpg





(p. 8) Anyone who occasionally opens one of our more serious periodicals has learned that the byline of Christopher Hitchens is an opportunity to be delighted or maddened -- possibly both -- but in any case not to be missed. He is our intellectual omnivore, exhilarating and infuriating, if not in equal parts at least with equal wit. He has been rather famously an aggressive critic of God and his followers, after cutting his sacrilegious teeth on Mother Teresa. He wrote a deadpan argument for trying Henry Kissinger as a war criminal, then was branded an apostate by former friends on the left for vigorously supporting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (He memorably -- a lot of what Hitchens has written merits the adverb -- shot back that his antiwar critics were "the sort who, discovering a viper in the bed of their child, would place the first call to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.") And he is dying of esophageal cancer, a fact he has faced with exceptional aplomb.

This fifth and, one fears, possibly last collection of his essays is a reminder of all that will be missed when the cancer is finished with him.


. . .


(p. 9) At times the book feels like an ongoing argument with the leftist intellectuals on the other side of the Atlantic, who tend to view America as lacking in history, culture or moral standing.

In an essay on the journalism of Karl Marx, written for the left-leaning Guardian, he puts an elbow in the ribs of his old socialist friends: "If you are looking for an irony of history, you will find it . . . in the fact that he and Engels considered Russia the great bastion of reaction and America the great potential nurse of liberty and equality. This is not the sort of thing they teach you in school (in either country)."

"There is currently much easy talk about the 'decline' of my adopted country, both in confidence and in resources," he writes in his introduction. "I don't choose to join this denigration."

Christopher Hitchens: American patriot. We've done a lot worse.

If there is a God, and he lacks a sense of irony, he will send Hitchens to the hottest precinct of hell. If God does have a sense of irony, Hitchens will spend eternity in a town that serves no liquor and has no library. Either way, heaven will be a less interesting place.



For the full review, see:

BILL KELLER. "Christopher Hitchens, a Man of His Words." The New York Times Book Review (Sun., September 11, 2011): 8-9.

(Note: ellipsis between paragraphs was added; ellipsis internal to a Hitchens quote was in the original.)

(Note: the online version of the article is dated September 9, 2011.)


The full reference for Arguably, is:

Hitchens, Christopher. Arguably: Essays. New York: Twelve, 2012.



HitchensChristopher2012-08-21.jpg













"Christopher Hitchens." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.








August 23, 2012

For Inventors "Optimism Is Widespread, Stubborn, and Costly"




(p. 257) One of the benefits of an optimistic temperament is that it encourages persistence in the face of obstacles. But persistence can be costly. An impressive series of studies by Thomas ├ůstebro sheds light on what happens when optimists receive bad news. He drew his data from a Canadian organization--the Inventors Assistance Program--which collects a small fee to provide inventors with an objective assessment of the commercial prospects of their idea. The evaluations rely on careful ratings of each invention on 37 criteria, including need for the product, cost of production, and estimated trend of demand. The analysts summarize their ratings by a letter grade, where D and E predict failure--a prediction made for over 70% of the inventions they review. The forecasts of failure are remarkably accurate: only 5 of 411 projects that were given the lowest grade reached commercialization, and none was successful.

Discouraging news led about half of the inventors to quit after receiving a grade that unequivocally predicted failure. However, 47% of them continued development efforts even after being told that their project was hopeless, and on average these persistent (or obstinate) individuals doubled their initial losses before giving up. Significantly, persistence after discouraging advice was relatively common among inventors who had a high score on a personality measure of optimism--on which inventors generally scored higher than the general population. Overall, the return on private invention was small, "lower than the return on private equity and on high-risk securities." More generally, the financial benefits of self-employment are mediocre: given the same qualifications, people achieve higher average returns by selling their skills to employers than by setting out on their own. The evidence suggests that optimism is widespread, stubborn, and costly.



Source:

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.





August 22, 2012

"It's All about Creative Destruction"




EllisonLarry2012-08-20.jpg













"LARRY ELLISON: 'It's all about creative destruction.'" Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.




(p. R6) In Silicon Valley, a spot known for constant change, Larry Ellison has kept his job atop Oracle Corp. . . . for decades. And that gives him a unique perspective on the industry and where it's headed.

The Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher spoke with Mr. Ellison about the state of tech innovation, the future of the Internet--and what keeps him inspired.

What follows are edited excerpts of their discussion.


. . .


MS. SWISHER: A lot of people talk about the end of Silicon Valley, the end of innovation. Do you imagine that?

MR. ELLISON: It's all about creative destruction. Remember Woody Allen's great line about relationships: "Relationships are like a shark. It either has to move forward, or it dies."

That's true of a company. If you don't keep your technology current, if you're not monitoring what is possible today that wasn't possible yesterday, then someone's going to beat you to the punch. Someone's going to get ahead of you, and you're going to lose your customers to some competitor.

We see a lot of companies in Silicon Valley that are under stress now. But there are a lot of other companies that have come along and are doing interesting things.


. . .


MS. SWISHER: What keeps you going?

MR. ELLISON: Red Bull.

I mean, this is going to sound really corny, but life's a journey of discovery. I'm really fascinated by people, and by what can be done with technology. I also enjoy the competition, the process of learning as we compete, learning as we exploit these technologies to solve customer problems.

The whole thing is just fascinating. I don't know what I would do if I retired.




For the full interview, see:

Kara Swisher, interviewer. "Silicon Valley, the Long View; Larry Ellison on how much simpler the consumer has it now." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., June 4, 2012): R6.

(Note: ellipses added; bold and italics in original.)






August 21, 2012

Global Warming Heretic Svensmark May Be the Next Shechtman




(p. C) The list of scientific heretics who were persecuted for their radical ideas but eventually proved right keeps getting longer. Last month, Daniel Shechtman won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of quasicrystals, having spent much of his career being told he was wrong.

"I was thrown out of my research group. They said I brought shame on them with what I was saying," he recalled, adding that the doyen of chemistry, the late Linus Pauling, had denounced the theory with the words: "There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists."

The Australian medical scientist Barry Marshall, who hypothesized that a bacterial infection causes stomach ulcers, received similar treatment and was taken seriously only when he deliberately infected himself, then cured himself with antibiotics in 1984. Eventually, he too won the Nobel Prize.


. . .


Perhaps it's at least worth guessing which of today's heretics will eventually win a Nobel Prize. How about the Dane Henrik Svensmark? In 1997, he suggested that the sun's magnetic field affects the earth's climate--by shielding the atmosphere against cosmic rays, which would otherwise create or thicken clouds and thereby cool the surface. So, he reasoned, a large part of the natural fluctuations in the climate over recent millennia might reflect variation in solar activity.

Dr. Svensmark is treated as a heretic mainly because his theory is thought to hinder the effort to convince people that recent climatic variation is largely manmade, not natural, so there is a bias toward resisting his idea. That does not make it right, but some promising recent experiments at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) raise the probability that Dr. Svensmark might yet prove to be a Shechtman.



For the full commentary, see:

MATT RIDLEY. "MIND & MATTER; Is That Scientific Heretic a Genius--or a Loon?" The Wall Street Journal (Sat., November 12, 2011): C4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)






August 20, 2012

Catherine the Great as Benevolent Despot




CatherineTheGreatBK2012-08-18.jpg















Source of book image: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204644504576653083743832432.html?KEYWORDS=Catherine+Great



(p. C3) Bereft of husband and child, a lonely Catherine began to read the histories, philosophy and literature of Greece and Rome and of the Enlightenment. Montesquieu's "The Spirit of Laws," which analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of despotic rule, had a powerful impact on her. She was particularly interested in his thesis that the conduct of a specific despot could partially redeem that form of rule. Thereafter, she attributed to herself a "republican soul" of the kind advocated by Montesquieu.

Voltaire, the venerated patriarch of the Enlightenment, had concluded that a despotic government might well be the best possible form of government--if it were reasonable. But to be reasonable, he said, it must be enlightened; if enlightened, it could be both efficient and benevolent. Soon after ascending to the throne, Catherine began a correspondence with Voltaire that eventually extended to hundreds of letters over more than 20 years.


. . .


Near the end of her reign Catherine was asked how she understood the "blind obedience with which her orders were obeyed." Catherine smiled and answered, "It is not as easy as you think.... I examine the circumstances, I take advice, I consult the enlightened part of the people, and so in this way I find out what sort of effect my laws will have. And when I am already convinced in advance of good approval, then I issue my orders and have the pleasure of observing what you call blind obedience."

Catherine died in 1796, when George Washington was finishing his second term in office. Since then, the temptations of absolute power have remained great; despots have continued to appear, afflicting people everywhere. We have learned, at enormous cost, the difficulty of combining despotism with benevolence. Few rulers have even tried. Catherine tried.



For the full commentary, see:

ROBERT K. MASSIE. "Catherine the Great's Lessons for Despots; Russia's erudite empress tried to redeem absolute rule; her failures highlight dangers still present today." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., November 12, 2011): C3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)


For Massie's full biography of Catherine the Great, see:

Massie, Robert K. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman. New York: Random House, 2011.






August 19, 2012

Entrepreneurs Are Optimistic About the Odds of Success




(p. 256) The chances that a small business will survive for five years in the United States are about 35%. But the individuals who open such businesses do not believe that the statistics apply to them. A survey found that American entrepreneurs tend to believe they are in a promising line of business: their (p. 257) average estimate of the chances of success for "any business like yours" was 60%--almost double the true value. The bias was more glaring when people assessed the odds of their own venture. Fully 81% of the entrepreneurs put their personal odds of success at 7 out of 10 or higher, and 33% said their chance of failing was zero.


Source:

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.





August 18, 2012

Ronald Reagan Celebrated Opening of Disneyland




ReaganCohostingOpeningDisneyland2012-08-17.jpg "Ronald Reagan, left, helped host a TV show about Disneyland's opening in 1955." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. 11) In an unusual collaboration of presidential scholarship and mass-market entertainment -- featuring two men who, truth be told, were never particularly close -- the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Walt Disney Company have joined together to open a sprawling, nine-month exhibition drawn from the Disney archives.


. . .


Reagan was one of three M.C.'s for the televised opening of Disneyland in 1955; a grainy video in the exhibit captures the event. As governor, Reagan petitioned the United States postmaster to issue a Walt Disney stamp, and he was on hand in 1990 for Disneyland's 35th anniversary.

"He and Walt Disney did know each other," said Robert A. Iger, the chief ex-(p. 16)ecutive and chairman of the Walt Disney Company. "They became Californians. And they clearly had mutual respect for one another."



For the full story, see:

ADAM NAGOURNEY and BROOKS BARNES. "In New Exhibit, Disney Lends Its Star Power to Reagan, and Vice Versa." The New York Times, First Section (Sun., July 22, 2012): 11 & 16.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the date of the online version of the article is July 21, 2012.)







August 17, 2012

"If Apple Is a Fruit on a Tree, Its Branches Are the Freedom to Think and Create"




(p. B3) Millions of Chinese flooded the popular micro blogging site Sina Weibo to tweet their condolences on the death of Steve Jobs over the past two days. They also raised the question: Why isn't there a Steve Jobs in China?


. . .


One of the most popular postings on Mr. Jobs' legacy came from scholar Wu Jiaxiang. "If Apple is a fruit on a tree, its branches are the freedom to think and create, and its root is constitutional democracy," he wrote. "An authoritarian nation may be able to build huge projects collectively but will never be able to produce science and technology giants." On that, Wang Ran, founder of a boutique investment bank China eCapital Corp., added, "And its trunk is a society whose legal system acknowledges the value of intellectual property."



For the full story, see:

Li Yuan. "China Frets: Innovators Stymied Here." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., October 8, 2011): B3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)





August 16, 2012

Dems Take Taxpayers' Earnings to Spend on Senator Reid's Cowboy Poets




SeemanCharlieWesternFolklifeFestival2012-08-15.jpg "Charlie Seemann at the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nev., home to an annual festival that draws thousands of cowboy poets and their fans." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.


(p. A15) ELKO, Nev. -- This isolated town in the northeast Nevada mountains is known for gold mines, ranches, casinos, bordellos and J. M. Capriola, a destination store with two floors of saddles, boots, spurs and chaps. It is also the birthplace of the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a celebration of range song and poetry that draws thousands of cowboys and their fans every January and receives some money from the federal government.


. . .


Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, a Democrat and the majority leader, invoked the event in arguing against Republican cuts in arts financing in the budget debate, setting off a conflagration of conservative scorn.


. . .


"He was trying to defend the National Endowment for the Humanities and the N.E.A., and he thought, this is something that he was familiar with and he's always liked, and he was holding this up as an example," said Charlie Seemann, the executive director of the Western Folklife Center, a converted 98-year-old hotel on Railroad Street. "And, whoops! In this political climate it was too good a target: 'Cowboy poetry, say what? We're paying for that?'


. . .


"Given where we are with our financial situation -- and some people would argue regardless of that -- this is not something that the federal government should be doing," said Thomas A. Schatz, the president of Citizens Against Government Waste. "If people want to support a certain amount of activity in the arts or humanities, they should be paying for it. And the fact that Senator Reid for some reason picked this as an example of how extreme the Republican budget was -- he might have picked something else."

Inevitably, some of the argument, as it were, is taking place in verse. Representative Jeff Flake, a conservative Republican from Arizona, posted this on his Twitter account:

Way out in the prairie

To a rustler named Harry

Being broke ain't no reason to sweat

Just sit in yer barn

Spin a rhythmic yarn

And you'll pay down the national debt!



For the full story, see:

ADAM NAGOURNEY. "For Cowboy Poets, Unwelcome Spotlight in Battle Over Spending." The New York Times (Mon., April 11, 2011): A15 & A17.

(Note: ellipses added; italics and indents in original print version.)

(Note: the date of the online version of the article is April 10, 2011.)







August 15, 2012

"Planning Fallacy": Overly Optimistic Forecasting of Project Outcomes




(p. 250) This should not come as a surprise: overly optimistic forecasts of the outcome of projects are found everywhere. Amos and I coined the term planning fallacy to describe plans and forecasts that

  • are unrealistically close to best-case scenarios
  • could be improved by consulting the statistics of similar cases


. . .


The optimism of planners and decision makers is not the only cause of overruns. Contractors of kitchen renovations and of weapon systems readily admit (though not to their clients) that they routinely make most of their profit on additions to the original plan. The failures of forecasting in these cases reflect the customers' inability to imagine how much their wishes will escalate over time. They end up paying much more than they would if they had made a realistic plan and stuck to it.

Errors in the initial budget are not always innocent. The authors of unrealistic plans are often driven by the desire to get the plan approved--(p. 251)whether by their superiors or by a client--supported by the knowledge that projects are rarely abandoned unfinished merely because of overruns in costs or completion times. In such cases, the greatest responsibility for avoiding the planning fallacy lies with the decision makers who approve the plan. If they do not recognize the need for an outside view, they commit a planning fallacy.



Source:

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.

(Note: ellipsis added; italics in original.)





August 14, 2012

"Let the Consumers Decide When and Where They Want to Eat"




BillowRachelLaCocinita2012-08-13.jpg"Rachel Billow is the co-founder of La Cocinita, a food truck in New Orleans that serves Latin American cuisine. She says the city's requirement that mobile food vendors change locations after 45 minutes in one spot isn't feasible. "It takes about a half-hour to set up," she says." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.



(p. B8) A street fight is brewing between gourmet food-truck vendors and restaurants--not over the grub, but how it's sold.

Under pressure to protect bricks-and-mortar restaurants from increased competition, several big cities are starting to apply the brakes on a rising tide of food-truck vendors with fully loaded kitchens.

Boston, Chicago, St. Louis and Seattle are among the cities enacting laws that restrict where food trucks can serve customers in proximity to their rivals and for how long. Some food-truck operators argue that they shouldn't be punished for offering an innovative service, especially since many cities already allow restaurants to open up alongside one another.

"The rules are unfair," says Amy Le, owner of Duck N Roll, a food truck in Chicago serving Asian-style cuisine that includes short ribs and mango lychee.

Three weeks after she launched the business last fall, she received a ticket from local law enforcement for doing business about 150 feet from a wine bar--50 feet within the city's limit for how close food trucks can park outside of retail food establishments.

Ms. Le says she later had to spend nearly a full day in court to find out what the violation would cost her--about $300--and that she lost an estimated $600 to $700 in sales as a result.

"The 200-foot buffer prohibits me from competing," says Ms. Le, 32 years old, who also opposes a new rule requiring food trucks to install global-positioning devices so the city can track their whereabouts. "It is a free market. Let the consumers decide when and where they want to eat."


. . .


Gourmet food-truck operators say another problem is that in many cities they are still relegated to antiquated rules intended for ice-cream, hot-dog and other traditional mobile vendors with smaller and less complex menus.

New Orleans, for example, requires mobile food vendors to change locations after 45 minutes in one spot, among other restrictions.

"It's not a feasible amount of time for this business model," says 31-year-old Rachel Billow, who last year co-founded La Cocinita, a food truck that serves Latin American cuisine such as plantains and arepas. "It takes about a half-hour to set up."

Ms. Billow says she and her business partner, Venezuelan chef Benoit Angulo, started La Cocinita after several years of working in the restaurant industry. They invested $50,000 in start-up costs, an amount that included $12,000 in modifications to their vehicle to satisfy the city's fire code, she adds.



For the full story, see:

SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN. "Street Fight: Food Trucks vs. Restaurants; Some Big Cities Jump Into the Fray, Enacting Parking Restrictions to Cope With Rising Tide of Gourmet Vendors." The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., August 9, 2012): B8.

(Note: ellipsis added.)



LeAmyDuckNRollTruck2012-08-13.jpg "Amy Le, owner of Duck N Roll, an Asian-style food truck in Chicago, says last fall she received a fine for doing business about 150 feet from a wine bar--50 feet within the city's limit for how close food trucks can park outside of retail food establishments." Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above.






August 13, 2012

Revolutionary Entrepreneurs Need "Unbridled Confidence and Arrogance"




(p. B1) Will there be another?

It's a bit absurd to try to identify "the next Steve Jobs." Two decades ago, Mr. Jobs himself wouldn't even have qualified. Exiled from Apple Inc., . . . Mr. Jobs was then hoping to revive his struggling computer maker, NeXT Inc. . . .

But just as Mr. Jobs followed Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, there will some day be another innovator with the vision, drive and disdain of the status quo to spark, and then direct, big changes in how we live.


. . .


"You have to try the unreasonable," says Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems Inc., who, as a longtime venture capitalist, has seen thousands of would-be revolutionaries. Two key characteristics, Mr. Khosla says: "unbridled confidence and arrogance."



For the full story, see:

SCOTT THURM and STU WOO. "Who Will Be the 'Next Steve Jobs'?" The Wall Street Journal (Sat., October 8, 2011): B1 & B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)





August 12, 2012

Vivid Examples of Government Obstacles to Entrepreneurship








EconomicFreedom.org/Stories is posting video clips of free agent entrepreneurs and the obstacles that government policies put in the path to their achievements. The videos give concrete examples and make the costs of regulations more real by connecting the costs to the faces of actual people.





August 11, 2012

"Unknown Unknowns" Will Delay Most Projects





Kahneman's frequently-used acronym "WYSIATI," used in the passage quoted below, means "What You See Is All There Is."


(p. 247) On that long-ago Friday, our curriculum expert made two judgments about the same problem and arrived at very different answers. The inside view is the one that all of us, including Seymour, spontaneously adopted to assess the future of our project. We focused on our specific circumstances and searched for evidence in our own experiences. We had a sketchy plan: we knew how many chapters we were going to write, and we had an idea of how long it had taken us to write the two that we had already done. The more cautious among us probably added a few months to their estimate as a margin of error.

Extrapolating was a mistake. We were forecasting based on the informa-(p. 248)tion in front of us--WYSIATI--but the chapters we wrote first were probably easier than others, and our commitment to the project was probably then at its peak. But the main problem was that we failed to allow for what Donald Rumsfeld famously called the "unknown unknowns:' There was no way for us to foresee, that day, the succession of events that would cause the project to drag out for so long. The divorces, the illnesses, the crises of coordination with bureaucracies that delayed the work could not be anticipated. Such events not only cause the writing of chapters to slow down, they also produce long periods during which little or no progress is made at all. The same must have been true, of course, for the other teams that Seymour knew about. The members of those teams were also unable to imagine the events that would cause them to spend seven years to finish, or ultimately fail to finish, a project that they evidently had thought was very feasible. Like us, they did not know the odds they were facing. There are many ways for any plan to fail, and although most of them are too improbable to be anticipated, the likelihood that something will go wrong in a big project is high.



Source:

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.





August 10, 2012

Shedding Light, or "The Greatest Symbol of Modern Progress"




ekirch.jpg
















Source of book image: http://www.vtmagazine.vt.edu/fall06/news.html


(p. 5) IN the wake of widespread violence during the New York City blackout of 1977, a newspaper columnist quipped that just one flick of a light switch separated civilization from primordial chaos.

Leaving the hyperbole aside, artificial illumination has arguably been the greatest symbol of modern progress. By making nighttime infinitely more inviting, street lighting -- gas lamps beginning in the early 1800s followed by electric lights toward the end of the century -- drastically expanded the boundaries of everyday life to include hours once shrouded in darkness. Today, any number of metropolitan areas in the United States and abroad, bathed in the glare of neon and mercury vapor, bill themselves as 24-hour cities, open both for business and pleasure.


. . .


. . . there was never any question that 19th-century communities welcomed lamps, which in conjunction with police forces, posed a powerful deterrent to lawlessness. Another benefit lay in the numerous pedestrians drawn by their inviting glow, whose very presence helped to discourage crime.

"As safe and agreeable to walk out in the evening as by day-light," pronounced a New Yorker in 1853.

Certainly, public anxiety over the recent removal of lamps should not be minimized. No longer are there witches and wolves to fear, but research strongly suggests, as one might expect, the critical value of street lighting as a hindrance to crime and serious accidents.


. . .


Financial costs and public safety, however, are not the only issues. Without the benefit of street lighting, towns and cities, after sunset, will be diminished as communities. Families will be more apt to "cocoon" at home, rather than visit friends or attend sporting and cultural events. And, too, our appreciation for night itself will suffer. Evenings can be best enjoyed if they remain inviting and safe, whether for neighborhood gatherings, walking Fido or gazing at the heavens -- all with less chance of losing your wallet or stumbling into a ditch.



For the full commentary, see:

A. ROGER EKIRCH. "OPINION; Return to a Darker Age." The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., January 8, 2012): 5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date January 7, 2012.)


Ekrich wrote a related book:

A. Roger Ekirch. At Day's Close: Night in Times Past. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.





August 9, 2012

In Cancer Treatment "a Breakthrough Moment"?




(p. A1) CHICAGO--Medical science efforts to harness the power of the immune system against cancer are beginning to bear fruit after decades of frustration, opening up a hopeful new front in the long battle against the disease.

In studies being presented Saturday, researchers said two experimental drugs by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. . . . significantly shrank tumors in some patients with advanced skin, lung and kidney cancers.

Especially promising was that the drugs worked against several types of cancer, researchers said of the early findings. Most of the patients whose tumors responded significantly to the treatment saw long-term results.


. . .


(p. A2) Taken together, the findings are provoking excitement among researchers and the drug industry that immunotherapy has finally arrived as a viable cancer-fighting strategy.

"Those of us in the field really see this as a breakthrough moment," said Suzanne Topalian, a researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and lead author of one of the studies. Both are being presented by Hopkins researchers at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.



For the full story, see:

RON WINSLOW. "New Cancer Drugs Use Body's Own Defenses." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., June 2, 2012): A1-A2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 1, 2012.)





August 8, 2012

The Bear Details of Belarus Communist Tyranny




BelarusTeddyBear2012-08-07ProvinceVersion.jpg "Swedish advertising agency employees Thomas Mazetti and Hannah Frey hold a stuffed bear that was parachuted into Belarus." Source of caption and image: http://www.theprovince.com/business/Teddy+bears+make+picnic+generals/7028460/story.html


(p. A4) The plane crossed stealthily into Belarussian airspace and headed for the capital, Minsk. At the appointed moment, the cargo doors opened, and an invasion force of tiny plush freedom fighters parachuted to the ground.

Belarus was under attack -- by teddy bears.

Three members of a Swedish advertising firm planned and carried out the operation last month, adorning more than 800 plush bears with signs promoting democracy and denigrating Belarus's authoritarian government.

Comedic touches aside, the security breach has become a major embarrassment for President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, who has channeled his country's meager resources into maintaining a calcified police state.



For the full story, see:

MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ. "Teddy Bears Fall From Sky, and Heads Roll in Minsk." The New York Times (August 2, 2012): A4.

(Note: the online version of the article has the date August 1, 2012.)






August 7, 2012

Intuitive Expertise Develops Best When Feedback Is Clear and Fast




(p. 241) Some regularities in the environment are easier to discover and apply than others. Think of how you developed your style of using the brakes on your car. As you were mastering the skill of taking curves, you gradually learned when to let go of the accelerator and when and how hard to use the brakes. Curves differ, and the variability you experienced while learning ensures that you are now ready to brake at the right time and strength for any curve you encounter. The conditions for learning this skill arc ideal, because you receive immediate and unambiguous feedback every time you go around a bend: the mild reward of a comfortable turn or the mild punishment of some difficulty in handling the car if you brake either too hard or not quite hard enough. The situations that face a harbor pilot maneuvering large ships are no less regular, but skill is much more difficult to acquire by sheer experience because of the long delay between actions and their noticeable outcomes. Whether professionals have a chance to develop intuitive expertise depends essentially on the quality and speed of feedback, as well as on sufficient opportunity to practice.


Source:

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.






August 6, 2012

Stewart Brand Marvels at Hippie Perfectionist Jobs' Results




BrandStewart2012-08-05.jpg











Stewart Brand. Source of photo: online version of the NYT interview quoted and cited below.






(p. 3) Stewart Brand is best known as the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, a counterculture compendium published twice a year between 1968 and 1972 and the only catalog to win the National Book Award. Its credo, "Stay hungry. Stay foolish," influenced many of the hippie generation, most notably Steve Jobs.


. . .


READING I'm devouring "Steve Jobs," by Walter Isaacson. Steve's life and interests intersected with mine a number of times, so revisiting all that in sequence is like galloping through a version of my own life, plus I get to fill in the parts of his life I wondered about. Take a hippie who is also a driven perfectionist at crafting digital tools, let him become adept at managing corporate power, and marvel at what can result. The book I'm studying line by line, and dog-earing every other page, is Steven Pinker's "Better Angels of Our Nature." It chronicles the dramatic decline of violence and cruelty in human affairs in every century. Now that we know that human behavior has been getting constantly gentler and fairer, how do we proceed best with that wind at our backs?



For the full interview, see:

KATE MURPHY, interviewer. "DOWNLOAD; Stewart Brand." The New York Times, Sunday Review (Sun., Nov. 6, 2011): 3.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the interview has the date November 5, 2011.)







August 5, 2012

In Health Care, He Who Pays the Piper, Calls the Tune




(p. A15) Under the Bloomberg plan, any cup or bottle of sugary drink larger than 16 ounces at a public venue would be verboten, beginning early next year.


. . .


Here is the ultimate justification for the Bloomberg soft-drink ban, not to mention his smoking ban, his transfat ban, and his unsuccessful efforts to enact a soda tax and prohibit buying high-calorie drinks with food stamps: The taxpayer is picking up the bill.

Call it the growing chattelization of the beneficiary class under government health-care programs. Bloombergism is a secular trend. Los Angeles has sought to ban new fast-food shops in neighborhoods disproportionately populated by Medicaid recipients, Utah to increase Medicaid copays for smokers, Arizona to impose a special tax on Medicaid recipients who smoke or are overweight.



For the full commentary, see:

HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR. "BUSINESS WORLD; The 5th Avenue to Serfdom; Nobody thought about taking away your Big Gulp until the government began to pay for everyone's health care." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., June 2, 2012): A15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date June 1, 2012.)





August 4, 2012

Veterinarians Can Suggest Innovative Hypotheses to Doctors




ZoobiquityBK2012-08-01.jpg














Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.





Vets face less government regulation and so are freer to rapidly innovate. They may thus be a promising source of innovative hypotheses for medical doctors.


(p. D2) Cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz made her first foray into the world of animal medicine when she was asked to treat Spitzbuben, an exceedingly cute emperor tamarin suffering from heart failure.

But first, the veterinarian at the Los Angeles Zoo warned Dr. Natterson-Horowitz: Mere eye contact with the tiny primate could trigger a potentially fatal surge of stress hormones. What she learns from that experience spurs a journey to examine the links between the human and animal condition--and the discovery that the species are closer than she ever imagined.


. . .


The authors recommend that doctors, who often look with disdain on veterinarians, go the next step and collaborate with them in a cross-disciplinary "zoobiquitous" approach--using knowledge about how animals live, die and heal to spark innovative hypothesis for advancing medicine.



For the full review, see:

LAURA LANDRO. "Healthy Reader." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., June 12, 2012): D2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date June 11, 2012.)


The book being reviewed, is:

Natterson-Horowitz, Barbara, and Kathryn Bowers. Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.





August 3, 2012

When Is Intuitive Judgment Valid?




(p. 240) If subjective confidence is not to be trusted, how can we evaluate the probable validity of an intuitive judgment? When do judgments reflect true expertise? When do they display an illusion of validity? The answer comes from the two basic conditions for acquiring a skill:

  • an environment that is sufficiently regular to be predictable
  • an opportunity to learn these regularities through prolonged practice


When both these conditions are satisfied, intuitions are likely to be skilled. Chess is an extreme example of a regular environment, but bridge and poker also provide robust statistical regularities that can support skill. Physicians, nurses, athletes, and firefighters also face complex but fundamentally orderly situations. The accurate intuitions that Gary Klein has described are due to highly valid cues that the expert's System 1 has learned to use, even if System 2 has not learned to name them. In contrast, stock pickers and political scientists who make long-term forecasts operate in a zero-validity environment. Their failures reflect the basic unpredictability of the events that they try to forecast.




Source:

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.






August 2, 2012

Romney Right that Culture Matters for Economic Success




WealthAndPovertyOfNationsBK2012-07-31.jpg
















Source of book image: http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1172699090l/209176.jpg




In the piece quoted below, and in much of the TV media coverage, the story is spun as being that Romney offended the Palestinians. But that is not the story. The story is that Romney courageously highlighted an important, but politically incorrect, truth---culture, generally, does matter for economic performance; and Israeli culture, specifically, has encouraged economic growth.

Romney referred to an important book by the distinguished economic historian David Landes. Last school year, one of the students in my Economics of Technology seminar gave a presentation on a related Landes book. That presentation can be viewed at: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2GLBAMFCS5PXH/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0521094186&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=

I recently read another relevant book, Start-Up Nation, that directly supports Romney's specific claim, by making the case that Israeli culture is especially congenial to entrepreneurial initiative and success.



(p. A1) JERUSALEM -- Mitt Romney offended Palestinian leaders on Monday by suggesting that cultural differences explain why the Israelis are so much more economically successful than Palestinians, thrusting himself again into a volatile issue while on his high-profile overseas trip.


. . .


In the speech, Mr. Romney mentioned books that had influenced his thinking about nations -- particularly "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," by David S. Landes, which, he said, argues that culture is the defining factor in determining the success of a society.

"Culture makes all the (p. A14) difference," Mr. Romney said. "And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things."

He added, "As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States."

The remarks, which vastly understated the disparities between the societies, drew a swift rejoinder from Palestinian leaders.



For the full story, see:

ASHLEY PARKER and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. "Romney Trip Raises Sparks at a 2nd Stop." The New York Times (Tues., July 31, 2012): A1 & A14.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 30, 2012.)


The Landes book discussed by Romney is:

Landes, David S. The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998.


The book on Israeli entrepreneurship, that I mention in my comments, is:

Senor, Dan, and Saul Singer. Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. hb ed. New York: Twelve, 2009.






August 1, 2012

Take U.S.D.A. and C.D.C. Advice with a Grain of Salt




(p. 8) When I spent the better part of a year researching the state of the salt science back in 1998 -- already a quarter century into the eat-less-salt recommendations -- journal editors and public health administrators were still remarkably candid in their assessment of how flimsy the evidence was implicating salt as the cause of hypertension.

"You can say without any shadow of a doubt," as I was told then by Drummond Rennie, an editor for The Journal of the American Medical Association, that the authorities pushing the eat-less-salt message had "made a commitment to salt education that goes way beyond the scientific facts."

While, back then, the evidence merely failed to demonstrate that salt was harmful, the evidence from studies published over the past two years actually suggests that restricting how much salt we eat can increase our likelihood of dying prematurely. Put simply, the possibility has been raised that if we were to eat as little salt as the U.S.D.A. and the C.D.C. recommend, we'd be harming rather than helping ourselves.


. . .


When researchers have looked at all the relevant trials and tried to make sense of them, they've continued to support Dr. Stamler's "inconsistent and contradictory" assessment. Last year, two such "meta-analyses" were published by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international nonprofit organization founded to conduct unbiased reviews of medical evidence. The first of the two reviews concluded that cutting back "the amount of salt eaten reduces blood pressure, but there is insufficient evidence to confirm the predicted reductions in people dying prematurely or suffering cardiovascular disease." The second concluded that "we do not know if low salt diets improve or worsen health outcomes."


. . .


(p. 9) A 1972 paper in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the less salt people ate, the higher their levels of a substance secreted by the kidneys, called renin, which set off a physiological cascade of events that seemed to end with an increased risk of heart disease. In this scenario: eat less salt, secrete more renin, get heart disease, die prematurely.

With nearly everyone focused on the supposed benefits of salt restriction, little research was done to look at the potential dangers. But four years ago, Italian researchers began publishing the results from a series of clinical trials, all of which reported that, among patients with heart failure, reducing salt consumption increased the risk of death.

Those trials have been followed by a slew of studies suggesting that reducing sodium to anything like what government policy refers to as a "safe upper limit" is likely to do more harm than good. These covered some 100,000 people in more than 30 countries and showed that salt consumption is remarkably stable among populations over time.


. . .


One could still argue that all these people should reduce their salt intake to prevent hypertension, except for the fact that four of these studies -- involving Type 1 diabetics, Type 2 diabetics, healthy Europeans and patients with chronic heart failure -- reported that the people eating salt at the lower limit of normal were more likely to have heart disease than those eating smack in the middle of the normal range. Effectively what the 1972 paper would have predicted.


. . .


Maybe now the prevailing beliefs should be changed. The British scientist and educator Thomas Huxley, known as Darwin's bulldog for his advocacy of evolution, may have put it best back in 1860. "My business," he wrote, "is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations."



For the full commentary, see:

GARY TAUBES. "OPINION; Salt, We Misjudged You." The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., June 3, 2012): 8-9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date June 2, 2012.)







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