Re: poly: Modeling Economic Singularities

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Thu Apr 30 1998 - 14:12:45 PDT

Perry M. writes:
>Robin Hanson writes:
>> jump in 10 years. Since there are other intelligent people who also find
>> this claim incredible, I want to seem some careful analysis in support
>That reminds me. Still haven't seen youre empirical evidence for the
>predictive power of your economic model...

I asked only for any sort of careful analysis. I did not take someone's
analysis and demand a full accounting of all relevant empirical data,
explained sufficiently to convince a strongly skeptical non-specialist of
every detail.

Perry, since you persist, imagine that you claimed to someone that there's
a pretty good chance that a nuclear spaceship like Orion would have worked,
sending large crews of people to Mars and Venus by 1968 at only a fraction
of the cost of the Apollo program. You point them to the program's
engineering design analyses. They respond that they are not at all
satisfied, and want to see the original data justifying all the equations
used in the anaysis, including equations describing momentum conservation,
nuclear blast wave pressure, bomb blast mass relations, blast ablasion of
plates, cosmic ray shielding, vibration/stress analysis, the actual
distances to Mars and Venus, and the density of the interplanetary medium.
Oh and you must carefully explain all terminology unfamiliar to english
lit majors, and to the satisfaction of english lit majors who are pretty
sure the physical world is just too complex to be usefully approximated by
simple mathematics.

If you were the program manager for an Orion project and the requestor was
a senator, you might comply. But most people responding to most other
people would give up on trying to present such a detailed response to such
an unfocused question.

Perry, I have responded to specific questions by yourself and others, and
will continue to respond to focused questions. But I choose not to respond
to your unfocused request to explain in detail and at the level of a very
skeptical non-professional all the empirical bases economists have for
making use of all the standard economic concepts I may invoke in some
economics paper.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Thu Apr 30 21:28:03 1998

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