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[scroll down to end for re-connection to original RELAX NG story]
Stefano Debenedetti wrote:
> John Cowan wrote:
> > Matthew Gertner scripsit:
> >>(http://www.economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?story_id=1045223 --
> >>a good reactionary I read reactionary rags) that points out that purely
> >>selfish behavior based on this principle can lead to altruistic behavior
> >>the macro level. Good news for everyone, I say.
> > Yes, indeed, and very interesting.
> This article *is* reactionary, I find it outdated to talk about
> "scientific confirmation of a human commonplace".
This article indeed smells of nasty ideas that I wish were outdated. I had
the curiosity to check the two sources cited as reference by the Economist:
- the article at http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/415137a, published
by Nature (alarm bells ringing) is written by two economists (more alarm
bells). Only the abstract is available to non-members, but have a look at
this brief to get an idea of where this is going:
- the article at
http://www.santafe.edu/sfi/publications/Abstracts/01-01-007abs.html has 6
named authors (including Fehr, co-author of Nature article) and also
involved 11 anthropologists and 1 economist. I just read the introduction
and conclusion, and it seems to be a lot more interesting, although we'd
have to review the validity of the methodology to find out if the
conclusions can be trusted. But at least it goes against the orthodoxy of
Homo Economicus canonical model. I assumed the Santa Fe Institute was mostly
a conservative think-tank, but that particular study was funded by the
MacArthur Foundation (http://www.macfound.org) - didn't know them. Alarm
bell, the founder worked in bank & insurance :-)
However, I fail to see any obvious connection to biology in either article,
so how can The Economist use biological research as as legitimation tool for
the ideology reflected by their article ? I hope the journalist is not
confusing biology and anthropology but...
> But of course the funniest thing is the solution proposed:
> "it might be useful to provide opportunities for the public-spirited to
> punish the free-riders in society."
And Bush Jr is public-spirited, isn't he ? I mean, he is a great defender of
the oil "community", right ? Some let's expect that some day "terrorists"
(formerly "communists") will be renamed "free-riders" as a justification for
> I was suggesting to do this for the W3C but looking at it now from a
> more general perspective, that's the only one good thing about this
> article, I really changed my mind: you can't punish whom is more
> powerful than you. Think about Kyoto protocol for example, the most
> powerful player just decided that environmental issues are less
> important than its internal situation and nobody is ever going to
> succeed at changing its mind from outside.
If we expect our coward European leaders to make Uncle Sam change what he
really wants (hint: hidden Chomsky reference), we are doomed.
But, taking - hopefully - more modest goals, we can punish the W3C by making
them put their "Recommendation" stamp on RELAX NG :-)