giovedì 25 febbraio 2016

Human Accomplishment by Charles Murray - IS ACCOMPLISHMENT DECLINING?

IS ACCOMPLISHMENT DECLINING?Read more at location 9218
One perspective focuses on the count of significant figures, presented at the outset of Chapter 11.Read more at location 9220
Though the results vary among the inventories, the overall story is one of recent decline, usually starting sometime in 19C.Read more at location 9223
When the ratio of significant figures to the total population goes down in literature, to continue with that example, one of two changes (or possibly both in tandem) must have occurred: the proportion of the total population involved with good literature as producers, critics, and audience, has gone down, or the proportion of people who write lasting work has gone down.Read more at location 9257
The explanations for a falling accomplishment rate can be benign. The first half of 20C offers an obvious possibility for the case of literature: among all the new talents who might have been engaged in novels and plays, a large portion became engaged in film and, later, television.Read more at location 9262
To summarize the rest of the chapter: My explanation for the recent decline in the scientific inventories is that it has been largely benign, while my explanation for the decline in the rates for the arts inventories is more pessimistic.Read more at location 9267
Two well documented phenomena make it so: (1) more recent events and people get attention just because they are recent, and (2) the de facto population available for great accomplishment in the arts and sciences has been increasing more than the raw population that I have been using as the denominator.Read more at location 9283
Those two centuries saw more progress in the well-being of mankind,Read more at location 9358
If the scientific inventories were designed to measure the impact of events on daily life, the rate of accomplishment unquestionably would have gone through the roof. But that’s not what the inventories purport to measure. Rather, they are designed to capture significant advances in knowledge.Read more at location 9360
The impact of an invention such as the internal combustion engine was so far-reaching that it is hard to imagine a metric that could express it. But as an increment in human understanding of how the world works, it was similar to many other contemporaneous developments.Read more at location 9362
Potential Artifacts That Don’t Seem to ApplyRead more at location 9365
The supply of human capital devoted to science and technology could not keep up with population.Read more at location 9366
The market for science and technology becomes saturated after a certain point, and the West passed that point in mid 19C.Read more at location 9370
The use of significant figures as the measure systematically underestimates scientific accomplishment in 19C and 20C.Read more at location 9379
Scientific and technological discoveries after the mid 1800s were more complex than in earlier days, and therefore the increments in knowledge they represent could be undercounted.Read more at location 9397
Consider, for example, the radio—an invention of incalculable importance, but one that depended on many scientific and technological advances. If the inventory of events had invention of the radio as just one entry, it would be vulnerable to charges that it undercounts complex technological accomplishments.Read more at location 9399
The Case That the Rate of Accomplishment in the Sciences Really Did DeclineRead more at location 9421
In 1969, Gunther Stent, a molecular biologist at the University of California’s Berkeley campus, published The Coming of the Golden Age: A View of the End of Progress.17Read more at location 9423
Stent acknowledged that his readers would resist the idea, but he asked them to consider the proposition in its component parts. No one would argue that anatomy or geography were subjects without limits, for example.Read more at location 9427
Everything there is to know about chemical reactions, for example, can be known. Once known, that field will be as closedRead more at location 9430
Stent’s argument, widely derided at the time, has been taken more seriously by his colleagues in recent years, as described in John Horgan’s The End of Science (1997).19Read more at location 9437
Physicist Richard Feynman had a strong sense of how lucky he was to have come along when he did. “It is like the discovery of America—you only discover it once,”Read more at location 9450
THE NATURE OF DECLINE IN THE ARTSRead more at location 9456
Potential Artifacts That Don’t Seem to ApplyRead more at location 9461
The supply of human capital devoted to the arts could not keep up with population.Read more at location 9462
The market for great art becomes saturated after a certain point, and increases in the number of artists can no longer be expected to produce a larger number of important artists.Read more at location 9480
In 1995, economists Robert Frank and Philip Cook published a book called The Winner-Take-All Society explaining the answer.Read more at location 9489
Mental Shelf Space and Habit Formation. As my use of the Sue Grafton example suggests, winner-take-all markets can apply to producers of art as well as to performers. We have a limited amount of time to read, listen to music, and watch drama