‘Defend speech, no matter how vile’

Link: Goodbye ACLU, Hello FIRE

The sad part for us is that, unlike in the USA, where, about the law

“When it comes to the law, the law is about as good as it’s ever been. But when it comes to the culture, our argument is that it’s gotten a lot worse and that we don’t have to accept it.”

Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s president

in Spain the law is about as bad as it’s ever been.

Against Historic Preservation

Linking from Marginal Revolution:

First, it’s often the case that buildings of little historical worth are preserved by rules and regulations that are used as a pretext to slow competitors, maintain monopoly rents, and keep neighborhoods in a kind of aesthetic stasis that benefits a small number of people at the expense of many others.

Second, a confident nation builds so that future people may look back and marvel at their ancestor’s ingenuity and aesthetic vision. A nation in decline looks to the past in a vain attempt to “preserve” what was once great. Preservation is what you do to dead butterflies.

Ironically, if today’s rules for historical preservation had been in place in the past the buildings that some now want to preserve would never have been built at all. The opportunity cost of preservation is future greatness.

Third, repealing historic preservation laws does not mean ending historic preservation. There is a very simple way that truly great buildings can be preserved–they can be bought or their preservation rights paid for.

Alex Tabarrok, Against Historic Preservation

Link of the day

Seven Varieties of Stupidity, by Ian Leslie

They are: pure stupidity, ignorant stupidity, fish-out-of-water stupidity, rule-based stupidity…

Very often, stupidity isn’t derived from an absence of mental materials but from a superfluity of them. It is the product of all the stuff we carry around in our minds and absorb from others: powerful algorithms, bad theories, fake facts, seductive stories, leaky metaphors, misplaced intuitions.

… overthinking stupidity…

You can trace a fundamental divide in Western thought between those who believe that knowledge and rationality invariably make us smarter and those who warn they can also make us dumber. On one side, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Voltaire, Paine, Russell; on the other, Socrates, Montaigne, Burke, Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein. The latter group includes thinkers who are, in their different ways, interested in the ways that human intelligence generates a unique kind of stupidity.

… emergent stupidity

In my book CONFLICTED I show how avoiding open disagreement reduces the collective intelligence of any group. The more that members of a group follow a rule like ‘agree with the consensus’ or ‘agree with the leader’ the less gets contributed to the general pool of ideas and arguments. The shallower the pool, the more likely it is that something stupid will crawl out from it.

… and ego-driven stupidity

The truth is that stupidity is often an act of will: people make themselves stupid, when it suits them.

Go read the whole thing.

Misinformation About Misinformation – by Bryan Caplan

Yes, there are plenty of other reasonable complaints about the war on “misinformation.” There’s massive hypocrisy: People who attack “misinformation” often peddle it themselves. There’s thinly-veiled authoritarianism: People should only be free to express approved views. There’s the Kafkaesque pettiness of bots labelling a post “misinformation” for soliciting doubts about a controversial article. The list goes on and on.

Still, the fundamental problem with the war on misinformation is that it scapegoats misinformation for the sins of irrationality. If human being were rational, misinformation would be basically harmless. Thomas Jefferson famously said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Similarly, I say, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have irrationality without misinformation or rationality with misinformation, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Misinformation About Misinformation – by Bryan Caplan

Or add another dilemma: tyranny without misinformation vs liberty with it.

Links of the day

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster,” Friedrich Nietzsche famously warned. The German philosopher might have offered the same caution about tangling with thuggish regimes, given how quickly they rub off on their opponents. Just months after Russia attacked its neighbor, the efforts of the United States and other western nations to assist Ukraine’s defense are themselves trending authoritarian, including dictates to the private sector and intolerance of dissenting views.

But not because the law was applied accurately. The problem is the law is utterly rotten, constructed of a slew of immunity doctrines that give special protections to the government by the government, all while prohibiting victims—whether of a prosecutor, a police officer, a prison guard, a judge, a legislator, a public educator—from achieving any sort of recourse.

One of the great ironies of American political life in the 2020s is that the people most exercised about the spread of false information are frequently peddlers of it. Their lack of self-understanding arises from the belief that the primary factor separating their side from the other side isn’t ideology, principle or moral vision but information—raw data requiring no interpretation and no argument over its importance. It is a hopelessly simpleminded worldview—no one apprehends reality without the aid of interpretive lenses. And it is a dangerous one.