Zing!

Tim Lee micturates upon Nick Gillespie's semi-autobiographical work of armchair demography.

What do you think about Reason's “cultural turn.” Personally, I enjoy reading Nick's Reason better than Virginia's, although Virginia's did seem more like a serious magazine for serious people with serious thoughts, and thus I guess I found her version more intellectually edifying. But what I think may be most interesting is the fact that, oh I don't know, I guess maybe 70% of the writers are the same. So the actual substantive differences aren't that great. It's basically the same magazine with a few fewer pieces on privatizing x, a few more pieces on drugs, rock, and burning things in the desert, a reliably unfunny but fun-to-look-at cartoon, and lots more willfully obscure pop culture references. Overall, I like it. I think the formula's got maybe two years left before its played.

  • mike in new zealand

    This is an excellent critique, and goes to the heart of something I have struggled with in my role as a mental health nurse. Working with floridly unwell people requires a paternalistic approach, yet the growing call in mental healthcare is for minimising coercion. Not that paternalism has to be coercive, but in acute MH settings it often is, or at least is perceived that way. But I persist in thinking that S&T might have a point by reinventing the meaning of ‘paternalism’ as it applies to my work. I think that by using the word in this new way – so that the subject feels better off by his own estimate rather than mine – has the potential for honoring a nurse’s or doctor’s duty of care while minimising the likelihood of coercion which often ends up in aggressive confrontation in which the patient is the ultimate loser, restrained or secluded. I’ll keep mulling it over, maybe Ill be more coherent in a later comment, but in the meantime thank you for your careful criticism of this new ‘buzz’.

  • Eye

    I agree that “paternalism” isn’t the right word

  • sharoncfejes

    The tone in Nudge is chummy and agreeable and sunnily ameliorist. Which makes you feel a bit like an axe-grinding fidelity 401k killjoy bent on hair-splitting “semantics” when you insist on pointing out that they spend the entire book more or less inverting the normal meaning of certain politically-loaded words.

  • Blown away

    Will all choice architects understand their ethical responsibilities? In this day and age, this is a scary propostition, especially due to people’s inability to think for themselves.

  • LanguageSmanguage

    “But it isn’t, so they are using words wrong.” – consider revision as “using words wrongly”.
    And “ameliorist” – the word doesn’t exist in my book; try amelioratory or ameliorative…
    I think dwelling on semantic choices shouldn’t be your tack, just as my examples have absolutely no bearing on the meaning you’ve conveyed in your work.

    So what of language; if the author is establishing a meaning from the outset, then you know whenever you see X it has an applied technical implication, both consistent and clearly delineated. In fact, the whole purpose of the book is to define common sense for the consumption of the senseless. That’s almost the prerequisite of a business books best seller – jargon replacing the thought that that must be absent in the reader, making them ill suited to executing any contained ideas in the first place.

    Perhaps you are suggesting that ‘paternalism’ was an exceedingly poor choice of word to serve as their technical term for the ‘Nudge’ treatise. True dat.
    Perhaps you’re suggesting that their absolutes are lacking in defence and that moving directly to the application of an unsubstantiated and logically flawed postulation is an act without intellectual rigour. Hard to argue.
    Perhaps you’re lamenting that the text simply replaces concepts with terms, leaving the same challenge of execution as when one sets to tackle a problem in the first place.

    Example: I propose that all choices are Xs, and all agents of choice are Y, and all choosers are Z. My amazing discovery is that Y has a position of power in presenting Xs in such a way as to steer Z’s decision. So maybe Y should think about how they’re presenting choices, and manage the expectations of Zs in the process. And maybe Y should also think about creative Xs related to where Z’s heads are at.
    I call it the XYZ Nudge Theorem. Patent pending.