Fui colecionando estas referências ao longo de já algum tempo. Algumas era para comentar, mas o tempo foi passando ... . Em todo o caso, penso eu, são todas, por este ou aquele motivo, interessantes e merecedoras de leitura completa, reflectindo sempre algumas das minhas linhas de preocupação:
Interesting to think about this in the context of markets as aggregators of information:
Sharing Information Corrupts Wisdom of Crowds, by Brandon Keim, Wired: ...In a new study of crowd wisdom — the statistical phenomenon by which individual biases cancel each other out, distilling hundreds or thousands of individual guesses into uncannily accurate average answers — researchers told test participants about their peers’ guesses. As a result, their group insight went awry.
“Although groups are initially ‘wise,’ knowledge about estimates of others ... undermines” collective wisdom, wrote researchers led by mathematician Jan Lorenz and sociologist Heiko Rahut of Switzerland’s ETH Zurich... “Even mild social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect.”
The researchers attributed this to three effects. The first they called “social influence”: Opinions became less diverse. The second effect was “range reduction”: In mathematical terms, correct answers became clustered at the group’s edges. Exacerbating it all was the “confidence effect,” in which students became more certain about their guesses. ...
Lorenz and Rahut ... think this problem could be intensified in markets and politics — systems that rely on collective assessment. “Opinion polls and the mass media largely promote information feedback and therefore trigger convergence of how we judge the facts,” they wrote. The wisdom of crowds is valuable, but used improperly it “creates overconfidence in possibly false beliefs.” In the experiment, people are giving honest answers, and they aren't actively trying to move collective opinion one way or another. In the political realm, that's not the case, and the deterioration of collective wisdom could be even worse.
Over the past 50 years, we’ve seen a number of gigantic policies produce disappointing results — policies to reduce poverty, homelessness, dropout rates, single-parenting and drug addiction. Many of these policies failed because they were based on an overly simplistic view of human nature. They assumed that people responded in straightforward ways to incentives. Often, they assumed that money could cure behavior problems.Fortunately, today we are in the middle of a golden age of behavioral research. Thousands of researchers are studying the way actual behavior differs from the way we assume people behave. They are coming up with more accurate theories of who we are, and scores of real-world applications. Here’s one simple example: [....].
[....] Peço desculpa, mas o problema que Nobre coloca ao PSD não é propriamente esse. O que está em causa é algo de mais estrutural e que tem a ver com a relação dos partidos com os independentes – que, aliás, são cooptados exactamente para darem uma imagem de pluralismo face à linha oficial dos partidos.O problema não são as contradições de Nobre ou as posições divergentes face ao PSD, o que é lamentável é que os partidos pesquem independentes à linha, interiorizando as críticas que lhes são feitas, enquanto, ao fazerem-no, aproveitam para não enfrentarem nenhum dos problemas estruturais que levam a que, cada vez menos, as pessoas reconheçam os partidos como seus representantes legítimos.O problema dos partidos portugueses nunca passou pela capacidade de alargamento, recrutando para as suas listas o independente A ou B, que ganhou notoriedade por uma qualquer razão. Pelo contrário, não só todos os partidos o fazem, como não me parece que tenham dificuldade em encontrar protagonistas disponíveis para representar o papel. Uma ténue réstia de esperança na regeneração da vida partidária depende de outros factores: por um lado, saber se os partidos são ou não capazes de representar e acomodar interesses orgânicos, em lugar de procurar compensar o seu fechamento através de lógicas fulanizadas de envolvimento de independentes; por outro, se conseguem abandonar a volatilidade programática e a definição de políticas feita ad hoc, substituindo-as por processos estáveis, participados e que não violentem a sua relação com os eleitores.
[....] But I’d also like to register a philosophical protest. There’s an old joke to the effect that you’re an ideologue; I’m just being sensible. The point is that everyone has an ideology — which is another way of saying that everyone has (a) values and (b) some view about how the world works. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Let me illustrate the point: suppose I were to propose reducing the national debt by offering private businesses the right to buy contracts on the couple of million prisoners in our jails, who would then become indentured workers — in many cases for life. Oh, and let’s add indentured servitude as a replacement for personal bankruptcy. What’s that? You say that reintroducing what amounts to slavery is unacceptable? Well, that’s just your ideology — and a significant number of Americans probably don’t share that ideology.
So yes, I’m an ideologue. I believe in a more or less Rawlsian vision of society — treat others as if you could have been them — which implies a strong social safety net. I also believe that a mostly market economy, with public ownership and provision of services only in some limited areas, works best. Others will disagree with my values, my sense of how the world works, or both. Let’s not pretend that we share more than we do.
Aliterative Noahpinion: Raghuram Rajan's Wrongness Rankles - Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality with a Prehensile Tail
Noahpinion: Raghuram Rajan's wrongness rankles: Since future generations cannot vote, democratic governments have an incentive to overweight the present. But Rajan's statement is also misleading, because it implies that non-democratic governments do better. The evidence says that they do not....
Rajan seems to believe the common fallacy that autocratic governments answer to no one, and thus have a free hand to make far-sighted investments, as long as the despot happens to be an enlightened one.... [But] there is always a selectorate, and they always have to get paid off. And in an autocracy, those payments can get really expensive, since the selectorate has the autocrat over a barrel - if he loses his job, he doesn't go off to fish at his ranch, he gets filled with lead and hung from a gas station roof.
This is why democracy, as Churchill said, remains the best of a menu of imperfect options.
I'm also a bit annoyed at what Rajan imagines an enlightened despot might do for America.... I wish our government spent more on infrastructure, research, and education (far-sighted stuff), and less on short-sighted tax cuts. But somehow I doubt that this is what Rajan is talking about. He seems to be supporting a kind of Austrian model of the business cycle, where recessions are a necessary, even refreshing, structural adjustment. That would put him in what DeLong and Krugman call the "pain caucus."... [But] structural adjustment happens more quickly and easily when there are not legions of discouraged workers sitting at home for years letting their skills deteriorate...
É certamente verdade que o principal problema da democracia portuguesa é o sistema partidário. Ou, melhor dizendo, o funcionamento interno dos partidos políticos, especialmente grave no caso do PS e pior ainda no do PSD.Na sua definição mais clássica, os partidos são grupos de cidadãos que se unem para alcançar o poder e mantê-lo. Mas, numa democracia consolidada, devem fazê-lo em torno de ideologias, plataformas sociais e programas razoavelmente bem definidos e com continuidade no tempo. Infelizmente, não é isso que acontece entre nós.Veja-se o que se passa agora no PSD e já aconteceu vezes sem conta no passado. Quando as eleições se aproximam, o líder decide que é necessário pensar nas linhas gerais daquilo que irá constituir, eventualmente, o programa eleitoral do partido... Há muitos meses que se devia conhecer, como é óbvio, não só o essencial mas também os pormenores da alternativa política que o PSD tem a oferecer, mesmo que as eleições não estivessem à vista.De um partido que quer ser poder exige-se pensamento estruturado, coerência das propostas, bons intérpretes para essas mesmas propostas. Porém, nada disso acontece. Quando o tempo aperta, improvisa-se qualquer coisa, provavelmente sem consistência nem realismo. O PS não é muito melhor. A avaliar pela prática recente, a definição programática e as linhas com as quais o partido se apresenta aos eleitores são decididas da seguinte forma: pouco tempo antes das eleições, simula-se um debate interno, com o nome de Novas Fronteiras ou qualquer outro, no qual apenas se ouvem discursos previamente encomendados pelo líder e sem qualquer contraditório. Depois, o dr. António Vitorino - podia ser qualquer outro - é chamado a fazer o necessário ‘copy-paste' dos programas anteriores, acrescentando-lhes algumas novidades, e aí está o programa do PS a ser sufragado pelos portugueses.Talvez não se possa esperar muito melhor do que isto como base de trabalho para a campanha eleitoral agora em preparação. Mas deve-se exigir muito mais. Na situação aflitiva em que o país se encontra, os partidos políticos, especialmente o PSD e o PS, têm a obrigação de apresentar documentos estruturados e com substância em dois níveis diferentes. Em primeiro lugar, no combate imediato à crise da dívida. Não podemos tolerar afirmações genéricas. Devemos exigir medidas claras, detalhadas e rigorosas. Em segundo lugar, os programas devem ser também substantivos nas políticas sectoriais da economia, justiça, saúde, educação, etc. - é necessário que os partidos apresentem a sua visão do futuro, mas com realismo.Em suma: os partidos estão habituados e presentear os eleitores com programas de palavreado e indefinição. Desta vez, não pode ser [E não foi, já que nos fizeram o (famigerado) Memorando]
"“More than any other development it is the increased influence of the news media that has delegitimated the State, largely through its ability to disrupt the history of the State, that process of self-portrayal that unites strategy and law and forms the basis of its legitimacy. This is perhaps most egregiously evident in phenomena like the digitalized re-creation of President Kennedy’s assassination in a movie ‘showing’ a government plot to kill the president, but it is also evident in the nightly news broadcasts, where confident and placid presenters portray the political events of the day as repetitive, formulaic entertainments. Journalist themselves soon become the important characters in the historical narrative portrayed by journalism; politicians and officials merely provide the props. [Por tanto, lo que el epidemiologo o el demografo adscirito a una agencia o entidad gubernamental o publica tenga que decir, no es tan importante como lo que la reportera o el reportero o el editorialista tenga que decir, por más descabellado que sea.] The story of government becomes the story of personalities in conflict with the media itself, and the story of official evasion and incompetence unmasked by the investigative entrepeneurs of the news business.The press and electronic media, far more than the drab press releases of any government, are the engines of mass propaganda today,and it should be borne in mind that the press, when it is not controlled by the State, is driven by the need to deliver consumers to advertisers, and whether State-owned or not, is animated by the conditions of competion among all the news media. Whatever the individual aspirations of its reporters and editors, the ideology of media journalism is the ideology of consumerism, presentism, competition, hyperbole (characteristics evoked in its readers and watchers)–as well as skepticism, envy, and contempt (the reactions it rains on government officials). No State that bases its legitimacy on claims of continuity with tradition, that requires citizen self-sacrifice, that depends on a consensus of respect, can prosper for very long in such an environment. It must either change so as to become less vulnerable to such assualts, or resort to repression. Some nation-states do the latter; the liberal democracies, whose claims to ensure civil liberties are as much a part of their reson for being as any other functions, cannot do this. At best they can manipulate information and resort to deception, thus poisoning the history on which they themselves ultimately depend. This is the province of the ‘spin doctor’ whose role in governmment has become correspondingly more important.”
There is a fundamental component of liberal optimism that holds that the institutions of a market-based democracy accomplish both goals. The economic institutions of the market create efficient allocations of resources across activities, permitting the highest level of average wellbeing. Free public education permits all persons to develop their talents. And the political institutions of electoral democracy permit all groups to express and defend their interests in the arena of government and law.But social critics cast doubt on all parts of this story, based on the role played by social inequalities within each of these sets of institutions. The market embodies and reproduces a set of economic inequalities that result in grave inequalities of wellbeing for different groups. Economic and social inequalities influence the quality of education available to young people. And electoral democracy permits the grossly disproportionate influence of wealth holders relative to other groups in society. So instead of reducing inequalities among citizens, these basic institutions seem to amplify them.On this line of thought, market and electoral institutions both create and reproduce social inequalities even when they are working correctly; inequality is built into them at a very basic level. The institutions are tilted in favor of privileged groups, and it is no surprise when corporations wield substantial influence in Washington and Paris and tax policies are enacted that favor the richest percent of American income earners. These aren't abnormal anomalies; they are instead precisely what we should expect when we analyze the basic institutions carefully.
"So consider that among self-identified Republicans, getting more education makes you less informed about global warming. But that’s not because Republicans with BAs are ignorant compared to Republicans without them. On the contrary. Republicans with BAs are better informed about what the Republican view is and therefore worse informed about the underlying issue because the Republican position is mistaken.You can see the significance of elite signaling quite clearly in the international data [....].
"Over the long-term, the country and the world will be a lot better off if we can improve people’s understanding of the business cycle. And improvement on the margin counts. It’s not that everyone needs to be expert in this subject, but people all up and down the spectrum of “need-to-know”-ness (politicians, staffers, journalists, voters) could be better informed than they are.
The aim of this paper is to discuss and to some extent explain the emergence of foresight activities in Swedish government authorities. Here foresight activities include environmental scanning and analysis, futures studies and other activities trying to detect and analyse change in the surroundings of the organisation. These forward-looking activities are often named omvärldsanalys in Swedish, which might be translated as “surroundings analysis”. However, it is not obvious that we should use the term “foresight activities”. Today, foresight often is understood as specific methods used in technological foresight, for example expert panels. I give the term “foresight activities” a broader meaning and use it to refer to different methods like SWOT-analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), trend analysis and scenario construction along with above-mentioned approaches. Government authorities monitor their environment, analyse it and try to look forward to, at best, be able to make rational decisions based on robust knowledge. Strategic foresight thus refers to the development of decisionmaking in the context of national and international environment, in order to identify, formulate and support long-term policies and plans (Furustig & Sjöstedt 2000, 18). There is a broad consensus in the literature that a foresight activity is about improving the knowledge base in decision-making. It is also considered as a basis for strategic considerations, budgets, results and resource analysis (Sjölund 1994).....Nowadays, a commonly accepted message suggests that every organisation needs foresight activities to be able to make rational decisions, and ultimately survive.:::::Statistical production in the EU is also a driving factor for change through a “spill over” effect in which member states compare themselves with each other......Foresight activities could be understood as future oriented analysis, usually with a relatively short time horizon, focusing on the factors of uncertainty in an organisation’s environment. To understand the increased importance of foresight activities among Swedish government authorities, we must regard the phenomenon as a part of the larger societal changes that include concepts such as information society, insecurity, individualisation and competition......Uncertainty is a concept that is often connected with foresight activities.