More on My Strangely Positivist Economics of Culture
March 20, 2012
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This is the short of it.
-With respect to virtually any margin we can measure objectively, quality of various forms of entertainment (one may probably generalize this further) has gotten better. For movies, this can be cinematography. For theater, special effects or stage direction. I can name dozens in baseball because it is the form of entertainment I know best.
-My priors are that if, whenever we can measure the quality of something, it’s moving in one direction, then what we cannot measure is probably also moving in that direction.
-At the absolute most, I will accept the position that we should assume that what we can’t measure has been stationary, but I think that’s a failure of Bayesian updating.
-Even if I grant the latter, the best of whatever it is we’re are talking about is probably very recent. For instance, Babe Ruth is probably not the best baseball player ever. The best baseball player is probably an active player or recently retired player.
-The argument to the contrary, that there are all these invisible soft factors which have moved in the opposite direction, BUT ONLY THE EXPERT CAN DIVINE, is counterintuitive, asserted on nothing but authority (“How dare you say Casablanca was boring!”), and bears a striking resemblance to professional organizations who circle the wagons and refuse to be objectively evaluated by the unclean. My null hypothesis *even if something passes the market test* is that expertise does not exist.
-I don’t accept the argument (really, assertion) that there are zero hard/measurable/objective factors for certain forms of entertainment. Give me a half hour with an expert in the form of entertainment who has no dog in this fight. And even if hard/measurable/objective measures are hard to find, the fact that they have gotten better in every other area of human existence is evidence that this form of entertainment is getting better.