RE: Papers vs. Email & Books

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 15 Jan 1999 12:11:43 -0800

Billy Brown wrote:
>> The related thing that most strikes me is the unfortunate
>> lack of paper-length contributions on the topics which
>> frequently appear on this list. ... If you only
>> ever see short contributions on a topic, you might
>> reasonably infer that ... the topic doesn't withstand
>> careful scrutiny; those people who tried to write
>> longer analyses realized it's all bunk and gave up.
>Part of the problem is the nature of the topics we discuss. Honestly, how
>many of us are qualified to write a rigorous analysis of a topic that spans
>half a dozen disciplines? A detailed justification of any particular
>Singularity scenario, for example, requires an understanding of every field
>of technology you want to take into account, plus a bit of political
>science, history and economics.

I think this is setting too high a standard. If you are qualified to write informative posts on a topic, you are qualified to write an informative paper on the topic. You need just consider the same issues you would in a post, but more carefully and thoughtfully. The goal is relative, not absolute: to improve our understanding of the topic.

Robin Hanson   
RWJF Health Policy Scholar             FAX: 510-643-8614 
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 510-643-1884