Books, Uncategorized

Libertarian family values?


Those interested in the institution of the family and LGBT rights should read this excellent book by Steve Horwitz called “Hayek’s Modern Family”. Horwitz shows that the institution of the family is a product of cultural evolution. With this basic insight, he shows that BOTH conservatives as well as liberals miss something in their analysis.

Conservatives see the “traditional family” as under attack by liberal norms, but don’t realise that this model of the family isn’t as traditional as they suggest. The family and institution of marriage has changed over time, and this means that they are simply romanticising one slice of time.

Liberals on the other hand, don’t realise that the diversity of family forms that they embrace, actually are a result of changing economic conditions that preceded them. It was actually capitalism and the wealth that “freed the family from a concern with material survival and have opened the space for it as the site of our deepest nonmaterial aspirations.”

Read more on this at Reason Magazine here


Reaching the peak – Reviewing Anders Ericsson’s “Peak”

Just finished an amazing book that I would like to share with everyone here. This is written by K Anders Ericsson, perhaps the foremost expert on the science of expertise. Basically, Ericsson is answering a question that most of us have had before: what is it that separates expert performers, those who are at the forefront of their fields, from the rest? It’s not the first engagement I’ve had on this topic, but the depth of his research on this brings my understanding to a whole new level.

With extensive scientific research, his findings suggest that individuals reach the peak of achievement not due to the magic of innate talent, but a long process of hard work, and quality practice. This is not simply blindly doing something over and over, and not merely reaching 10,000 hours. Quality practice follows what he calls “deliberate practice”, the gold standard of practice, which is focused, purposeful, with a clear plan of action. It also requires constant feedback under the tutelage of an effective coach and role model. The key ingredient is mental representations: the ability to perform a task excellently without needing deliberate thought because similar situations have been so well practiced that they seem second nature.

Ericsson looks into experts from all fields, from top athletes of various types, chess grandmasters like the three famous “Polgár sisters”, music prodigies like Mozart, writers, mathematicians, and shows that these “expert performers develop their extraordinary abilities through years and years of dedicated practice, improving step by step in a long, laborious process.” Natural talent may help at the outset, but confer no advantage in the long run or at higher levels.  Continue reading