Thanks for sharing the links! I read them all. They say a lot of economic sounding stuff, but then again, so do politicians. :)
“how does one understand economics, or economic alternatives, without (seemingly) building anything, conducting experiments and/or taking real risks in various markets?”
First you do your homework, and then you build stuff and conduct experiments. You can also first consult with somebody who has done their homework. But that would still count as doing your homework first.
Ideally, your experiments, and what you build, should help solve the biggest economic problems. Right now by far the biggest economic problem is that people don’t understand the point and purpose of the Invisible Hand (IH). Your experiments and constructions should help test and clarify the IH.
When people go to the grocery store, they use their money to signal the value of the products… cereal, meat, popsicles, fruit and so on. So the IH determines the order (relative importance) of the products.
Here on Medium we don’t use our money to signal the value of the products… economics stories, science stories, political stories and so on. Instead, we use our “votes” (recommendations) to signal whether we like a product. So the Democratic Hand (DH), rather than the IH, determines the order (relative importance) of the products.
The DH and the IH are completely different methods of determining the order (relative importance) of things. With the DH the feedback is entirely superficial (vote) but with the IH the feedback is substantial (sacrifice). Therefore, the DH and the IH can’t be equally good at ordering things. Which one is better?
How do you determine the order of things on the Exile homepage? You don’t use the DH… you definitely don’t use the IH… which leave the Visible Hand (VH). Is the VH better than the IH at ordering things?
With the VH, only a relatively small group of people get to determine the order of things. But how can the order of things possibly be correct when it only reflects the information available to a relatively small group of people?
In the grocery store, everyone who shops there spends their money in order to help determine the order of products. There’s far more substantial engagement/participation in the ordering process. Therefore, the order of products reflects the information available to all the shoppers. This is why the order of products is more trustworthy and credible. If you’re a producer, the order of products provides you with a more accurate treasure map. It decreases the chances that you’ll waste your limited time and talent barking up the wrong tree.
Figuring out whether the DH or the VH or the IH is the best way to order things is by far the most important problem to solve. It’s the problem of ordering problems.
Society has a gazillion different problems that are unequally pressing. Some problems are bigger than others. Society’s brainpower should be allocated accordingly. Therefore, the biggest problem is how to order problems. Which method will correctly order problems… the DH or the VH or the IH?
The content on the homepages of nearly every website is ordered by the VH. The content on your organization’s homepage is ordered by the VH. Why not try something else? Why not try something different? Why not allow the IH to order the content on your homepage?
When people donate to your website, they can use their donations to signal the value of your specific content. Once you know the value of your specific content, then you can put your most valuable content on your homepage.
This isn’t very technically difficult to do. You can use a Google sheet to keep track of the info and use this code to embed it in your homepage. You’d have to manually update the Google sheet each time a donor signaled the value of your specific content. But you’d simply be keeping track of people’s substantial feedback on your content. If people frequently use their donations to signal the value of your content, then you can consider using their donations to automate the system.
What happens if you want to help order the list of your content? Clearly you can’t donate to yourself! Well… you can certainly Paypal the money to me! Or you can donate money to your favorite charity.
You’re certainly interested in civic engagement. So am I! Do you appreciate that allowing the IH to order the content on your homepage would facilitate specific and substantial civic engagement? If not, then there’s a problem. Either you don’t understand what it means for the IH to order your content, or we define “civic engagement” very differently.
You’re an intelligent and thoughtful guy who is passionate about improving the world through economic experimentation. So am I! Hopefully you’re as interested in collaborating as I am.
Please let me know if you have any questions!