Monday, January 21, 2013

Signalling & Innovation

By how much can the signalling paradigm stymie new leaps? Bryan Caplan argues that simple innovations can be undone and ignored by the human need to fit in. The need to conform, indeed the positive desire to conform, and the clean emotional hit you get from conforming, can, in Caplan's words, 'lock in' the status quo.

But there is good conformity and bad, and you can conform to good or bad paradigms. In their own matrix, a gang member knocking on the head of an enemy is as conformist as an elderly aunt plodding to Church.

And once the paradigm is laid down, it is quite easy for an eloquent outsider to mould it to his end. Artur Baptista da Silva, a man who suddenly appeared on Portuguese TV as a regular economic expert, caught the conforming current, and even though a 'fraud', was able to amass some fame within the system by playing to the present message, and what was wanted.

The bad parts of conformity do need to be challenged, because quicker and easier ways to share and multiply elegant innovations are one of the main drivers of under-the-temple progress.

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