One in a million, or ten

In a slightly unfortunate juxtaposition, LinkedIn sent me a breathless message “John congratulations! You have one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012!”

immediately followed by the news that “linkedIn now has more than 200 million members”. Do the math

16 thoughts on “One in a million, or ten

  1. I just got an electronic certificate from them because I was one of the first 500,000 members (or something). whoopee.

  2. And I got one that said: “Tapen, congratulations! You were one of our first 500,000 members to register in Mexico!!” with TOW exclamations – no less.


  3. I wish you could tell me how to get out of Linked In – I’ve told them I want to be removed but they seem impervious to this request.

  4. I wish someone could tell me how to remove all vestiges of Ask from my PC. And all vestiges of Bing.

  5. Here’s an off-the-wall opinion. A bit off topic but related to the profile of economists.

    Proposition: If a genuine economic genius arose now, he/she would not be recognised at least not until 20 to 50 years after his/her magnum opus.

    1. What would a new economic genius need to do? He or she would need to survey all economics to date and integrate/refute (where possible and as appropriate) political economy, the technical economics of all schools and thermoeconomics. (IMO)

    2. The combination and volume of prejudice, propaganda and “noise” extant in the current era would mean that this genius would be ignored or pilloried for his/her whole lifetime.

    To head off the smart alecks, I do not claim to be this genius labouring in the wilderness. My main point is that we collectively (the modern or post-modern? human race) wouldn’t recognise good answers or definitive answers in this arena even if they were developed for us now. As I said, the levels of propaganda, ignorance, vested interest and general “noise” of a 100 contending schools mean that we wouldn’t recognise the answers now even if they bit us on the backside.

  6. @Ikonoclast Geniuses are in shorter supply because of the rising burden of knowledge. Polymaths are even rarer.

    With knowledge ever accumulating, and a greater complexity of new innovations as technology advances, each new generation of innovators face an increasing educational burden.

    Ben Jones showed that innovators compensated by investing more time in education and on-the-job learning, narrowing fields of expertise and there is much more teamwork and joint authoring. Innovators are spending larger portions of their younger years in education acquiring intellectual capital as a preliminary to further innovations

    Ben Jones showed that that the average age at which Nobel Prize winning scientists produced their great innovations increased by six years over the 20th century. there was no compensating mid-career increase in productivity for the later start.

    This drop in creative productivity is particularly acute if the raw ability and creative outputs of innovators are greatest when they are young. It is now taking longer for scientists to finish their basic training and start their careers proper.

    Nobel Prizes are now awarded for different types of work than 100 years ago.

    There has been a century long trend away from awarding Nobel prizes for abstract, theoretical ideas. More honours are bestowed for discoveries made through painstaking laboratory work and experimentation, which takes a lot more time to do.

  7. @Jim Rose

    Which kind of raises a further issue. Are we approaching a “leveling-off” limit in human intellectual achievement? The amount of time needed by any and all individuals to learn existing knowledge and then go on to break new ground is now getting too long relative to the mature intellectual lifespan of a human. Team work can partially overcome this, as can mainframe number crunching power in some sciences. But are we never-the-less reaching the limits to human intellectual achivement? I kind of suspect we are. Put it this way, I dont feel our current age is really getting any smarter. En masse we are doing way too many stupid things to allow that judgement.

  8. Actually John Hulls, this is a favourite of mine and I think the quote is “Any club that would have me as a member, I wouldn’t want to join.”

  9. @Ikonoclast The scale effect in endogenous growth theory is about how the population must keep growing so that the R&D labour force keeps growing in size to fight against the ever increasing complexity of further innovation. The problem is not the carrying capacity of the earth, but instead the limits of the human mind.

    Productivity growth has not accelerated over the 20th century despite a massive rise in investments in human capital and research because of the rising costs of acquiring knowledge. There are ten times as many R&D workers since the 1950s and four or five times as many graduates but the trend growth rate did not budge at all.

    R&D efforts are spread over a wider variety of products and production processes than before. As a consequence of product proliferation, there has been an increase in R&D effort and number of researchers without an increase in the annual rate of productivity growth.

    Better educated R&D workers are less effective because they are spread more thinly.

    Each expansion in the variety of products and each technological improvement on the quality of an existing product are harder to bring about than their predecessors. There is a debate is over whether the fishing-out effect is worse that the standing of the shoulders of giants effect.

    The second generation of endogenous growth theory got much of its impetuous from the first generation endogenous growth theory troubles with the scale effect.

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