Levitt guy moved his blog to NYtimes (obviosuly you know why – more traffic, more google ads, more visibility, more moolah etc.) I tried to read his blog a couple of times, but it really did not interest me. Now, this guy has come up with how terrorism could be executed simply.
Atanu is not happy about this. He makes some very fine points:
The fact is that one does not have to be stupid to not have considered every conceivable idea. Ideas are informational goods. I can on my own come up with only some ideas. And if we all pool our ideas, we each can have a lot of ideas most of which we did not originate. It is the collective idea-generating power of human society that makes us so powerful, either to create wealth or to wreak havoc. To the collective, no idea is unknown. But to an individual, most of the ideas are unknown. That is a very powerful distinction that we ignore at our own peril.
Yet another astute observation, that Levitt fails to make:
One mistake that Levitt makes is his implicit assumption that the entire population of readers can be exhaustively partitioned into two groups: normal people and terrorists. But why not into, say, three groups: normal people, terrorists, and psychopaths. The last group could use “good” ideas as well.
Another astute observation, Levitt fails to make:
Levitt point is that by tapping into the wisdom (as it were) of the crowds regarding terror tactics, it would help those in the business of fighting terror in preventing terrorism. Plausible argument but I think it is flawed because the truth is that broadly speaking terrorism cannot be prevented. One determined to do so can wreak havoc at very little costs. That is, it is relatively cheap to inflict harm but to prevent which would be prohibitively expensive. Most of the ideas expressed in the comments to that article are quite do-able but nearly impossible to guard against.
Next time an attack happens, Levitt will hold himself responsible for it. Einstien is right when he said “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”