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The Expanding Shoreline of Ignorance

Summary:
I love this analogy! First, I think it is true. For example, the more one knows about economics, the more potential research projects one can see. Second, it is an optimistic take on one’s growing sense of ignorance: if the island is close to circular, knowledge is growing with the square of the diameter of the island, while the boundary with ignorance is only growing in direct proportion to the diameter of the island. Third, it points up how titles such as The End of Science (by John Horgan) betray a lack of an extensive enough knowledge of science to clearly see the length of the shoreline of ignorance.

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The Expanding Shoreline of Ignorance

I love this analogy! First, I think it is true. For example, the more one knows about economics, the more potential research projects one can see. Second, it is an optimistic take on one’s growing sense of ignorance: if the island is close to circular, knowledge is growing with the square of the diameter of the island, while the boundary with ignorance is only growing in direct proportion to the diameter of the island. Third, it points up how titles such as The End of Science (by John Horgan) betray a lack of an extensive enough knowledge of science to clearly see the length of the shoreline of ignorance.

Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

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