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What I Believe (about Markets and Morals)

by Michael Shermer, Sep 07 2010

A reply to Jerry Coyne

In his endearingly titled blog, “Michael, we hardly knew ye,” the venerable evolutionary biologist and slayer of creationist dragons Jerry Coyne (author of Why Evolution is True) wonders if I’ve gone ‘round the bend over capitalism and sold my skeptical soul to the Templeton Foundation, the alleged evil subsidizers of religious and capitalist propaganda. Allow me to set the record straight (again) for all my critics out there (and in reading the comments to Jerry’s blog there’s more than I thought, and many of them are darned right caustic!). Continue reading…

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My Dinner with Bill (Gates that is)

by Michael Shermer, Feb 23 2010

left to right: Jared Cohen, Dave Morin, John Cusack, Dean Kamen, Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Michael Shermer. (All photos in this post were taken by John Brockman.)

No, it wasn’t exactly My Dinner with Andre—the classic 1981 filmed conversation between Wallace Shaun and Andre Gregory (directed by Louis Malle) that ranged across a diversity of existential topics—but listening to Bill Gates hold forth on matters of business, economics, finance, world health, education, and nutrition and physical fitness in a dinner arranged by John Brockman’s during last week’s TED gathering in Long Beach was a memorable experience nonetheless.

Richard Dawkins once said that John Brockman has the most stellar rolodex in all of science, and periodically Brockman organizes an event that brings them all together for some serious dialogue about the great issues of our time. There were around 80 people in all, which soon broke up into small groups of schmoozing and social networking. Check out the roster and accompanying photos.

When it was time to sit down for dinner there was a spot open at the Gates table (we’ll call it), that included some heavyweights such as Facebook’s Dave Morin, the Segway inventor Dean Kamen, the actor John Cusack, Jared Cohen from the U.S. State Department, Michael Tchao, VP of Apple’s new iPad division, Arianna Huffington of HuffingtonPost, Bill Gates, and your humble servant. Continue reading…

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The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

by Michael Shermer, Oct 06 2009

At the Atheist Alliance International conference this past weekend in Burbank, California, the Skeptics Society had a booth in the vendor’s section of book sellers and the like, the latter of which included a table full of bumper stickers. One struck me as a poignant proxy for what I predicted will happen at the end of my book, The Mind of the Market: the Internet as a form of trade will enable freedom to find a way. The bumper sticker reads: The Revolution Will be Tweeted. I presume the reference is to the Iranian elections, the suppression of the protests of the corruption of which were tweeted.

The Revolution will be Tweeted. Continue reading…

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Regulation Schmegulation

by Michael Shermer, Dec 09 2008

With the market meltdown of the past year those of us who are long-time supporters of the freedom of markets have by now heard the refrain: “What do you say now?” or “So much for your mighty market economics” and especially “See, deregulation doesn’t work.”

Let’s dispense with the “deregulation” myth right here. The list of new regulations called the Federal Register averaged 72,844 pages during the Carter administration, 54,335 pages during Reagan’s presidency, climbed to 59,527 pages for Bush the First, escalated during the Clinton years to 71,590 pages, and set an all-time record during Bush the Second at 75,526 pages, supposedly the era of deregulated markets run amok. So much for the Republicans as the party of government nonintervention. Continue reading…

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Gaming the Market

by Michael Shermer, Oct 28 2008

Treating Wall Street and the financial industry like professional sports brings a new perspective to the motivation of traders and financers

In the midst of our financial crisis it was inevitable that there would be references to the 1987 film Wall Street, in which Michael Douglas’s character Gordon Gekko explains what really drives market capitalism: “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.” Continue reading…

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