Ritholtz, Spain’s Investment Grade Status, here. Great chart plotting sovereign credit rating against 5Y CDS spread. Credit Ratings appear destined to be the gift that just keeps on giving, witness the commenter who advises Ritholtz to check the Mark It CDS spreads cause they might be off.
The Chronicle Review, Shift Happens, here.
If you’ve seen that bumper sticker, you’ve seen what our culture has made of one of the central ideas in Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, published 50 years and 1.4 million copies ago. For the marketers and boosters of personal transformation who casually talk about paradigm shifts, the phrase designates not just a gestalt switch that casts things in a new light, but a world so insubstantial that it can be thoroughly transformed by a single idea. Tomorrow there may be another paradigm shift, and another after that. There is thus no real progress, just a new bubble as good as the old bubble.
This is of course not what Kuhn intended us to learn. Kuhn wanted to free us from the illusion that knowledge is independent of history and of the sociality that marks us as humans, but he did not think that all beliefs that our history and sociality put before us are equally worthy. Indeed, he quickly moved away from the “shift happens” conception of paradigms as bundles of beliefs, emphasizing instead that they’re examples of good scientific practice that researchers apply in their daily work.
But Kuhn is not blameless for how we appropriated his thought. SSR shook up our culture in part because he wrote it in such bold strokes. More important, he struggled to find a way—not always consistently—to shove SSR from a shoal we still have not found a way around: Our old paradigm of truth is no longer up to the task, but we don’t yet have a new one to replace it.
Errol Morris has a series I remember liking which starts with Kuhn throwing an ash tray at his head. Oh it’s in the NY Times here.
It was April, 1972. The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N. J. The home in the 1950s of Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel. Thomas Kuhn, the author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and the father of the paradigm shift, threw an ashtray at my head.
Have we talked about how bad www.errolmorris.com organization is as a website? He has some of the most compelling reads in recent memory buried in there. The one about Fenton and the canon balls in/off the road to the Valley of the Shadow of Death in Crimea, try and find it… before clicking here.