Sunday, December 20, 2009

Prefer Distillation

Tyler Cowen argues that you should always read the original source of material that you are studying, and offers nine reasons for doing so. The phrase conspicuously absent from his post is "opportunity cost." In fact, I'll quote Tyler himself from Discover Your Own Economist to explain this beautifully,
We must ignore the carping of the sophisticates. Well-educated critics may claim that pictures cannot be ranked, value is multidimensional or subjective, or that such talk represent a totalizing, colonizing, possessive, postcapitalist, hegemonic Western imperalist approach. All of those missives are beside the point. When it comes to the arts, dealing with the scarcity of our attention is more important than anything, including respecting the artists.
Exactly: Ignore sophisticated bloggers who want to tell you what to do with your scare attention! Read the Wikipedia pages or Spark Notes of famous thinkers whenever possible. If a book is truly ranked high, then you should maybe consider reading it. Otherwise, hail the modern distilling process, and only settle for the highly vaporizable stuff that reaches chamber #8: