#TWET...But What If We're Wrong?
By Amy Willis
Why are we so convinced the things we think are true today will still be true for future generations? I mean, everybody knows The Beatles are the greatest rock group of all time, right? (And while pyroseed13 argues in the Comments that once the Baby Boomers are gone, no one will talk about the Beatles, the Stones, or Clapton anymore, as a Gen X-er, I assure you at least I’ll still be talking!)
Klosterman notes our propensity to want predictions. Indeed, in thinking about what questions I might pose in our subsequent EconTalk Extra, I’m immediately tempted to do just that…ask people for predictions! Who will be the most widely regarded author/rock star/quarterback of our time? But that’s the point, right? We can’t know. According to Klosterman, it’s all in how future generations will relate the products of our time to their own lives.
Probably the most interesting single concept that I took away from this conversation was Klosterman’s idea of “ancillary verisimilitude,” the notion that some sort of transparent reality is accidentally created in certain media. Klosterman brings this idea up when he and Russ are discussing TV shows. Klosterman argues that the shows we think are so culturally significant today are not the ones that future generations will see as emblematic of our times. He suggests Roseanne might be the representative. Any other suggestions? I live in Indianapolis, so it’s tempting to suggest The Middle from today’s lineup of shows. (#7FavTVShows seems to be trending today on twitter…Let me just say I hope Klosterman is right!)
The theme of the democratization of information comes up again, this time in the very beginning of the interview. Klosterman thinks that with widening channels of communication and more opportunities for people to voice their opinions, we might actually be making it more difficult to contradict or disprove even very bad ideas. This reminded me of Arnold Kling’s recent review of The Revolt of the Public. Democratization, he says, has altered the landscape of “insiders” and “outsiders” dramatically- and to the benefit of the “outsiders.” So what do you think, “How should we view the shift in the balance of power in favor of outsiders and the insiders’ loss of legitimacy? Should we cheer, or should we worry?”