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Eric Falkenstein
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Isn't it rational to think your status orientation is not merely a game, but should be the focus of others? That is, you aren't just maximizing an arbitrary status but about insights and skills closest to Truth, Beauty and Good? If you didn't believe that, you wouldn't be very good within the group you chose to signal among. If you think, "different strokes for different folks", aren't you conceding your group is no better than a bunch of Trekies or Esperanto speakers, people with skills to be sure, but irrelevant if not socially obtuse?
Toggle Commented May 20, 2009 on Spent = Gold + Schlock at Overcoming Bias
I think the signaling issue is very relevant, but as a 43 year old dad, much less relevant to my decisions than previously. Not zero, but very small. My priorities are focused on raising good kids, as opposed to finding a mate to create good kids. I have enough, and I'm focused on them. Also, I think the signaling problem is two-fold. First, the strategic choice of what peer group to impress, second, to impress within that group. Miller is basically suggesting his peer group is the best to impress, those with his preferences. There is a lot of uncertainty over which peer group will be most fruitful, and your payoffs are from relative status within that group plus the relative status of that group relative to other groups. It seems only natural that the peer group you chose is better than other peer groups, because it would be difficult to motivate oneself to excel in a group one did not think had the best future, was on the right track (or at least, not way off track like say a pomo lit crit theorists). I think Robin is in danger of peer group relativism, or nihilism, and this will hurt his own status signaling because it seems so pointless if true. Further, some status groups are, objectively, better than others: they are more productive, contribute more to their neighbors, the arts, sciences, posterity. So, the debate as to whether it is better to be a libertarian economist or liberal psychologist may be unresolvable, these are better than working up the status hierarchy in a crack house, playing stupid politics as satirized in The Office, or being a professional wrestling groupie.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2009 on Spent = Gold + Schlock at Overcoming Bias