Raj Persaud in conversation - the podcasts
What roles do chance and luck play in our lives?

From the Princeton University Press site:

From New York Times bestselling author and economics columnist Robert Frank, a compelling book that explains why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in their success, why that hurts everyone, and what we can do about it

 

How important is luck in economic success? No question more reliably divides conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. But liberals are also correct to note that countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much. In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine. In Success and Luck, bestselling author and New York Times economics columnist Robert Frank explores the surprising implications of those findings to show why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success—and why that hurts everyone, even the wealthy.

 

Frank describes how, in a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones—and enormous income differences—over time; how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways.

 

But, Frank argues, we could decrease the inequality driven by sheer luck by adopting simple, unintrusive policies that would free up trillions of dollars each year—more than enough to fix our crumbling infrastructure, expand healthcare coverage, fight global warming, and reduce poverty, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. If this sounds implausible, you'll be surprised to discover that the solution requires only a few, noncontroversial steps.

 

Compellingly readable, Success and Luck shows how a more accurate understanding of the role of chance in life could lead to better, richer, and fairer economies and societies.

 

Robert H. Frank is the H. J. Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics at Cornell University's Johnson School of Management. He has been an Economic View columnist for the New York Times for more than a decade and his books include The Winner-Take-All Society (with Philip J. Cook), The Economic Naturalist, The Darwin Economy (Princeton), and Principles of Economics (with Ben S. Bernanke). He lives in Ithaca, New York.

Direct download: interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55am UTC

Does Extremism Protect You From Depression?

Professor Jeremy Coid completed medical training at Sheffield University and training in Forensic Psychiatry at the Maudsley and Broadmoor Hospitals.

 

He was trained in research at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, where he completed his MD.

 

As Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist he established the medium secure service to East London for mentally disordered offenders.

 

He has extensive experience of giving evidence in court as an expert witness in cases of serious violence, sexual offending, and on childcare. He has been an advisor to the Department of Health, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Defence on management of high risk offenders.

 

He was appointed Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychiatry in 1987 and awarded a personal chair in 1995.

 

This Podcast focuses on the recently published paper entitled: ‘Extremism, religion and psychiatric morbidity in a population-based sample of young men’ published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Jeremy W. Coid, Kamaldeep Bhui, Deirdre MacManus, Constantinos Kallis, Paul Bebbington and Simone Ullrich

Background (from the paper)

There is growing risk from terrorism following radicalisation of young men. It is unclear whether psychopathology is associated. Aims: To investigate the population distribution of extremist views among UK men. Method: Cross-sectional study of 3679 men, 18–34 years, in Great Britain. Results: Pro-British men were more likely to be White, UK born, not religious; anti-British were Muslim, religious, of Pakistani origin, from deprived areas. Conclusions: Men at risk of depression may experience protection from strong cultural or religious identity.

FROM THE PAPER:

 

The prevalence of depression was significantly higher among Pakistani and Black minority groups than UK-born White men...

The key finding was that men... with neutral or undecided views, were more likely to be depressed. Anti-British extremist views may have offered protection against depression, specifically among men of Pakistani origin. These findings correspond to the hypothesis that lack of personal identity and meaning, with unfulfilled need for belonging, create psychological vulnerability both to extremism and anxiety and depression. Within this theoretical framework, attributing blame, identifying responsible perpetrators, strong national or other cultural identity, and active support for or opposition to a cause, may protect against depression. For some men, depression may be a precursor to ‘mobilisation’, leading to active support for and consideration of involvement in terrorism or armed conflict along a pathway of radicalisation. Lack of identity and uncertainty, together with depression, may contribute to a vulnerable state in which personal crisis can act as a trigger, resulting in an opening for new beliefs and values, encouraged by people holding similar values that legitimise violence. Relatives’ and friends’ experiences of social exclusion, including poverty and reported experiences of racism, may have influenced these individuals to take a more active position. Factors such as turning to religion or new political beliefs triggered by a war (against people with similar cultural and religious characteristics) could result in a protective sense of empowerment involving new meaning, belief systems and identity along a pathway ultimately leading to violent action. However, since we cannot determine the direction of association in this cross-sectional survey, respondents with depression may simply have been less likely to fight for or against their country or to hold extreme views because of their depression.

 


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