22 Sep 2010

Which Profession Causes More Damage, Economists or Psychologists?

Big Brother 4 Comments

I think we economists inflict more suffering when measured in total–say, damage per economist–but in terms of individually screwing with people who are completely at your mercy, it’s hard to beat psychologists/psychiatrists. How’s this (HT2 Tyler Cowen):

In an effort to dominate the [Chilean] miners, the team of psychologists led by Mr Iturra has instituted a series of prizes and punishments. When the miners behave well, they are given TV and mood music. Other treats – like images of the outside world are being held in reserve, as either a carrot or a stick should the miners become unduly feisty.

In a show of strength, the miners have at times refused to listen to the psychologists, insisting that they are well. ”When that happens, we have to say, ‘OK, you don’t want to speak with psychologists? Perfect. That day you get no TV, there is no music – because we administer these things,”’ said Dr Diaz. ”And if they want magazines? Well, then they have to speak to us. This is a daily arm wrestle.”

I know you’re probably thinking, “Is this translated from Spanish or something? What’s up with the “effort to dominate the miners”? I’d like to check the original source, because surely Bob is exaggerating something here.”

By all means, read the original.

4 Responses to “Which Profession Causes More Damage, Economists or Psychologists?”

  1. Bob Roddis says:

    Because of her special and extraordinary healing powers, I hear that Nurse Ratched was brought in to “help” those poort miners.


  2. Koen says:

    This is of course the ultimate dream for that class of people we call “government experts”: Complete control over a group of people who are utterly defenseless, which offers all sorts of opportunities for experimentation, kudos from colleague experts, and simply the exercise of power. All under the mantle of “expertise”.

    The miners seemed to be doing fine on their own, (except that whole being trapped thing of course)

  3. Fascist Soup says:

    “While NASA experts brought to Chile as advisers have recommended sending the wines and withholding the cigarettes, the Chileans have done the opposite, saying the miners have nearly two kilometres of ventilated tunnels to smoke a cigarette and relax (as opposed to the confinement of space travel) while further noting the average miner consumes large quantities of alcohol.”


    Praise Mao.

    If I was trapped in a tunnel, I’d ask them to send women, brats, beer, and a 52″ flat screen with DirectTV hook up.

    Further, if some NASA jerk was ordering me around though some big brother wall mounted TV, there would be hell to pay. I’m one of the few people who hates NASA with a passion. Those clowns lie about everything and waste untold amounts of money on their dumb pet projects trying to prove the universe actually bends.

  4. Avram says:

    It’s a sorry state of affairs that something like this is considered “the right thing”. Unfortunately it is a deep seated cultural problem. The public in general has built up a veneration for “experts” and P.h.Ds and all that nonsense, not because they know of and understand the positive contributions these people have made, but rather because public ignorance has been able to dress them in the mysterious cloak of the “scientist” and ill perceive them as some kind of mystic objects of awe and reverence. It need not matter if the guy is actually a crook or nut job or whatever and that everyone else selling him is in on the racket.

    What’s missing today is healthy public skepticism.

    Koen’s comments provide the necessary further elaboration on the injustice of the situation.