How to be a successful maverick

I read this morning a recent New York Times article on Wynne Godley, which argues that not only was he right in predicting the impending crisis but also about why.

One of the reasons he wasn’t taken more seriously in the 1990s and early 2000s, however, was that he had been issuing the same warning for, oh, decades. All credit to him for never being tempted to join the consensus even as his predictions failed to come true year after year; but spectacularly good forecasts need to get the timing as well as the direction and the mechanisms broadly right. (As the old joke puts it, it’s safe to predict what’s going to happen, or when, but never both at the same time.) There are strong incentives for herding in forecasting (as I said in yesterday’s post), so staying maverick is a great characteristic, but it has a limited shelf life. To be a successful maverick, you have to start sticking your neck out against the consensus at a later stage than the point at which you realise the consensus is wrong: the inevitable happens slowly.

Godley’s key book, with Marc Lavoie, is


There’s been a lot to add to my reading list from the rest of the weekend papers.

 by Paul Collier. Confusingly, there are two versions with different subtitles – I presume they’re the same book? (A good follow-up to 
by Martin Ruhs, which I reviewed recently.)

[amazon_image id=”0195398653″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World[/amazon_image]

 by Eric Schlosser – scary sounding expose of current nuclear dangers. Schlosser is interviewed in The Guardian about the book.

[amazon_image id=”1846141486″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Command and Control[/amazon_image]

  by Joe Moran sounds like a good follow up to this really interesting series of blog posts by Ben Thompson about technological disruption and business models in TV. Not to mention this workshop on the economics of public service broadcasting.

[amazon_image id=”1846683912″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Armchair Nation: An intimate history of Britain in front of the TV[/amazon_image]

Finally, the always-interesting (and usually quite crunchy) End Times philosophy interviews in 3am Magazine this week featured Susanna Siegel on phenomenology, with fascinating stuff on how our brains turn perceptions into decisions. Kahneman and Tversky territory. Her book is called


[amazon_image id=”0199931240″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Contents of Visual Experience (Philosophy of Mind Series)[/amazon_image]

For light relief, I like the sound of 

by David Barnett.

[amazon_image id=”1907777970″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl[/amazon_image]


One thought on “How to be a successful maverick

Comments are closed.