By now you have probably read the Pulitzer prize winning Washington Post article about violinist Joshua Bell performing in the D.C subway.

You have to love the Posties; if they can find a way to diminish and demean their own subscribers, they go for it - because they know that their newspaper can only continue to be the font of wisdom as long as the civil servants believe they have to read it each morning.

Playing Bach in a subway station is like playing baseball indoors; all the skill in the world can't make it anything but a nuisance.

P.S. Bell's virtuosity is unchallengable; his musicianship, like Midori's, so dreadfully earnest that, of course, it gets an A+ from the Wurlitzers of record and requires an audience full of schoolies full of superior appreciation.

Kim Zussman writes: 

Aesthetics and taste are subjective and subject to presentation. Examples include statistical inconsistency in rating fine wine and celebrities out of context. When you meet so-called "knock out" actresses in person, more often the surprise is disappointment.

Russ Sears writes: 

I am in the middle of reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. It tries to describe what psychologist "know" about how intuition (fast thinking) and analysis (slow thinking) work and work together. I will try to give a more complete report once I am finished with it.

However, briefly it mainly describes how thinking creates biases, while at the same time tries to show respect and analyze how amazing "thinking" is.

One of the biases: it is clear most people underestimate the persuasiveness of their surrounding to their effect on their mood, judgment and decision making with even subtle unperceived differences he calls "priming". Such things as a poster with big eyes in the room with a "honor box" for coffee greatly increases the amount put in the box. And a forced smile creates happier people much later.

In the intro- he implied that his main criticism has been the of focusing on the biases rather than the strengths of "thinking", However, so far my main criticism is his over generalizations, and insistence that these studies prove "we" (all of us) are victims of these biases. And so far the book seem to imply that only through analysis (by such studies) can these be recognized and "we" overcome them. Yet, I would suggest that many of the more successful and happy people's "edge" comes from intuitively having perceived many of these biases early on in their lives and having made adjustments to offset them…without perhaps knowing the "science" behind "why".

Such are the people that stopped for the music in the subway station. Even though primed to ignore it. Yet while he insist that "all" are victims of specific biases. Their is perhaps in total evidence that we all accept, the possibility of biases for the power of thinking. But it is natural for life to perceive that they are the superior different one in overcoming these biases. The violinist show many think they would stop and listen, but few actually do.

Even so, the book thinking fast and slow has given me much to think about, and I would recommend it to all.

Dan Grossman writes:

 As a former violinist, I had enjoyed the You Tube video and the seeming fact Bell would play incognito in the subway. But I hadn't realized it was a put-up job by the Washington Post.

It's like all those Kahneman and Tversky experiments everyone is so excited about to show there's no rational man that economics is based on, where students play games with small amounts of money given to them.Contrary to that famous fairness experiment, if the student in the real world were negotiating to divide $1 million dollars of real money and he had the choice of getting 10% ($100,000) or nothing, while the other player got 90%, he would take the $100,000.

Victor Niederhoffer adds:

One would add that when Bell plays, his body movements are very poetic and add immeasurably to the sense of music of the audience. Presumably because this was a set up job similar to what Prof Phil pointed out vis a vis the tag team of beggars and homeless brought in to keep man small, and the chair to his credit first brought to the attention of the list vis a vis The Port Authority in New York, which is always laden with the beggars and homeless to keep man small, a la Ayn Rand's essay on Victor Hugo's The Compafriros, the maimed in Spain raised to show how bad the lot of some people can be relative to the feudal existence of the masses, one can assume that Joshua did not make those body movements and twists and turns that lets the audience know he is really making music, so that it would be more likely that the Wash Post could prove the point that no one would notice. 31 bucks on the other hand seems pretty good considering the lack of charity in workers in the beltway who are living off the fruit of other peoples labor. 


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