The analogy is imperfect: Nineteenth-century Irish potato farmers thought the famine was temporary and therefore underreacted (continuing to plant as before), while 1980s American manufacturing workers thought the widening wage gap was temporary and therefore overreacted. In both cases, inappropriate reactions magnified the effects of the initial surprise.
One moral is that it's better not to make mistakes than to make mistakes. But of course we already knew that. The deeper moral is that one particular kind of mistake—a confusion between what is temporary and what is permanent—can explain a lot of human history.
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself.
IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything
It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.