Something I've been thinking about recently is medical licensing. The US restricts who can call themselves a medical doctor via licensing. This undoubtedly restricts the supply of doctors, even when compared to other countries which also have medical licensing.

To which most people would reply "sure, but licensing improves the quality of doctors and weeds out the quacks". In many cases it surely does, but look at the quantity (and quality) of legal alternative medicine. In effect we have a system which restricts the supply of legitimate doctors while allowing fraudsters and con-artists to run rampant. Does this seem completely insane to anyone else?

The more I think about it, the more I believe a general prosecution of fraud would improve the performance of many markets. I'm surprised this isn't something more libertarians talk about, as a dislike of fraud (as a form of coercion) is at the core of their beliefs.

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Why aren't they the most influential?

In sports, merit determines success, but sports aren't "meritocratic," which means "government or the holding of power by those with the greatest ability."

In academia, power flows from merit. For example, top scholars edit journals. Top researchers blindly review journal submissions and get jobs for their students.

And academia has wildly varying levels of meritocracy.

I don't know how "wildly" varying they are at the top institutions. But insofar as levels of meritocracy vary within academia, so does influence.

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This sounds more like back patting than reality. Sports are more meritocratic, as is chess. Why aren't they the most influential?And academia has wildly varying levels of meritocracy.

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In our society, academia reigns as a high elite, especially on advice for who to put in what roles.

Academics don't have the highest status. They don't enjoy huge incomes. Their "power" is arcane.

Who are the "elites"? I think the term was popularized by the leftist sociologist C. Wright Mills in "The Power Elite," which was composed of three interlocked elites, the economic, political, and military. Academics didn't even make the cut, not even to the extent of "Celebrities," who were considered, but dismissed.

[The notion that academia is an elite gives to me the appearance of a composite of an academic's self-congratulation and the denunciation of "liberal elites" by the populist and libertarian right.]

Perhaps a better model for the role of academia than one of being an elite of the usual kind (which, unless you're remarkably powerful, will always be opposed to other elites) resembles the high-prestige folks in hunter-gather societies, their prestige largely meritocratic. (This doesn't exclude that prestige must also have been deployed in somewhat self-interested ways.)

[I consider the relationship between prestige and egalitarianism in "Status inflation and deflation: Prestige, the essence of status, permits broad alliances" — http://juridicalcoherence.b... )

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I gather that in Robin's account a proclivity to bow to dominant coalitions arises from our basic aptitude for coalition politics.

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Academia has influence precisely because it is our most meritocratic institution. Buying influence in the manner of the "intelllectual" billionaires is hardly meritocratic. Nor is their promoting of cronies to positions in the intellectual world.

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Yes, I should have said "Some" and I meant hospitals that are more like factories.

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It might be why some (not "we"; don't presume to speak for me, as I enjoy both McDonald's and Walmart) despise McDonald's, Walmart, and many other successful ventures that explicitly caters to the desires of the common man and lower classes. These business explicitly eschew high end goods, of which the elite desire and approve. As Robin makes clear, the elites will do their best to demonize anyone or any group that doesn't bow to their preferences.

Also, it's unclear why you think that more hospitals is more desireable than more places offering food and clothing. I'd, also, like to know what you mean by "engineers design fool proof systems for lower paid less skilled practitioners". First, there is no such thing as "fool proof" anything. Second, that you think that you should design the lives of "less skilled practitioners" is incredibly condescending.

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But its objective stupidity is separate from the mockers' motives. Law firms, after all, advertise using other stupid irrelevancies without incurring ridicule. Who should we care about what the partners and associates look like in their photos? (Because the deputy DA on Law & Order is cute?) Who should care much about the sheer number of years an attorney has practiced?

I'm not even sure that the metric itself is worthless. Why not look at the record concerning oppositions to motions? (It would be relatively free of bias due to selection.)

[Added.]What if Quinn Emmanuel really is a cut above its competitors? (My cursory research suggests this might be the case.) Then, how other than by providing outcome data could they persuade clients of their superiority?

The ethical question is this: Do they report outcome data because it misleads the public or because it informs it? This is a question of fact. If the former (which seems to be less likely), they should be at least subject to bar discipline for misleading advertising. That it's only ridicule they face is telling.

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No, the mockery is because it's objectively stupid and a trick to fool people who only know law from TV--not from "false consciousness" on the part of overly conservative lawyers who are intimidated by this truth-producing innovation.

Consider win-rates on motions argued, which Quinn Emmanuel sometimes cite. Since there is often no negative repercussion for losing a motion, the optimal win-rate on motions filed is probably 30-40% from the perspective of the client. If you don't file 50-50 motions, you are leaving some opportunities on the table.

Now, there is no reason to know this if Law & Order is your only data point. But it really, literally is a trick to fool unsophisticated audiences.

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Yes elites are unlikely to object to publishing track records of gaining elite approval, as that makes their approval more valuable. Since elites don't now predict which people will win at sports, we don't mind that celebrating those who actually win the sport contests. In fact, maybe we have things like sports in part so we can point people to harmless places where outcomes matter, so they use that to rationalize that they live in a just society.

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It seems to me that this if true, it is a real problem for division of labor sorts of solutions. It might even be why we despise McDonald's and Walmart and certain mass produced goods. If not for this attitude, could we have more factory like hospitals in which engineers design fool proof systems for lower paid less skilled practitioners? And might the results be better?

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We have a hypothesis; let's generate some predictions!

All else equal, people should be more likely to use objective quality info (such as track records) when...1) they can do so secretly, or at least quietly. 2) elite opinion is absent, weak or unclear.3) the outcome matters a lot.

We apparently don't look at track records when choosing lawyers, doctors, real estate agents, pundits, teachers, and employees. Where do we look at track records? Generally when shopping on eBay and Amazon, where 1, 2, and to some extent 3 are true.

But in my experience, when people predict which athletes they think will perform well, they readily cite track records (violating 1). And while our society's overall elites may not care much which players you think will do well, sports has its own elite journalists, and if these don't play the role of elites in other fields, that fact wants explanation.

Politicians' track records are also frequently analyzed, though in this case the elites tend to participate in the analysis, so it's hard to say what to make of that.

An interesting anecdatum is that people care a great deal about choosing a primary/secondary school whose students go to good colleges. So *a track record of impressing elites* gets attention.

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Fascinating that you didn't say "us." :)

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What exactly is it about noticing that they never lose a fight that makes you want to pick a fight with them?

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