PODCAST: “Hexapodia” Is þe Key Insight XXX: Faulty Torpedoes, WWII Submarines, Promotions, & Our Hideous Waste of Human Potential
Noah Smith & Brad DeLong's 30:00 < [Length of Weekly Podcast] < 60:00, with Special Guest Matt Suandi
Matt Suandi—forced off of his India RCT development-economics project by the COVID plague—has taken the plague year to write a brilliant paper: Matthew Suandi: Promoting to Opportunity: Evidence and Implications from the U.S. Submarine Service <https://static1.squarespace.com/static/615a18f283700f2629a58019/t/618ace007764e35a1b3f0176/1636486691263/MatthewSuandi_JMP_Nov_21_Berkeley.pdf>
In the early stages of the Pacific War, whether a US submarine-launched torpedo exploded was a matter of luck.
If a submarine captain had an enlisted man marked out for promotion, those promotions happened much more often if the submarine returned from its cruise having succeeded in sinking ships.
Those promoted because they happened to be on lucky submarines with torpedoes that exploded lived 2.4 years longer than their counterparts who happened to be on unlucky submarines and were not promoted.
Those promoted because they happened to be on lucky submarines with torpedoes that exploded are recorded as having a last known address in a zip code with housing prices higher by 7 percentiles than their counterparts who happened to be on unlucky submarines and were not promoted.
Early promotion to a job with more responsibility and scope—at least in the WWII-era USN—shapes your life to a remarkable degree by giving you scope to develop and exercise your talents.
If the WWII-era USN is typical, we waste huge amounts of human potential by not giving people workplace opportunities to show what they can learn to do.
Equality isn’t just about money: it is about scope for action, about developing and exercising talents, and about receiving external validation.
A good society would give people much more opportunity to discover how big a deal they are and can become, and remind them of this at every opportunity.
It is very, very important to conduct realistic live-fire tests under realistic conditions
Matthew Suandi: Promoting to Opportunity: Evidence and Implications from the U.S. Submarine Service <https://static1.squarespace.com/static/615a18f283700f2629a58019/t/618ace007764e35a1b3f0176/1636486691263/MatthewSuandi_JMP_Nov_21_Berkeley.pdf>
Dud Torpedoes of World War II <http://www.ww2pacific.com/torpedo.html>
Herman Wouk: The Winds of War <https://www.amazon.com/Winds-War-Herman-Wouk/dp/0316952664/>, War & Remembrance <https://archive.org/details/warremembrancewwouk00wouk>
Anthony Newpower: Iron Men and Tin Fish: The Race to Build a Better Torpedo during World War II <https://www.amazon.com/Iron-Men-Tin-Fish-Technology/dp/027599032X/>
+, of course:
Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep <https://books.google.com/books?id=fCCWWgZ7d6UC>