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Revisiting the Tower of Babel

December 9, 2007

Tags World HistoryPhilosophy and Methodology

Following the biblical narration, the Tower of Babel was said to have been the culmination of a widespread mortal desire to revolt against the creator. Instead what was to result was a crumbling of the foundation of Babylonian civilization, causing exchange to come to a screeching halt and mass unrest which left behind an uncompleted tower to serve as a monumental testament to the perils of reckless capital consumption. And like that the wonderful boom times came to bust, and the first Skyscraper was added to the Skyscraper Index, Amen.Looking at these gorgeous renderings of some skyscrapers in the works, I can't help but think of Mark Thornton's QJAE article "SKYSCRAPERS AND BUSINESS CYCLES" (PDF linked). In our modern narrative, there exists a tendency to revolt against knowledge acquired through the painstaking method of deductive reasoning, which I imagine is motivated in part by self-deluding escapism, the unshakable faith that the universe will change the realities of scarcity to suit your wishes. I like to think that the Skyscraper Index is just one of the visible symptoms to this malady.

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