Tuesday , October 16 2018
Home / Tag Archives: Behavioral Economics and Rationality

Tag Archives: Behavioral Economics and Rationality

“State Capacity” is Sleight of Hand

Suppose I proposed the following theory of economic development:The root cause of economic development is social capacity.  Highly-developed societies have immense social capacity, as evidenced by their countless achievements.  Backwards societies lack social capacity, as evidenced by their countless problems.  You'd probably be unimpressed.  At first glance, this is a circular theory that explains nothing:...

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Szasz and the Statistics of Rare Events

Many years ago, Thomas Szasz largely convinced me that mental illness is radically different from ordinary physical illness.  In economic terms: People with physical illness have unfavorable constraints; people with mental illness have socially disapproved preferences.  Physical illness is about what you're able to do; mental illness is about what you want to do.  Yes, it's generally bad manners to loudly...

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Franckly Absurd

Every human being, including me, inclines to self-serving bias.  But I was genuinely taken aback by Raphael Franck's attempt to resolve our French terrorism bet in his own favor.  Why?1. Franck counts the 150 fatalities on Germanwings Flight 9525 as terrorism, even though virtually no one else does.  When I challenged this determination, his response was: "The crash of the German flight was cheered upon by...

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Franck on the French Terrorism Bet

Raphael Franck claims that he actually won our ten-year bet.  With his permission, I reprint our email exchange on the topic.FranckDear Bryan, I attach to this email an excel file which lists the number of people who were killed in terrorist acts and riots in the past 10 years. I undertook a thorough research job (not limited to wikipedia of course) and won our bet because my count, there were more than...

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Irrational and Negligent

What's wrong with your intellectual opponents?  One of the most popular answers is that they're "stupid and evil."  Most of the thinkers I respect go out of their way to disavow this facile answer.  Indeed, most of the thinkers I respect go out of their way to praise their opponents' intelligence and virtue.  They don't merely opine, "We can disagree without being disagreeable."  They put those who disagree...

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Roccia on The Case Against Education

Johnny Roccia poses one of the hardest challenges to The Case Against Education I've encountered.  (Aside: The audiobook is now out!)  I see it as a special case of a more general issue: Given the high anonymity of modern societies, why isn't there vastly more lying?Here's... Johnny.Okay, so I just finished the book.  First off - incredible.  It went beyond even my very high expectations.  But I can gush...

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Extra Questions for Taleb

The time just flew by during my conversation with Nassim Taleb.  Here are a few questions I didn't get to ask him:1. Do you think the traditional academic curriculum is even worse than I say, because it creates a national intellectual monoculture, prone to experiencing negative Black Swans and missing positive Black Swans?2. You write: "There is an ample academic literature trying to convince us that options...

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An Economist Deals With a Cancelled Flight

Today, I flew from Monterey to LAX on United, then on to Washington Dulles, with a connection planned to Dayton, Ohio. My plan was to rent a car in Dayton and drive to my hotel in Richmond, Indiana, and then go to a late dinner with some of the faculty at Indiana University East. I speak tomorrow afternoon at Indiana University East. One problem: when I got to Dulles, I found out that my flight to Dayton had...

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From Game Theory to Gas Theory

What exactly are the strategic advantages of using poison gas?  Militarily, it's hard to see the temptation; by the standards of modern weaponry, poison gas sure doesn't seem remarkably cheap or effective.  Politically, moreover, the danger is obvious.  Since almost every major country deplores the use of poison gas, deploying it is a great way to make powerful enemies.So how would a good game theorist make...

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Adam Smith on the Bipartisan Support for Attacking Syria

With what impatience does the man of spirit and ambition, who is depressed by his situation, look round for some great opportunity to distinguish himself? No circumstances, which can afford this, appear to him undesirable. He even looks forward with satisfaction to the prospect of foreign war, or civil dissension; and, with secret transport and delight, sees through all the confusion and bloodshed which...

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