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Home / Tag Archives: Behavioral Economics and Rationality

Tag Archives: Behavioral Economics and Rationality

I Win All My Ebola Bets

Back in 2014, Ebola was national - and global - news.  Even in Africa, fears ultimately turned out to be overblown.  The WHO's official tally was about 11,000 fatalities.  The true figure is almost certainly higher, but not grossly so.  This is far short of the hundreds of thousands of deaths so many predicted.  Brad DeLong, for example, opined: "Ebola will not become the biggest public health problem in West...

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Only the Rich

The government gives an excludable good away for free: roads, parks, education, medicine, whatever.  Then some economist advocates privatization of one of these freebies.  Technocrats may offer some technical objections to privatization.  Normal people, however, will respond with a disgusted rhetorical question: "So only the rich should have roads/parks/education/medicine/whatever."A straw man?  Not...

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What’s Wrong With Students: A Guest Post by Dennis Fried

Former philosophy professor and successful humorist Dennis Fried sent me some poignant comments on my piece in The Atlantic.  Reprinted with Fried's permission.Dear Dr. Caplan,I just read your article in Atlantic magazine and was blown away by the brutal honesty displayed there, especially coming from someone whose career depends on the very system being criticized. I taught philosophy at several public and...

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The Political Economy of Social Desirability Bias

Last week, I visited the University of Freiburg for a conference on behavioral political economy.  My presentation: "The Political Economy of Social Desirability Bias: The Case of Education."  The first half, which summarizes The Case Against Education, will already be familiar to most EconLog readers.  The second half, however, should seem new.  I blend psychology and public choice to explain why education...

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Reply to Noah on Sheepskin Effects and Collegiate Consumption

Continuing our debate, Noah Smith defends on odd view on sheepskin effects.  Here's my reply.  He's in blockquotes; I'm not.Bryan, and many proponents of the signaling model, believe that sheepskin effects are solid evidence that college is mostly about signaling. On the other hand, I believe that sheepskin effects are strong evidence against the signaling model, and are consistent with the human capital...

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Family, Pop Culture, and the Nurture Assumption

The central message of behavioral genetics is that modern human beings systematically overestimate the effects of upbringing and systematically underestimate the effects of heredity.  Judith Harris famously called this bias "the nurture assumption."  But why are people so predisposed to the nurture assumption?I've previously argued that first-hand parenting experience is misleading, because the short-run...

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The Unbearable Arbitrariness of Deploring

As a self-identified non-Neurotic man, I'm not surprised by the social ubiquity of anger, sadness, and fear.  When something bad happens, my instinctive reaction is to say, "Calm down, it's OK" - especially if it doesn't personally affect me.  But I recognize that I'm odd.  When something bad happens, a psychologically normal person's instinctive reaction is to say, "Oh my God, that's terrible!" - whether it...

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Hartmann-Sauer ITT

Back in June, progressive radio personality Thom Hartmann and Market Institute president Charles Sauer tried a version of my Ideological Turing Test on the air.  Sauer channels FDR; Hartmann channels Reagan.  Or at least they try.  Here's the result! Comments and Sharing...

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Why It Matters Whodunit

In modern America, every mass murder has two essential characteristics.First, the number murdered.Second, the group identity of the murderer.And not necessarily in that order.  Whenever a mass murder pops up in the news, many viewers hasten to find out whodunit - where "whodunit" isn't a person, but an affiliation.  Is the murderer a Muslim?  A non-Muslim who used a gun?  A Democrat?  Republican?  Or just a...

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Ideological Turing Test: Case Against Education Edition

I'm ending my seminar class on The Case Against Education with a game.  Students earn participation credit by volunteering to take a random Ideological Turing Test.  How it works:First, roll a d20 (20-sided die) to determine the topic:1. What was school like for you personally? 2. Why does so much education seem to irrelevant in the real world? 3. "Locked-in Syndrome" 4. Transfer of Learning 5. Ability...

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