Bryan Caplan  

Farewell to Bart Wilson, For Now

PRINT
Brace Yourselves. The In-Laws ... A Literary Theoretical Treatme...
Guest blogger Bart Wilson is signing off, for now.  He's been one of my favorite experimental economists for the last decade, and I've been pleased to see him bring his unique perspective to EconLog over the past month. 

Out of all Bart's posts, "The Error of Utilitarian Behavioral Economics" is probably my favorite.  If poor decision-making is as ubiquitous as behavioral economists claim, why isn't stickK.com as big as Facebook?  Bart points to an experimental resolution: People like being in control of their own lives - and gladly accept lower-quality outcomes to avoid being under other people's thumbs.  Thus, while behavioral economics is usually seen as pro-paternalism (or at least, in Cass Sunstein's words, "anti-anti-paternalism"), experiments reveal two offsetting behavioral effects.

First, people often make systematically bad decisions.

Second, people value their right to make their own decisions - even if they know their decisions are systematically bad.

Farewell, Bart.  While it's sad to see you go, we can all hope you don't stay away from the blogosphere for long.

P.S. I hear Bart has one last post in the works.



COMMENTS (4 to date)
Bart writes:

Thank you for the kind words, Bryan, and to everyone at EconLog for sharing your forum with me. I would also like to thank the commenters for giving me things to think about. Cheers!

NZ writes:

This isn't meant as a critique of Bart Wilson, and I apologize if anyone already made this point in the comments to the aforelinked Econlog entry, but isn't another plausbile theory about StickK's lack of greater popularity simply that people don't like to be reminded that they're weak and irrational, or that they don't like to do hard or uncomfortable things like reform their bad behavior?

Callum McPherson writes:

It's very funny how often capitalist libertarians sound like Marxists. It might seem like you are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but both of you would agree that people shouldn't be under the thumb of another, but Marxists simply extend it to say that workers shouldn't have to rely on bosses hiring them either.They would say that under slightly different dialectical circumstances there would be greater demand for democracy at work, and therefore fewer people 'under the thumb' of bosses.

S m v writes:

[Comment removed pending confirmation of email address. Email the webmaster@econlib.org to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog and EconTalk.--Econlib Ed.]

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top