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Bryan Caplan: March 2005

An Author Archive by Month (19 entries)

"Faith" Means Not Wanting to Believe What is True

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
You may have heard the odd factoid that faith in government drastically increased immediately after 9/11. Impossible, you say? Surely when a great tragedy happens, the organization charged to prevent it will lose credibility, not gain it? The factoid checks... MORE

Second Thoughts About Stats vs. Personal Experience

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
I can't believe I took so long to discover Thomas Gilovich's excellent How We Know What Isn't So. I've read almost all of the semi-popular books in cognitive psychology, and this turns out to be one of the best. All... MORE

When people argue about whether immigrants are pulling down our standard of living, they rarely notice a simple but deep arithmetical fact: Everyone in a country can get richer as per-capita income falls. Proof by example: Suppose the residents of... MORE

Let Them Get Roommates

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A fun fact about the U.S. versus Europe is that poorest 25% of Americans have more living space than the average European. But some Americans have been left behind. Our most deprived citizens often sleep three to a room, eat... MORE

A Chat With Falun Gong

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I had an interesting chat with an earnest young man who belongs to the Falun Gong movement. As best as I can tell, Falun Gong is the most serious of the opponents of Communist rule in China. Whenever I... MORE

Hanson Link Fix

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
My initial link for Hanson's working paper was incorrect. It's now been fixed. If you couldn't find it before, here it is. My apologies.... MORE

Terrorism Betting Markets: Inquiring Minds Know

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
A new working paper by Robin Hanson observes: "When a controversy erupts in the media, and widely differing views are expressed, it is natural to wonder which opinion is the one more favored by those who are most informed about... MORE

Hitler's Argument for Conquest

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
What was Hitler's argument for attacking other countries? You might think he didn't have one, but he did. His argument is frankly Malthusian: Our population is growing, and we will run out of food unless we get more land. (My... MORE

Postmodernism: Private Vice, Public Virtue?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I stumbled across an atypically insightful essay by Noam Chomsky, "What Is Wrong With Science and Rationality?," in the colorfully-named collection Market Killing. You can read a nearly complete version of the essay here. Chomsky pushes two theses in this... MORE

Riker and the Mathematician's Fallacy

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The last chapter of William Riker's classic work, Liberalism Against Populism, contains some of the strangest statements I have read in quite a while. Background: Riker is deeply impressed by the literature on social intransitivity. As Arrow and others showed,... MORE

Coping Classes

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Unhappy? My advice is to focus on your work. It helps you forget your woes, and once your life has improved, you've got something to show for your time of troubles. A fascinating passage from Robert Lane's The Loss of... MORE

Sin City opens on April 1, I haven't been as enthuiastic about a movie trailer since The Return of the King. And it's got a cool backstory too. Director Robert Rodriguez dropped out of the Directors Guild of America (DGA)... MORE

The Myth of Time Preference

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
How come interest rates are always positive? Austrian economists have a stock answer: it's because of time preference. All else equal, we prefer satisfaction sooner rather than later. If we did not have time preference, we would never consume anything,... MORE

Was Herbert Spencer Reincarnated as Julian Simon?

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I've come across an essay by Herbert Spencer that is eerily reminiscent of the work of the late great Julian Simon. Writing in the late 19th-century, Spencer proposes the following relationship between objective conditions and public opinion: "[T]he more things... MORE

Solve Tyler's Puzzle

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen has a number of hypotheses about why all movies cost the same price. As a frequent movie-goer, I'd like to know, but I don't find any of his answers too convincing. A lot of the problem gets solved... MORE

The Larry Summers controversy (see here and here) is probably going to make it even harder to do no-holds-barred research on the fascinating subject of gender identity. But fortunately, academia is probably still too competitive for obscurantism to triumph. Evolutionary... MORE

I finally saw The Aviator, and it's hard not to scream "Scorsese was robbed!" Larry White has already done a great job of analyzing the bread-and-butter economics of the story. What's fascinating to me, however, is the exploration of Hughes'... MORE

Why Be Normal?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Economists love to pour cold water on new ideas: "If your plan is so great, why aren't people already doing it?" And usually we're right to do so. Most of the economy's backseat drivers aren't fit to run an apple... MORE

Robin, Radon, and Regulation

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
When the typical economist tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is "Eh, maybe." Then I forget about it. When Robin Hanson tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is "No way! Impossible!" Then I think... MORE

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