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Bryan Caplan: July 2005

An Author Archive by Month (28 entries)

Be Fruitful and Multiply by 1.5

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
This weekend I first heard that according to Jewish tradition, the obligation to "be fruitful and multiply" requires one to have a minimum of one girl and one boy. This claim seems to check out. This got me thinking: What... MORE

Give This Woman a Nobel Prize!

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
A relatively unknown economist, Emily Anne Schneider, already seems to be giving up on her ambition to win the Nobel Prize. In any case, I still hope it goes to Anne Krueger first. Krueger is much more than the co-discoverer,... MORE

Useless Information

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
When you cite a book, you're expected to list its city of publication. As in: Sheffrin, Steven. (1996). Rational Expectations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Questions: Does anyone care what city a book was published in? Why do you need to... MORE

The Common Sense of Bayesianism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Bayes' Rules is central to modern economics and modern psychology. According to Bayes' Rule, a rational person starts with some beliefs about probabilities (his "priors") and changes them in a particular way as new information arrives, in order to reach... MORE

Usually Look on the Bright Side of Life

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
[Note: This post may be better if you hum as you read.] I am a firm believer in the view that complaining about problems usually makes them worse. I have endured my fair share of bad service in restaurants, but... MORE

Resistance versus Avoidance

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Sunday I declared war on a pair of yellow jacket nests at the base of my house, and it got me thinking. According to conventional wisdom, when I use an anti-yellow jacket spray, I impose a negative externality on other... MORE

Which Doctors Should You Fear?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Some doctors keep abreast of the latest medical research. Others keep practicing the medicine they learned thirty years ago. We should all prefer the first kind, right? An interesting post by Russ Roberts on the accuracy of medical research has... MORE

The 1000 Milestone

Econlog Administrative Issues
Bryan Caplan
Econlog has just passed a milestone: 1000 total posts since inception!... MORE

Resolving the Sibling Paradox

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Intelligent critiques of evolutionary theory are extremely rare, but they do exist. Probably the best of the lot is philosopher David Stove. Stove has zero sympathy for religion; his complaint about evolutionary theory is that it makes false predictions. One... MORE

The Economics and Philosophy of the Cruise Ship

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've taken cruises to Bermuda, the Bahamas, and in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. And of course I'm not one to just sit back and enjoy the food. My mind soon wanders back to economics and philosophy. Tyler Cowen's recent... MORE

Hamilton on Bernanke on Bubbles

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
James Hamilton leaps to defend Ben Bernanke's skepticism about housing bubbles. As a guy who bought a Northern Virginia home in 2000, I sure hope they're right.... MORE

Medians, Means, and Irrationality

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Commercial speech does not currently enjoy the same protection under the Bill of Rights as other forms of speech. Donald Wittman has an interesting argument in favor of the double standard: The law of large numbers may explain the puzzle... MORE

Professors for Drugs

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok wants the freedom to buy drugs without having to beg a doctor's permission, and I couldn't agree more. When I mentally review my last five doctor's visits, virtually the sole benefit I got was access to a drug... MORE

What I Learned At the Library

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I'm in the last stages of my book on voter irrationality. Last week, I reached the part in my plan when I search for recent, relevant articles that I've missed. My plan: Scan all the articles published from 1999 to... MORE

E for Excited

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I am now officially excited about the movie version of V for Vendetta, opening this November. In case you haven't heard, V for Vendetta is a supremely excellent graphic novel about an anarchist philosopher's one-man war against a fascist dictatorship... MORE

Two Flawless Articles on Overconfidence

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Well, they're very good, anyway. The first is a 1999 gem by Philip Tetlock: "Theory-Driven Reasoning About Plausible Pasts and Probable Futures in World Politics: Are We Prisoners of Our Preconceptions?" (American Journal of Political Science 43(2): 335-66). The second... MORE

Capitalism: You Look Marvelous

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The most unintentionally funny magazine in the world is Adbusters. The world's got to be pretty good if the only thing you have left to bemoan is Ronald McDonald. The letters to the editor are a scream - the bitterest... MORE

Big Brains and Free Samples

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I was intrigued by Arthur Robson's explanation for why "intelligence and longevity were simultaneously exaggerated in humans." ("The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior" 2001. Journal of Economic Literature 39: 11-33): Not only has human brain size increased dramatically over the... MORE

Rule By Fools Is the Rule

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong keeps asking "Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Fools?" (see here, here, and here for starters). This makes me wonder whether he'd ask the same question if he came across the following passage from Jeffrey Cohen's... MORE

A Little Hope for Hong Kong

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Dan Klein has alerted me to the presence of two free-market organizations in Hong Kong, the Lion Rock Institute and The Hong Kong Centre for Economic Research. It's a start. Klein also pointed me to a nice lecture on what... MORE

Hong Kong: Statist at Heart?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Hong Kong has had the freest economy in the world since 1970, the earliest year covered by the Economic Freedom of the World data set. Indeed, it's higher now under the Communists than it was in 80's! And it's hard... MORE

Imperfect Information and the Generation Gap

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I recently argued that economics could help evolutionary psychology explain why parents and their children disagree. If your actions have externalities for your siblings or other kin, the optimal choice for your parents' genes differs from the optimal choice for... MORE

Minimum Consistency

Price Controls
Bryan Caplan
Radley Balko amusingly reveals that ACORN, a group that crusades for the minimum wage, has been trying to pay its employees below the minimum wage for years. Ad hominem attack, right? No, there's more to it: In a suit ACORN... MORE

Improving Student Evaluations

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When professors complain about grade inflation, they rarely mention that their students are the easiest graders of all. The main way that colleges evaluate professors' teaching is with student evaluations. Students typically rate how good their professor was on a... MORE

Anti-Foreign Bias Strikes Again

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
The Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science blog features an interesting graph comparing the actual and perceived percentange of foreign-born residents in 20 European countries. Consistent with my research on anti-foreign bias, people overestimate the percentage of foreigners in... MORE

Evolutionary Psych and the Generation Gap

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Watching War of the Worlds reminded me of one of the big puzzles in evolutionary psychology: Why do parents and their children disagree? "I only want what's best for you" is every parent's slogan, and if Darwin is right, how... MORE

Your Money or Yourself

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Most people care a lot more about money than I do, but even so, almost no one wants to be married for their money. It's puzzling. You might say that since marriage is a long-term contract, people only want to... MORE

Three Last Gasps on Health Economics

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I've been meaning to reply to Trent McBride and Tyler Cowen (see here and here) on my doubts about the effects of medicine on health. McBride poses three challenges: Challenge #1: Don’t you have to recognize the non-mortality benefits of... MORE

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