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Bryan Caplan: February 2007

An Author Archive by Month (28 entries)

Hanson Gets Empirical

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson describes four interesting meta-studies on medical research that ought to make you less confident about the latest study that "proves" the wonders of modern medicine.... MORE

What Did Pinochet Know that Cowen Doesn't?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
With his characteristic fatalism, Tyler tells us:If they put me in charge of a Latin country, I don't think I could deliver superior growth performance. At best I would avoid some of the really stupid mistakes, but I couldn't turn... MORE

"Mental Health," Moral Character, and Poverty

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: Every once in a while, I am asked by somebody what I would do to eliminate poverty in America. The first thing that pops into my head is the topic of mental health. A while back I blogged... MORE

The Proactionary Principle

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
I've already defended blanket skepticism about supposedly impending disasters. Here's a neat essay by Max More defending a "Proactionary Principle" against the far more popular "Precautionary Principle." Intro: "We can call this “the” Proactionary Principle so long as we realize... MORE

The Myth of the Rational Voter, Sowell Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
After skewering Obama's views on economic policy, Thomas Sowell (like another guy who bolstered my love of econ when I was a discouraged undergrad) concludes with a ringing denial of voters' rational expectations:But politics is not about facts. It is... MORE

Interrupting the Statist Quo

Fiscal Policy
Bryan Caplan
Don Boudreaux's latest observations on "spending addiction" remind me of a line from Phil Gramm that I annually present to my IO class: [I]n the darkest hour of the health care debate, when it looked like Bill Clinton was about... MORE

Height and Happiness

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Tyler relays a Kling-esque critique of happiness research from John Quiggan: Suppose you wanted to establish whether children’s height increased with age, but you couldn’t measure height directly. One way to respond to this problem would be to interview groups... MORE

The Myth of the Rational Voter, Posner Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When I was a junior at UC Berkeley, I wasn't sure if I should stick with economics after graduation. Then I started reading a lot of Richard Posner, and my love of econ was reborn. Fifteen years later, he's still... MORE

A Fun Stupid Question

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
Daylight savings time is going to be longer this year. When I heard this, I started laughing about the following stupid question: "Will it be good for plants?"... MORE

Earth to Educators: People Hate School

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong raises an important puzzle: One would have thought that the rise in the value of a sheepskin from a 30% lifetime wage premium over a high-school diploma in 1975 to a 90% premium in 2005 would have called... MORE

"Pro-Gamer Groups Oppose Dungeons & Dragons"

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
When I was a young nerd, a local busy-body told my mom that I shouldn't be allowed to play Dungeons & Dragons because "It's devil worship." Such complaints continue to this day. But I do have one thing to say... MORE

My family subscribes to both XM and Sirius satellite radio. The reason is that XM has a deal with the manufacturer of my car, and Sirius has a deal with the manufacturer of my wife's car. When I heard of... MORE

Simply Wonderful

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
It's time to officially declare Ben Casnocha a Wunderkind. Here is his brilliant post on the simplicity of losing weight, becoming a better writing, becoming a better entrepreneur, and being a good parent. The punchline: Note that just because something's... MORE

How Redistribution Really Works

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
From Olaf Gersemann's Cowboy Capitalism: In the United States 41.4 percent of the cash transfers go to the poorest 30 percent of the population.Typical American indifference to the fate of the poor, right? Well, if that's American indifference, then what's... MORE

Inflationary Disagreement

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw, Reis, and Wolfers have a neat empirical paper on beliefs -and disagreement - about inflation: In most standard macroeconomic models, people share a common information set and form expectations rationally. There is typically little room for people to disagree.... MORE

Computers, Growth, and Google

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Back in the early 90's, growth economists kept quoting Solow on the puzzling failure of the computer to boost productivity: "We see the computer age everwhere except in the productivity statistics." On my train ride home from NYC, I read... MORE

Ed Stringham Won Us $25,000!

Austrian Economics
Bryan Caplan
It's a very ancient saying, But a true and honest thought, That if you become a teacher, By your pupils you'll be taught. --The King and I I've long nagged my students to enter essay contests. So I'm especially pleased... MORE

Asymmetric Sell-Outs

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Brian Doherty's history of libertarianism reminded me of a pattern that's struck me before : When wars break out, there are far more doves who "sell out" and support the war than hawks who "sell out" and oppose the war.... MORE

What Do We Know About Climate Preferences?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you surveyed a random sample of Americans with the following question: "Overall, would you rather the climate in the area you live got warmer, got cooler, or stayed the same?" Has such a survey ever been done? My guess... MORE

The Triumph of Libertarianism: Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I've been reading drafts of Brian Doherty's history of modern libertarianism since 1994. Now this remarkable labor of love - winningly titled Radicals for Capitalism, is, at last, complete. And it rocks. Even though I've repeatedly read earlier versions of... MORE

The Most Interesting Blog Comment I've Ever Read

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
No offense, Econlog contributors, but it's a reaction to Robin's post on deprogramming at Overcoming Bias: The difference between the exit counselors and [famous deprogrammer] Ted Patrick seems to be one of commitment, much like what Pavlov worked on for... MORE

Have sexual harassment laws (and their stricter enforcement) noticeably reduced the probability of co-workers marrying? Have they noticeably reduced the probability of people getting married at all? If the workplace is one of the main places where people meet, it's... MORE

The New Deal vs. the Kling Deal

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I'm frankly puzzled by Arnold's latest take on the New Deal. (That quote is from him, not DeLong as I initially guessed!) I think the New Deal was moderately fascist (i.e., Mussolini light, not Hitler light), but let's leave that... MORE

Collusion in the Classroom

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I grade on a curve. So if all of my students studied 50% less, they might learn less economics, but their grades would stay the same. The students keep studying because they are in a Prisoners' Dilemma - their lives... MORE

Cowen Gets Caplanian

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
When was the last time Tyler Cowen and I agreed? Let's just say it's been a while. But he's just hit the adverse selection nail on the head: When I argue that adverse selection is not the key, I hear... MORE

Fighting the Religious Gender Gap

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The GodMen, a group striving to make religion more masculine, is doing its best to fight the religious gender gap. Will they have any long-term success? Consider me a Doubting Thomas.... MORE

Giving Up, Failing Out, and the Return to Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Borrowers rarely default on their loans. Nevertheless, differences in default rates have huge effect on rates of return. Suppose, for example, that two lenders charge 3% interest, but one has a default rate of 1% and the other has a... MORE

The most intellectually serious proponents and fellow travellers of anarchism are, paradoxically, a bunch of stodgy economists. That's one of the lessons of Ed Stringham's new 700-page anthology, Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice. This volume brings... MORE

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