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Bryan Caplan: July 2007

An Author Archive by Month (45 entries)

Opera versus the NFL

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
According to Russ Roberts:Annual [opera] admissions are now estimated at 20 million, roughly the same attendance as NFL football games (22 million, including playoffs, in 2006–07).I'm incredulous. How can a hobby enjoyed by me and a few octogenarians be competitive... MORE

The Selfish Reason to Have More Kids: The Book?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
True story: While I was on vacation, I got a phone call from Good Morning, America, asking me to talk about my book, The Selfish Reason to Have More Kids. The main problem, I told them, is that a few... MORE

Discover Your Inner Literalist

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Robin Hanson is his determined literalism. He listens to your exact words, and evaluates your specific statements as true or false. If you want to reach truth, it really helps to have someone like... MORE

Who to Trust?

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes:With one exception, I think there is nothing that the public can look for in terms of a signal about economists. The best thing is to force economists to explain their arguments clearly in layman's terms, and then to... MORE

Conventional Reflections

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My Comic-Con epiphany: Economics doesn't really have superstars. Even if Adam Smith himself showed up at the American Economic Association meetings, he wouldn't have thousands of economists fall on their knees in awe. But that's basically what happened at Comic-Con... MORE

Fabulous Wisdom

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
An omen? Hours before I head down to Comic-Con, I stumbled across a brilliant exchange in Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers. Background: In this Eisner Award-winning series, legendary figures ("Fables") have been exiled from their native lands to the... MORE

The Angst of Economics?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
The New York Magazine profiles Tyler's new book. My favorite part:Cowen’s book does run up against another kind of scarcity. There are not enough economic tricks that distill neatly into interesting advice. When he discusses the techniques for motivating your... MORE

Battlestar Libertopia

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Last week I had a few days on my own, so I decided to try Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica. I'm probably the last geek on earth to take the plunge, and I wasn't disappointed. My verdict: It's a great... MORE

Scott McCloud is often called "the smartest man in comics," but how does he measure up in economics? In his Reinventing Comics, McCloud re-invents the wheel of path-dependence to explain the dominance of superheroes in the American comics industry. McCloud's... MORE

Mea Culpa: How I Succumbed to Anti-Foreign Bias

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
A high fraction of immigrants are young, low-skilled, Hispanic males. Given these demographics, I long assumed that immigrants would have relatively high crime rates. While I kept this problem in perspective, I took it for granted that increased crime was... MORE

My Kind of Democrat

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From the NYT:Representative George Miller, the California Democrat who is chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, said, “Trade may not be the reason, or the number one reason, they’re losing their jobs, but they [the American people] think... MORE

Garett the Gracious

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've known Mormons all my life. I was in a Mormon Cub Scout troop because my best friend was Mormon. One of my best friends in grad school was a Mormon, too. But in 35 years, I'd never (knowingly) met... MORE

Scheve and Slaughter have gotten a lot of attention for their Foreign Affairs piece on "A New Deal for Globalization." They argue that we can squelch popular support for protectionism by making the tax code more progressive:The best way to... MORE

With Rebuttal from Dan Klein?

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Alex's ridicule of the New York Times piece on economists who "oppose the hegemony of free-market economics" is spot-on. Basic fact-checking would have exposed the silliness of this story, which was decisively refuted by Dan Klein and Charlotta Stern a... MORE

The Rational Liberal Minister

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I had a stimulating, well-reasoned interview with noted liberal activist and ordained minister Barry Lynn, host of "Culture Shocks." I continue to be surprised by the bipartisan reaction to my book - has Bush inadvertently opened liberal eyes to the... MORE

I Bet An Austrian

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Austrians have strong philosophical objections to the application of probability theory to most of the real world, but that didn't stop Walter Block from publicly offering to bet at 200:1 odds that Ron Paul will be elected president:Can't happen? Give... MORE

Malevolent Aspirations

Tax Reform
Bryan Caplan
As the Tick might say, this modest proposal from Reihan Salam is "just plain... plain wrong! And no-one should do it, ever!"[T]here is a way to sharply reduce immigration. It just so happens that most of us, on the right... MORE

Freakonomics: The T.V. Series

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Jane Galt doesn't think you could have a good t.v. show about journalists at the Economist:But even if you rely heavily on political or human-interest plotlines, there is no way to make a whole show about journalists work on television.... MORE

Do Voters' Biases Bias Policy?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Daniel Casse's review of my book in today's Wall Street Journal raises an important objection:As an analysis of how far voters are out of step with settled economic thinking, Mr. Caplan's argument seems irrefutable. Yet as a work of political... MORE

Armstrong Answers

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
I emailed Scott Armstrong my questions about his climate change bet, and he graciously responded:The bet is about the size of the forecast errors, not about direction. There are better ways of designing a competition. I had to go for... MORE

A Creative Conspiracy Theory

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
If gas prices go up because of business conspiracies, why do they ever come down? In his Daily Kos review of my book, Dean Nut proposes a staggeringly original explanation - and as far as I can tell, he's serious:If... MORE

Daily Kos Falls Into My Trap

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In yesterday's Daily Kos, Dean Nut criticizes my book as filtered through the Economist's review. It turns out that alleged economic illiteracy is just selfish voting:The Americans who most believe that "the economy is seriously damaged by sending jobs overseas"... MORE

Climate Bet Details

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
Armstrong has just offered Al Gore a $US20,000 ($23,000) bet that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change temperature forecasts are wrong.This passage intrigued me. What counts as "being wrong"? Here's what I learned at the bet's official website:Scott Armstrong of... MORE

Hydrocarbon Pessimism: Get Your Story Straight

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
A sharp post by David Friedman:One argument is that we are running out of hydrocarbons and should therefore reduce our use of hydrocarbons, reduce energy consumption and switch to alternative energy sources. The other argument is that we are, by... MORE

Polygamy Meets Economy

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Even if you think my earlier posts on HBO's Big Love were gratuitous, you can't deny the economic relevance of one of the latest story lines:Bill hears about a new investment opportunity. A slot machine manufacturer wants investors, and doesn't... MORE

I Heart Econ

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Guest blogging at Free Exchange, I answer the charge that Econ is a cult, and end with a hymn of praise:[T]here's nowhere where the grass is greener than in the economics profession. It's far from perfect, but economics is an... MORE

From Di Tella and MacCulloch:A finding that people who perceive corruption to be widespread also want more government regulation would be difficult to explain if regulations were simply facilitating rent extraction by bureaucrats.Is it really so "difficult" to believe that... MORE

Here's the beginning of the abstract from Di Tella and MacCulloch's "Why Doesn't Capitalism Flow to Poor Countries?" (non-gated version here):We find anecdotal evidence suggesting that governments in poor countries have a more left wing rhetoric than those in OECD... MORE

OPEC and Global Warming

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
True or false? "OPEC has done more to reduce global warming than all the world's environmental protection agencies put together." Discuss.... MORE

Conceived in Tribalism

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Here's a puzzling reaction to my doubts about the wonders of American independence:The chief goal of libertarianism is not low taxes or any specific public policy outcome but rather liberty.Actually, the libertarian view is that liberty consists in specific public... MORE

Opposition to Immigration: Get Your Story Straight

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Some opponents of immigration think it benefits the poor at the expense of the rich by increasing support for the welfare state. Other opponents of immigration think it benefits the rich at the expense of the poor by reducing the... MORE

Who Wants More Kids?, Part II

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The GSS asks: "What do you think is the ideal number of children for a family to have?" So who wants more - men or women? Survey says: Women want .05 children more. That's a lot smaller difference than my... MORE

The Wonder That Is Dog

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Richard Dawkins and I have something else in common: We're amazed by dogs:If mutation, rather than selection, really limited evolutionary change, this should be true for artificial no less than natural selection. Domestic breeding relies upon exactly the same pool... MORE

Where Numbers Come From

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong explains the birth of an early pro-NAFTA number:Here's where I state that the "200,000 net jobs projected from NAFTA" number was mine: we took an estimate of overall economic efficiency gains from tariff reductions and an employment elasticity... MORE

Who Wants More Kids?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
It may well be the biggest puzzle in evolutionary psychology: Why do humans have fewer kids when they get richer, when their extra resources allow them to support more? Robin blogs a new explanation from Ted Bergstrom:Because of a genetic... MORE

Beyond the Pale

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw writes:Kinsley and Libby share two, significant characteristics: They are both very smart, and they both care deeply about public policy. I am willing to bet that if they ever sat down over a cup of coffee, they would like... MORE

Taxes, Independence, and Canada

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In response to yesterday's doubts about the benefits of American independence, many commenters emphasized the importance of taxes - and pointed me to the Declaration of Independence. But this doesn't really answer my question: Did the Revolution actually lead to... MORE

The Consequences of Pessimistic Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
For three out of the four biases I discuss in my book, it's easy to see the connection between economic biases and inefficient policies. Anti-market bias leads to under-use of markets. Anti-foreign bias leads to excessive protection, immigration restrictions, etc.... MORE

Independence Day: Any Reason to Celebrate?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Can anyone tell me why American independence was worth fighting for? Most libertarians interpret the Revolutionary War as a libertarian crusade. But when you ask about specific libertarian policy changes that came about because of the Revolution, it's hard to... MORE

Most policies are popular. But I'm almost sure that Virginia's draconian new traffic fines are a counter-example. This part clinched it for me:Although the amount of the tax can add up quickly, the law forbids judges from reducing or suspending... MORE

Patri Friedman on Lott's Cats

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Patri Friedman says that John Lott got his facts on hypoallergenic cats wrong... among other things. Anyone want to take sides?... MORE

Tyler on Tyson's

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
Some pretty reasonable remarks by Tyler about the future of Tyson's Corner provoked a remarkably angry set of comments. When I first moved to Virginia ten years ago, I lived across the street from Tyson's II, and Tyler lived in... MORE

How My Graphic Novel Got Me on C-SPAN

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
True order of events: 1. I put my graphic novel on my webpage. 2. Tyler blogged it. 3. Tim Kane read Tyler's blog and emailed me about our shared interests in economics and comics. Plus he turned out to be... MORE

The Waste of Recycling

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
"Recycling is the philosophy that everything is worth saving except your time" - I still don't know who coined the quip, but I repeat it every chance I get. If that's not enough for you, though, here's Mike Munger on... MORE

What's Wrong with REVENGE?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Dialogue from a hundred interchangeable Law and Order episodes:"You didn't want justice. You wanted revenge!" "The law says 'Thou shalt not kill,' not 'Thou shalt not kill nice people!'"Each time, I'm thinking: "Maybe justice required revenge? Ever think of that?"... MORE

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