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Bryan Caplan: November 2007

An Author Archive by Month (32 entries)

Did I Miss My Decade?

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I gave a talk for GMU TV (pre-recorded; not sure when it will broadcast). My host declared that I would have made a "great '60s radical" and compared me to reading Eldridge Cleaver. The big message of my book,... MORE

Six Months of Intellectual Anthropology

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Tyler makes a spot-on plea to meet people before you write about them:I'd like to propose a new research convention. Anytime a writer or blogger talks about what The Right or The Left (or some subset thereof) really wants or... MORE

Senator X's Amazing Letter to Me

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Earlier this month, I received the most amazing feedback yet on my book. A successful politician wrote me the following letter. I reprint it, redacted, with his explicit permission. (If you find the inline version too hard to read, here's... MORE

Did MAD Work - Or Did We Just Get Lucky?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I think it's obvious that the Soviet Union was a vastly greater threat to the U.S. than Islamic terrorism will ever be. But some readers don't agree; in their view, the practice of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) meant that, in... MORE

Two Rothbardian Reductios

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Despite his army of detractors, Murray Rothbard was a master of the reductio ad absurdum. In Power and Market, he out-did even Bastiat:Suppose that Jones has a farm, “Jones’ Acres,” and Smith works for him. Having become steeped in protariff... MORE

Why Did So Many Libertarians Support the War?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
When the Washington Times announced that libertarianism is trendy, I couldn't help but think "It would be a lot trendier if libertarians had been against the Iraq War from the start." Plenty of libertarians were against it, of course. But... MORE

Who wouldn't want to see Tyler Cowen publicly debate Robin Hanson? Well, aside from the masses? I think they'd both be willing, if they could only pinpoint a good topic. A while back they had an extended blog dialogue (see... MORE

A Fertile Criticism of Happiness Research?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's the childless-by-choice Lionel Shriver, in Maybe Baby:[A] recent New York Times Magazine article cited research documenting that while marriage makes people on average happier, parenthood makes them less so. And you'd think that someone like me would seize on... MORE

Voting, Vote-Selling, and Externalities

Public Goods
Bryan Caplan
Philosopher Michael Sandel asked Greg Mankiw whether people should be allowed to sell their votes. Mankiw's answer:[T]he standard argument for unfettered voluntary exchange does not apply because there are externalities. That is, when one person sells his vote to another,... MORE

If You'd Listened to Me, You'd Be Happy About the Falling Dollar

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Two years ago I denounced home country bias, people's propensity to invest solely in their own country's assets. International diversification is a free lunch in terms of mean-variance efficiency, but most of us pass on it. As Karen Lewis explains:Indeed,... MORE

Blogging When I Should Have Been Betting

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Last year I argued that AIDS estimates were inflated. Now the UN has cut its estimate of the number infected by 40%. This is getting to be a pattern! HT: Tyler (who once said I was dead wrong about this...)... MORE

Academic Corruption Index?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Some countries are more corrupt than others: Haiti is not Finland. Measures like the Corruption Perceptions Index attempt to quantify these differences. Some academic disciplines are more bogus than others: Women's Studies is not Mathematics. But as far as I... MORE

Sigmund Freud Meets Jack Bauer

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The modern world's most prominent proponent of torture has to be 24's Jack Bauer. How many fictional lives has he saved by bringing on the pain? But let's not give Bauer too much credit. He's building on the shoulders of... MORE

$1 for the Hands of Victory?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Esquire features a fascinating story in pictures: The seven wonders of the totalitarian world. This article reminds me that it's time to renew my call to privatize Lenin's mummy. I wish I could make the same suggestion for the other... MORE

5 Miles of Economic Illiteracy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I spoke at the University of Virginia's Miller Center (video coming to local PBS in about two weeks) as well as its Department of Economics. The cost: I had to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7 AM.... MORE

Julian Simon Moment of the Day

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
The 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States lists death rates per 100,000 population. The 1951 Statistical Abstract of the United States lists death rates per 1000 population. When you look at the numbers, it's easy to see why. Back... MORE

Asian Development Bank Says I'm Right About China

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I recently doubted that the Chinese economy lives up to its reputation. Now the Financial Times says that the Asian Development Bank is backing me up:In a little-noticed mid-summer announcement, the Asian Development Bank presented official survey results indicating China’s... MORE

Tolstoy, the Clarkian

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Greg Clark thinks labor quality is vital for economic growth. I'm skeptical - it's easy to believe that American labor is twice as productive as Somalian labor, but not 70 times. Still, while re-reading Anna Karenina, I couldn't help but... MORE

Is Gender a Big Deal?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Many psychologists embrace the "gender similarities hypothesis" - the view that we tend to overstate the differences between men and women. My colleague Garett Jones pointed out a thorough meta-analysis by Janet Hyde, claiming that - with the exceptions of... MORE

Free Economic Advice for Joe Matt?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Seth: You should try working for a living! I've got six illustration jobs waiting at home for me and they're all due by the end of the week! Joe: Yeah, well... maybe if you tried saving your money like me,... MORE

Selling Self-Control: Will It Take Off?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've previously argued that much - perhaps most - talk about "self-control" problems reflects social desirability bias rather than genuine inner conflict:Part of the reason why people who spend a lot of time and money on socially disapproved behaviors say... MORE

Neuro-Platitudinous

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
If you want to publish obvious results, it really helps to scan some brains first. Case in point: "This is Your Brain on Politics," an op-ed in Sunday's NYT:In anticipation of the 2008 presidential election, we used functional magnetic resonance... MORE

Rojas Bleg

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Fabio Rojas is looking for:[Z]ip code level data from 2004/2005 that has:demography: gender, age, race, SES, occupation. Other stuff (like family structure or housing) would be a plus. political behavior: party ID + 2004 presidential vote would be more than... MORE

Caplanians in the Ivy League?

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
I still remember when I was an undergraduate and Bill Dickens taught me how to pronounce "Mankiw." (That's MAN-KYOO to you.) I never would have believed that one day he'd be turning my name into an adjective:The public tends to... MORE

More than one attendee at the Social Philosophy and Policy conference voiced dismay over David Horowitz's promotion of the Academic Bill of Rights. A typical plank:Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should reflect the uncertainty and... MORE

What Philosophy Needs: A Strong Dose of Hanson

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson and I have our fair share of philosophical disagreements. But the longer I stayed at the Social Philosophy and Policy conference, the more I kept thinking, "These people desperately need a strong dose of Hanson." To be specific:... MORE

Experimental Game Theory at HeroCon

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you want to role-play and study social science at the same time, don't miss this weekend's HeroCon in Glen Burnie, Maryland. (FYI: This is a convention for the Hero System role-playing game, not the NBC show Heroes). Admittedly, there... MORE

Watson on Summers: From Strange to Baffling

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
After Nobel prize-winner James Watson publicized his views on African IQ, there was an angry backlash. Before long, he took most of it back and begged forgiveness. If this sounds familiar, it should; the same thing happened when Larry Summers... MORE

What Are Philosophers Experts At?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Recently Tyler Cowen publicized one of his periodic challenges to me:I often joke with Bryan that the time has come for him to accept the consensus of what the experts in moral philosophy (or atonal music) tell us (him) to... MORE

Reflection #1 inspired by the Social Philosophy and Policy conference: In academic economics, the ultimate scarce good is the right to write pieces in plain English for top journals. We ration it by putting economists famous for their mathematical and... MORE

Make Democracy Work for Once: Vote EconTalk

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
EconTalk, the podcasting sister of Econlog run by the noble Russ Roberts, has been nominated for a 2007 Weblog award. Vote here, and may the best podcaster win.... MORE

Easy Essay Money

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
The blogosphere has honed your writing skills; now it's time to cash in. Here's two more essay contests to try:2007-08 APEE Essay Contest on the Benefits of a Free Market EconomyIHS Essay Contest for Undergraduate StudentsI'd like to see the... MORE

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