Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: August 2008

An Author Archive by Month (34 entries)

A Deeper Look at Economic Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Economists and the public systematically disagree; but can they at least agree about which problems are bigger than others? To check, I returned to the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy. (Yes, I do talk about this survey... MORE

Public Opinion About Trade in the Muslim World

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
A new World Public Opinion survey of Muslims in seven nations finds that solid majorities favor globalization and trade:Asked about "globalization, especially the increasing connections of our economy with others around the world," majorities in six of the seven nations... MORE

Mining Mill

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to Gerald Gaus' critique of The Myth of the Rational Voter (part of a full forthcoming issue of Critical Review on the book), I've discovered a fun passage from one of my least-favorite thinkers, J.S. Mill. I knew that... MORE

Fear of Looking Rich Redux

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A while back I questioned Robin Hanson's view that virtually everyone wants to imitate the rich in order to raise their status. Robin recently told me that he's "updated," so I'll stop calling it "Robin Hanson's view." But I still... MORE

Since people are starting to respond to my actual six questions, I thought I'd return the favor: Questions: 1. Are markets for ideas/culture less subject to market failure than other markets? Why or why not? For pure entertainment, probably yes.... MORE

The Myth of the Rational Voter Now in Paperback

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
The paperback version of my book is now in stock at Amazon, for the low low price of $12.21. It's got a new introduction, including a reply to several prominent reviews. I think my favorite is my response to Daniel... MORE

Questions for Civil Libertarian Economists

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Virtually all free-market economists are civil libertarians, staunch advocates of freedom of speech, religion, and the like. But in my experience, virtually all economists who eschew the "free-market" label are civil libertarians, too. Economists disagree about whether laissez-faire is the... MORE

Are Refineries Really a Bottleneck?

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
When I was writing my New York Times column on the gas tax, my editor pushed me to argue that other economists were underestimating the price-sensitivity of the supply of gasoline. I resisted. A wide range of economists seemed to... MORE

Raise Your Standards, Control Yourself

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Happiness researchers often advise us to follow the Epicurean strategy of lowering our expectations. To quote Tsunami Bomb:Be grateful that you have a brain for thinking, And legs to take you places.But suppose your problem is that you're overweight because... MORE

Hail Scott Adams

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you haven't heard, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has commissioned a survey of professional economists. His explicit hope is to raise the quality of policy:So how does a voter decide which candidate would be best for the economy? [...]... MORE

Remembering '68

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
It's the 40th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Many Czechs and Slovaks remember, but here's a shocking factoid:In a 2006 visit to the Czech capital, then-president Vladimir Putin expressed Russia's 'moral responsibility' for crushing the Prague Spring. However,... MORE

Is Arnold Getting Happy?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I was surprised to hear Arnold say:The way to make yourself really miserable is to compare your salary to that of the most overpaid, incompetent peer or superior. The way to make yourself feel really good is to compare your... MORE

In Defense of the Obvious

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Writing instructors often attack the use of the words "obvious," "of course," and the like. "If it's 'obvious,'" they mock, "then don't say it!" But giving up these words is easier said than done. I can't imagine giving an econ... MORE

How Schooling is Like Garbage Collection

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Schooling has a high private financial return. But most people don't finish college; many don't even finish high school. Lots of economists are baffled by these facts, and spin complex theories to explain them. At the same time, however, I've... MORE

Let Immigration Be My Hammer

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I'm a big fan of immigration, and an old saying warns us that, "If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." So you might be inclined to chuckle if I promoted immigration as a cure for... MORE

Charles Murray's Solution to Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
It looks like Charles Murray embraces the signaling model of education:Outside a handful of majors -- engineering and some of the sciences -- a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual... MORE

The Anti-Hansonian Heuristic

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
I often disagree with people who know more about a given topic than I do. For example, the typical economist who works in Industrial Organization is familiar with a lot more current antitrust research than I am. Robin Hanson notwithstanding,... MORE

How Evil is that Sheep?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
And in any policy debate, I don't assume that the people on my side intellectually are somehow morally superior or more honest. In any particular case I usually give that 50-50. --Tyler Cowen, July 31, 2008 This essay is not... MORE

Kids, Opera, and Local Status

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Rich families are once again having lots of kids (see here, here, and here). From Time:While 34.3% of married women ages 40 to 44 had four or more children in 1976, only 11.5% did in 2004, according to the Current... MORE

There's No Evidence Like No Evidence

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's an especially wise observation by David Balan:So then I asked him whether by "no evidence" he meant that there have been lots of studies directly on this point which came back with the result that more chemo doesn't help,... MORE

Optimal Citation in the Google Age

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
One of the best examples of path-dependence is the format of academic citations. Who cares what city a book was published in? Who ever did? But in the google age, tradition is even sillier. Volume numbers? Page numbers? These days,... MORE

Tom Strong, Compelling Coasean Comics Character

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
With The Watchman movie coming out in March, you're going to be hearing an awful lot about the writing of Alan Moore. Despite all the publicity, though, his lesser-known Tom Strong series won't be getting much attention. And that's a... MORE

The Right Reaction to Bubbles: Easy Come, Easy Go

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
First it was the dot-com bubble. Now it's real estate. In ten years, it will be something else. In each case, the price of a major asset goes way up for no good reason, then comes back down. In each... MORE

The Secret of Good Games

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Next week, I'll be in Indianapolis for GenCon, the world's biggest gaming convention. Which reminds me of one of my pet theories: The best games are inter-disciplinary, combining economics and psychology. Games of pure strategic reasoning like chess are dry.... MORE

Hummel on Central Banking

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
Hummel follows up on my post on the (relative) efficiency of modern central banks:Here are my three reasons, given somewhat sporadically in my lecture, for the better performance of central banks in developed countries since the 1980s: 1. Highly developed... MORE

Antitrust for Hong Kong?

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
When the Lion Rock Institute asked me to sign its petition against possible antitrust laws for Hong Kong, the decision was a no-brainer. After all, I oppose antitrust laws. At best, antitrust laws are unnecessary, legislating outcomes that free competition... MORE

Scott Page Makes Diversity Respectable

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Confession: When Scott Page's book The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies came out, I assumed it would be a flabby, politically correct snooze-fest. Since I don't like flabby, politically correct snooze-fests, I... MORE

Gelman's Graphical Treat

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman, King of Charts and Graphs, and author of Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State, has prepared an exclusive set of statistical pictures just for Econlog readers. Gelman's graph shows CNN's exit poll data, broken down by... MORE

Gelman's Great Book

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman has turned his eagle-eyed research on the American voter into an excellent book, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. (The book's website is here). If you ever doubted the value of empirical research, this book will... MORE

Two Talks on Voter Irrationality

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Two of my best book presentations are now online. Here's a serious, scholarly version (video) at the Coll├Ęge de France. Here's a funny, popular version (audio only) at the Foundation for Economic Education. Or at least the first is what... MORE

Two weeks ago, I relayed the following story:Yesterday at the FEE seminar, I got to hear the excellent Jeff Hummel thoroughly debunk the crazy Rothbardian view that fractional reserve banking is "fraudulent." It was a fun (and funny) lecture, but... MORE

The Best of Solzhenitsyn

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's passing reminds me of my favorite passage from his writings:But let us be generous. We will not shoot them. We will not pour salt water into them, nor bury them in bedbugs, nor bridle them up into a... MORE

Should You Lose Sleep Over Global Catastrophic Risks?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I've finished the Bostrom-Cirkovic edited volume on Global Catastrophic Risks. The book is a fun read, but it ultimately failed to scare me - and I'm the author of one of the chapters! Out of a long list of conceivable... MORE

The Demand for Ectogenesis

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Ectogenesis basically means the creation of new human life without pregnancy. Instead of incubating the fetus in a mother's womb, there'd be an artificial incubation tank. Prospective parents would go through the first stages of in vitro fertilization; but instead... MORE

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