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Bryan Caplan: July 2013

An Author Archive by Month (21 entries)

Nudge, Policy, and the Endowment Effect

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Last week, Maxim Lott solicited my thoughts on Obama's "nudge team."  Here's what I would have told him if I hadn't been on vacation:"Nudging" is a great idea.  We should start by ending existing hard paternalism in favor of gentle... MORE

Guess Who's Second-Guessing

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
A single-issue website laments:It is just depressing to witness academics confining the discussion of complex issues within the parameters of pre-existing public opinion. What's the point of possessing vast knowledge of any subject if one chooses to then limit themselves... MORE

Meta-Measuring Signaling

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Tyler has probably just posted his best piece on educational signaling ever.  Unfortunately, I leave for vacation today, so I won't write a detailed response.  My quick take: Tyler now tacitly admits the force of many of my arguments, so... MORE

Four Big Facts About Hiring and IQ

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Many economists seem to think that IQ-based hiring is effectively illegal in the U.S.  O'Keefe and Vedder are two prominent voices, but plenty of mainstream labor economists say the same.  The more I read about this topic, though, the more... MORE

Gintis on the Evolution of Private Property

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Herb Gintis' "The Evolution of Private Property" (Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2007) is one of the most fascinating articles I've read in years. (ungated draft)  I'm slightly jealous because I've planned to write a similar piece for a... MORE

Vegetarianism and Moral Self-Deception

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Vegetarianism is plagued by apostates as well as hypocrites:[A]ccording to a 2005 survey by CBS News, three times as many American adults admit to being "ex-vegetarians" than describe themselves as current vegetarians. This suggests that roughly 75% of people who... MORE

Vegetarianism and Social Desirability Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Economists love to dismiss surveys: "You can't believe what people say.  You have to look at what they actually do."  Yet we rarely bother to actually demonstrate the unreliability of surveys.  Economists may be pleased to know, then, that two... MORE

Betting Therapy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A great practical idea from Eliezer Yudkowsky:Betting Therapy" should be a thing. You go to a betting therapist and describe your fears - everything you're afraid will happen if you do X - and then the therapist offers to bet... MORE

Misapplying Citizenism?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Check out my new guest post on Open Borders.  I expect it to provoke considerable anger, but critics should read my exact words.  I chose them carefully, and did my best to avoid giving undue offense.  In any case, please... MORE

Tyler's Breakdown

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Today Tyler has a lengthy reply to my Twitter challenge:Would you state your human capital/ability bias/signaling point estimates using my typology?Unfortunately, Tyler gets off track almost immediately:[Bryan] does not clearly define the denominator there: is it percentage of what you... MORE

Economics at the University of Chicago is no longer very different from economics at other top programs.  What happened?  The proximate cause was lack of a strong instinct of memetic self-preservation.  The ultimate cause, though, was that the Chicago School... MORE

Althaus on War and Informed Opinion

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Sam Wilson's results on war and income don't surprise me, but I think Art is misinterpreting them.  Income is a decent proxy for political knowledge, and Scott Althaus ably summarizes the subtleties of political knowledge and foreign policy in his... MORE

The Roots of Signaling Denial

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The signaling model of education fits first-hand experience.  It fits the psychology of learning.  It explains otherwise very puzzling facts like the sheepskin effect.  There are few theories in economics harder to doubt.  But many economists continue to do so. ... MORE

The Mosquito Bite Analogy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Free-market economists often lament the difficulty of communicating their ideas to a popular audience.  Why?  Because the free-market prescription is often, "Government should leave the problem alone.  Trying to fix it only makes it worse."  How is anyone supposed to... MORE

The Silence of the Bets

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Last week's post on "Bets, Portfolios, and Belief Revelation" sparked a long list of responses: Tyler (here, here, plus a ton on Twitter), Alex, Robin, Eli Dourado, and more.  Adam Gurri kindly aggregates here.  The quick version of my view:... MORE

In Case of Revolution, Climb Into a Hole

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
In 1968, Abbie Hoffman published Revolution for the Hell of It.  Five years later, this silly title inspired David Friedman to include a chapter called "Revolution Is the Hell of It" in his Machinery of Freedom.  I remember Friedman's words... MORE

Statism for Freedom

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Libertarians' odd openness to using immigration restrictions to protect American freedom has me thinking.  There are many statist policies that could indirectly lead to more libertarian policy.  If you're open to one, you... MORE

Two decades ago, I spent my summer writing my first academic article.  Topic: "The Literature of Nonviolent Resistance and Civilian-Based Defense" (Humane Studies Review, 1994).  I'm still happy with the result.  The piece begins by noting that conservatives' prognosis for... MORE

Don Boudreaux thoughtfully discusses the putative political externalities of immigration, then ends on a pessimistic note:I have no illusions (I really and truly do not) that anything that I write here, or that I might write in follow-up posts or... MORE

Bets, Portfolios, and Belief Revelation

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Adam Ozimek just reminded me that I still need to refute the Tyler Cowen/Noah Smith view that "portfolios reveal beliefs, bets reveal personality traits and public posturing."  Smith's version:It's a mistake that most people make (myself often included!), and that... MORE

Why Don't Dying Firms Raise Prices?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
"Demand is more elastic in the long-run than the short-run."  It's a textbook truism.  Implication: Raising prices is often a bad idea even if profits instantly rise.  In the long-run, demand will get more elastic, and the price-gouging firm will... MORE

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