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Bryan Caplan: December 2014

An Author Archive by Month (17 entries)

The Evidence of Altruism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Economists are notorious for emphasizing the selfishness of human motives.  The immortal words of Adam Smith are the gateway drug:It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from... MORE

The Meaning of Tolerance

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I'm a fan of tolerance.  But Nathan Smith, one of the smartest people I've ever taught, is not.  Nathan:As for tolerance, it is subject to this paradox: that a society cannot be tolerant without being intolerant of intolerance. To see... MORE

The Competitive Sieve and the Burden of Proof

Industrial Organization
Bryan Caplan
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 A great quote, from someone you wouldn't expect.  Your guesses in the comments.Competition is like water held in a sieve.  To argue that competition does not exist because it is absent somewhere is... MORE

Why Florida Is My Favorite State

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Greg Mankiw wonders why Florida is my favorite state.  I'm happy to answer, but must begin with a methodological preamble.In a revealed preference sense, everyone's "favorite state" almost has to be wherever he resides.  If I really preferred Florida to... MORE

Outsourced to Scott Alexander

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I read a ton of old Scott Alexander posts while vacationing in Florida.  I was pleased to discover many topics I don't need to address, because Scott's already explained my views better than I could explain them myself.  Choice selections:1.... MORE

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: Recap

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Everything I've written about The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, my favorite book this year:1. The thesis.2. We owe civilization to fossil fuels.3. We can live with warming.4. Refining the case.The book's a great Christmas present, all the way down... MORE

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: Refining the Case

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels is the best book I've read all year, and makes a great holiday gift.  But there's still room for improvement.1. Epstein centers his moral case around "human life as the standard of value."  This... MORE

The Man of One Study

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Another great piece by Scott Alexander:So here's why you should beware the man of one study. If you go to your better class of alternative medicine websites, they don't tell you "Studies are a logocentric phallocentric tool of Western medicine... MORE

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: We Can Live With Warming

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Rolling Stone (ahem) includes Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, on its list of top "global warming deniers."  Epstein:[T]hose who dispute catastrophic global warming are accused of denying the greenhouse effect and global warming. I experienced... MORE

The Inanity of the Welfare State

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
When most people stare at this table (courtesy of Greg Mankiw), they see strong evidence that the U.S. tax system is highly progressive.If you calmly peruse the table, however, a stranger pattern emerges - a pattern neither liberals nor conservatives... MORE

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: We Owe Civilization to Fossil Fuels

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
According to this popular cartoon, getting rid of fossil fuels is a free lunch.The wise will roll their eyes at this wishful thinking.  But no one exposes its sheer absurdity better than Alex Epstein in The Moral Case for Fossil... MORE

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels: The Thesis

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
When Alex Epstein's The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels arrived in my mailbox, I expected it to be bad.  For two reasons:1. In my experience, readable books about climate change usually just demagogically preach to the choir.2. I correctly surmised... MORE

An Awkward Question About Blurred Consent

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've repeatedly heard two claims about rape:1. False accusations are extremely rare.2. Consent to sex is often "blurred."Many people seem to believe both claims.  But can they both be true?  If consent is frequently unclear, then whether a person... MORE

Krugman's Cursory Case Against Open Borders

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Paul Krugman exemplifies the standard progressive position on immigration.  He strongly supports amnesty for existing illegal immigrants, but strongly opposes open borders.  His case for amnesty is not novel:[T]oday's immigrants are the same, in aspiration and behavior, as my grandparents... MORE

Rape Culture or Nationalist Culture?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Mild Fury spoilers]The idea that the modern U.S. is a "rape culture" has always struck me as ridiculous.  I've never met a person who claimed to have raped anyone.  I don't know anyone who intellectually defends rape.  I don't... MORE

Who to Fear

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
While writing The Case Against Education's section on education and crime, I came across an interesting FBI table on victim/perpetrator demographics for homicide.  "Homicides" includes murder and manslaughter, but excludes "justifiable killings" by authorities or private citizens.First, the racial breakdown... MORE

The Puzzling Idealism of the Geneva Convention

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I recently read the 1929 Geneva Convention for the first time.  The terms are shocking.  It's almost as if a quixotic pacifist deliberately wrote the agreement to ban war by stealth.  It begins with typical high-sounding diplomatic rhetoric:  Art. 2.... MORE

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