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Bryan Caplan: January 2015

An Author Archive by Month (23 entries)

Lawson's Economic Freedom Bet

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
In the face of Jeff Sachs' challenge, Bob Lawson proposes a bet on economic freedom:"Dear Tyler, I read with obvious interest your post (and the paper itself) about the endogeneity of institutions. Leaving aside my issues with the IV literature,... MORE

Voltaire Reconsidered

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Voltaire never actually said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  But Voltaire would probably embrace this line - just like legions of other smart, well-meaning people.  Interpreted poetically,... MORE

The Lone Collectivist

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When you're a normal member of your society, the appeal of collectivism is easy to understand.  Most people believe what you believe and enjoy what you enjoy.  So wouldn't it be great if society as a whole continuously celebrated your... MORE

The Bolshevik Czar

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
From Stephen Kotkin's new Stalin:Peasant expectations of a total land redistribution were intense, and the wartime tsarist government had helped spur them, confiscating land from ethnic Germans living in imperial Russia, which was supposed to be redistributed to valiant Russia... MORE

Foreigner Day

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson proposed a Capital Day to complement Labor Day. In that spirit, I suggest a Foreigner Day to complement the world's ubiquitous National Days and Independence Days.  Here's how Robin explains the point of Capital Day:[J]ust as on Labor... MORE

More on the Modality of Monogamy

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Tyler:I say both men and women are understating their number of sexual partners.  Contrary to what is portrayed in this chart, I postulate an American male average of about four.  I do not agree with the common claim that American... MORE

The Modality of Monogamy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
After running last week's abortion regressions, I looked at the General Social Survey's histograms for reported numbers of sexual partners.  They're weird.  Here are the distributions of opposite-sex partners for men and women.Figure 1: Men's Reported Lifetime Number of Opposite-Sex... MORE

The Sheepskin Nightmare

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Have you ever dreamed that you're suddenly one class, credit, final exam, or semester short of graduation?  Many people, myself included, have this recurring nightmare.  There a whole reddit on it.  A typical case:I've had this kind of dream very... MORE

Against Recent Events

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
There are many tell-tale signs of a demagogue.  Perhaps the clearest, though, is when someone states the words, "Recent events show X."  Which recent events?  Virtually any recent events!  Yes, every century has a few mighty outliers that sway the... MORE

What Are You Saying, Scott Aaronson?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Scott Aaronson's effort to mediate the virtual war between feminists and nerds has gotten a lot of attention.  But only a handful of people have remarked on a rather strange belief Aaronson has avowed:I believe there still exist men who think women... MORE

The Pigovian Minarchist Tax Formula

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Glen Whitman sees a big hole in my Pigovian minarchist tax idea.  He's in blockquotes, I'm not. Pigovian taxes on genuine negative externalities are definitely better than other kinds of tax as a means of funding government, inasmuch as they... MORE

The Pigovian Minarchist

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Many minarchists, most notably Ayn Rand, believe their minimal state should be funded by voluntary taxation.  As Rand puts it:In a fully free society, taxation--or, to be exact, payment for governmental services--would be voluntary. Since the proper services of a... MORE

Correction on Abortion

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
[Update: Sam Wilson weighs in.]The noble Sam Wilson pointed out a problem with this morning's abortion regressions.  My dependent variable, ABORTION, was constructed by another GSS user.  This user coded people who weren't asked about abortion as "no's."  The true... MORE

How Selfish Are Our Views About Abortion?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
[Update: Since I wrote this post, Weeden re-did some of his results - including his abortion results - controlling for ideology.  I leave judgment to the reader.][Further Update: I didn't notice that the abortion opinion measure I was using coded... MORE

Rejoinder to Weeden

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
[Update: This post originally claimed that Americans keep 97% of their pretax income for themselves, which is impossible given taxes.  I meant to say that Americans only donate 3% of their pretax income.  Thanks to Ross Levatter for the correction].During... MORE

Freewheelers, Ring-Bearers, and Self-Interest

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Weeden and Kurzban's The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind uses two ideal types to explain the Culture Wars: Freewheelers and Ring-Bearers.Freewheelers include people who sleep with more people, are sexually active outside of committed relationships, have more same-sex partners,... MORE

Some Replies to Me

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
While I'm on vacation in L.A., my critics have been hard at work.  Check out:1. Jason Weeden's reply to my review of The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind.2. Nathan Smith's reply to my defense of tolerance.3. Jason Weeden's reply... MORE

Plus Noise!

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
One lovable thing about Weeden and Kurzban's The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind: When they criticize me, they also quietly hand readers my rebuttal.  Them:Economist Bryan Caplan in his book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, asserted (with his... MORE

Intelligence Makes People Think Like Economists: Further Evidence

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Caplan and Miller's finding that "intelligence makes people think like economists" (published in 2010, but largely written in 2006) is holding up well.  A mini literature review, courtesy of Duarte, Crawford, Stern, Haidt, Jussim, and Tetlock:[T[he observed relationship between intelligence... MORE

Conspiracy Theory: The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Does self-interest explain individuals' political views?  Surprisingly, political science's standard answer is No. While self-interest occasionally plays a role, it poorly predicts both issue positions and voting behavior.  Unlike most economists, I strongly endorse political scientists' consensus.  Their research doesn't... MORE

In the comments, the admirable Scott Alexander responds to my advice to Shy Male Nerds.  I reply point-by-point.  Scott's in blockquotes, I'm not.Even on the purely academic/intellectual level, this [Caplan's Bubble stategy] is difficult. I have got a bunch of... MORE

Diversity of the Mind

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A bunch of my favorite social scientists, including Philip Tetlock, Jonathan Haidt, Lee Jussim, and Charlotta Stern, have co-authored an amazing article on the scarcity and value of political diversity in social psychology*, forthcoming in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.  Full... MORE

Shy Male Nerds and the Bubble Strategy

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Scott Alexander keeps writing intellectually powerful critiques of radical feminism's War on Shy Male Nerds (SMNs).  His latest:When feminists say that the market failure for young women is caused by slut-shaming, I stop slut-shaming, and so do most other decent... MORE

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