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Bryan Caplan: February 2015

An Author Archive by Month (20 entries)

Totally Conventional Views Which I Hold

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
As soon as Tyler posted his "Totally Conventional Views Which I Hold," I felt the urge to do the same.  In no particular order:1. Most academics are out of touch with the real world and have little useful to say... MORE

The once-true stereotype that illegal immigrants get deported, not imprisoned, is fast becoming obsolete.  But there is a glimmer of hope.  Open borders activists aren't the only people who care about this issue.  The ACLU in particular is taking a... MORE

Purges and Schisms

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I wrote this in 1993.  Still seems correct to me, and unfortunately it's as relevant as ever.Purges and SchismsWhen I was working this summer at the Institute for Humane Studies, I spent many hours reading old libertarian periodicals -- especially... MORE

Who Cares About Park Yeon-mi

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
At the 2015 Students for Liberty conference, my sons and I were privileged to hear North Korean defector Park Yeon-mi share her story of self-liberation from totalitarian oppression.  But her talk got me thinking.  On the surface, there is nothing... MORE

Why Pack for the Same Trip Twice?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Travelers often repeatedly visit the same family members, the same friends.  Each visit normally requires two packing sessions: You pack the stuff you'll need, then repack the stuff you brought.  Each leg takes time and energy, and possibly - depending... MORE

Both Men and Women Overstate Sexual Frequency

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Many readers were incredulous when I pointed out that in the General Social Survey, the modal number of self-reported lifetime sexual partners equals 1.  Given the stereotype that men overstate and women understate on these matters, the pattern is solid:... MORE

Signaling in K-12

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Whenever I write, "Education is mostly signaling," many readers hear "Higher education is mostly signaling."  I'm sincerely puzzled by this subliminal defanging of The Case Against Education.  My K-12 memories include thousands of hours studying material I knew I'd never... MORE

Signaling Tension

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Josh Barro shined his spotlight on signaling last week:How many of the people talking down college as "mostly signaling" learned about signaling in a college economics class?-- Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 13, 2015I could be wrong about Barro's intent,... MORE

Always Keep Your Eye on Production: A Wartime Priority

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
When they're in major wars, governments often seem to suddenly discover my "Always keep your eye on production" principle.  Case in point: During the New Deal, Team Roosevelt eagerly pushed militant unionization, using now-standard arguments about the hidden economic benefits. ... MORE

Always Keep Your Eye on Production

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
As a child, I was a bad baseball player because my mind wandered.  Adults and teammates tried to improve my performance with a classic adage: "Always keep your eye on the ball."  I didn't change, but their advice was excellent... MORE

Happy Presidents Day

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My former student Daniel Lin, professor at American University, is easily the funniest economist I know.  If you're not following him on Twitter, you should be.  The latest example of his hilarious insightfulness:  In honor of Presidents Day, I'm going... MORE

The Basics: A Socratic Dialogue

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Glaucon: Guess what?  I'm writing a book about moral philosophy!Socrates: Cool.  What do you say? Glaucon: I'm a pragmatist. We should do whatever maximizes human welfare.Socrates: So the main point of the book is to advocate open borders? Glaucon: No,... MORE

The Hansonian Moralist

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've repeatedly criticized my dear friend Robin Hanson's subordination of morality to the view he calls "dealism."  Not only is the doctrine absurd.  It also fails on its own terms because Robin's proposed deals consistently fail the market test.  Indeed,... MORE

Revolution: Two Minimal Conditions

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Here's an extremely tempting argument for violent revolution:1. The existing government is tyrannical, as evidenced by a giant list of specific, well-documented, horrifying crimes against humanity.2. It is our right, if not our sacred duty, to overthrow tyranny.3. Tyrannies usually... MORE

ISIS and Reproach

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When historians write the history of ISIS, they will probably treat it as part of the aftermath of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.  But they should also closely connect it to the Arab Spring.  Without the Arab Spring, an internecine... MORE

Environmental Econ Textbook Bleg

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
What's the best undergraduate environmental econ textbook?  Constraints:1. It has to be engaging enough to hold the attention of someone who isn't taking an environmental econ course.2. It should have decent empirics on the cost-savings of taxes and tradable permits... MORE

Tetlock and Counter-factual History

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
I've long been fond of counter-factual history.  Like: If Prinzip hadn't assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, North Korea wouldn't be a Communist dictatorship.  Or: If Lenin had died in early 1917, the Communists wouldn't have taken over Russia, and the Nazis... MORE

Smith's Benevolent Baker Quote, in Song

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
All good economists love the Adam Smith quote about the baker:But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more... MORE

The Ubiquity of Useless Learning, in Song

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
You've got a love a rap video that ends with, "If you can't explain why a subject is applicable to most people's lives, that subject should not be mandatory."HT: Jason Arentz... MORE

The Environmental Continuum: Reply to Alex Epstein

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, replies to my criticism and questions over at Forbes.com.  Overall, I'm dissatisfied with his responses.  Here's why, point by point.  Alex is in blockquotes, I'm not.  I'll address some of... MORE

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