Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: August 2005

An Author Archive by Month (24 entries)

Backwards Induction in Oldboy

Game Theory
Bryan Caplan
The latest great fictional depiction of backwards induction is the Korean thriller Oldboy. Not for the faint of heart, but when the villain says (roughly) "You shouldn't have been wondering why I locked you up. You should have been wondering... MORE

The Price of Cold Turkey

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
What does a psychiatrist call it when you pay people to stop consuming alcohol and/or drugs, and run frequent tests to make sure they are holding up their end of the deal? Contingency management. According to "Contingency Management: Incentives for... MORE

Son of Simon

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
In the spirit of the original Simon-Ehrlich bet, people who disagree about the long-run price of oil are putting their money where their mouth is. According to the Laissez-Faire Books blog, energy expert Matthew Simmons has bet NYT columnist John... MORE

Kotlikoff Anecdote

Social Security
Bryan Caplan
Arnold's post on Kotlikoff and Ferguson's proposals for Social Security and health care reform reminds me of a short exchange I had with Kotlikoff in grad school. (I was a Ph.D. student at Princeton, and he was our guest speaker).... MORE

Who Wrote It?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Here's a great quote from one of my two favorite novels: The thought that soothed Rostopchin was not a new one. Since the world began and men have killed one another, no one has committed such an idea without consoling... MORE

Pleased as Punch

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I must gleefully report that I am one of the winners of the 2005 Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, largely for my article "The Economics of Szasz: Preferences, Constraints, and Mental Illness."... MORE

Grades Are So Money

Human Capital: Returns to entrepreneurs, skills, etc.
Bryan Caplan
A Typical Blog rejects my equation of grades and money in my post on pity grading. His main objections, and my replies: 1) 'Merit-based' grades seem to be a lot more merit-based than 'merit-based' wealth. All the students these professors... MORE

A Kingdom for a Frame

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
In response to my framing puzzle post, Tyler Cowen asks: My puzzle is different: why is framing so expensive? The frames are just finished wood, which you could import or buy cheap at a lumber yard. The framing labor is... MORE

Economist's Apprentice, Master Humorist

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Emily Anne, the Economist's Apprentice, has three laugh-out-loud funny posts on housing bubbles, poverty, and subsidized information. No joke!... MORE

General Equilibrium: The Reality Series

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
There is some fascinating economics in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (sorry, not online yet). The article "No Funny Business" explains that the rise of reality tv five years or so ago is just now starting to exert a... MORE

A Framing Puzzle

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Here's a puzzle I'd like to resolve before I teach Industrial Organization again: Why are there so many framing stores? It seems like there is a place that puts your artwork into frames on practically every street corner. According to... MORE

The Economics and Philosophy of Pity Grades

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
More students than I care to remember have argued with me about their grades. But there is one argument that I always dismiss out of hand: "You should raise my grade because I NEED a higher grade!" I don't do... MORE

Profit, Office Politics, and Creativity

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The 1990's cult tv classic Profit just came out on DVD, and everyone who likes economics and has a strong stomach ought to see it. The show could hardly be called pro-market, but the main reason is that it focuses... MORE

Tolstoy and the Great Man Theory

Game Theory
Bryan Caplan
Most historians tell stories in which the decisions of a few Great Men drastically change the fates of millions. Prinzip started World War I by assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Stalin collectivized agriculture, and Hitler ordered the Holocaust. Tolstoy wrote his... MORE

Punk Rock Star Finishes His Thesis - And It's Good, Too!

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My musical discovery of the last two years is the punk rock band Bad Religion. Thirteen CDs, all full of great songs - try Supersonic, Suffer, and the music videos for Los Angeles is Burning and Atomic Garden. More amazing... MORE

Health Care in California: Sick from Economic Illiteracy

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The symptoms: Rapidly rising medical costs and lots of wasteful treatment. The treatment: Crack down health savings accounts! That's the quality of reasoning you get from California's Insurance Commissioner Garamendi. This critique from Richard Ralston of Americans for Free Choice... MORE

Money and Happiness: Double-Check With the GSS

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Arnold and I have a running debate on the connection between material wealth and happiness. He's skeptical of the whole subject; I'm not. He thinks that people's behavior shows that money brings happiness; I've claimed that the standard conclusion that... MORE

Contrarian Like a Conformist

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson is guest blogging this week at Marginal Revolution. In his first post, he explains how he chose his big post-tenure research project: He took the unconventional step of asking other people what they thought, and averaging their responses:... MORE

Economic Illiterates of the Great Depression

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
According to my paper on the idea trap, economic downturns reduce economic literacy. Just when people need their economic common sense the most, they open their hearts to the crackpots. Perhaps the best example is the Great Depression, when every... MORE

Is Homo Economicus A Sociopath?

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
The other day I was reading Martha Stout's The Sociopath Next Door. Although it's engaging, it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. But it did remind me of a question I've wondered about before: Is homo economicus a... MORE

How Constitutions Might Matter

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Many economists hold the view that constitutions don't affect policy. The argument goes roughly like this: "If most people want to do X, no sentence on a musty piece of parchment is going to stop them." Even if this argument... MORE

Debate With Wittman Continues

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The latest issue of Econ Journal Watch features the second round of my debate with Donald Wittman. Here's me; here's Wittman.... MORE

Building a Better Llama

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok's llama statue reminds me of an argument by Jared Diamond that no longer convinces me. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond forcefully argues that an important reason Eurasia was more economically successful than the rest of the world... MORE

Another Take on What's Wrong With Economics

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Not only do I disagree with Arnold's views on the self-interest and rationality assumptions; it also looks like Arnold disagrees with Arnold! In the past, Arnold has expressed a lot of sympathy for my view that systematically mistaken economic beliefs... MORE

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