Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: October 2007

An Author Archive by Month (38 entries)

Where I'll Be... If I Really Exist

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm off to the inter-disciplinary Social Philosophy and Policy conference on "Aggregation in Moral and Political Philosophy." What makes the conference interdisciplinary? Me! Yep, it's 14 philosophers and one economist. Still, if I return wondering if I'm a brain in... MORE

The Rojas Effect

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
For Halloween, here's the true, spooky story of how I met Fabio Rojas: In the Fall of 1989, young Rojas, a freshman at UC Berkeley, was assigned the roommate from hell. (No, not me!) The roommate was emotionally abusive and... MORE

Just Plain Good: From Black Power to Black Studies by Fabio Rojas

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I never would have expected to enjoy a book about black studies, especially one that refrains from pointed criticism of the field. But things don't always work out as I expect. Yes, I've got a confession to make: I really... MORE

Me Versus the Economic Consensus

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen has a challenge for me:Dan's key point is that you, in fact, differ radically from the professional consensus (as Arnold writes as well) and that the argument is self-undercutting if you simultaneously erect expert consensus as a relevant... MORE

Do as Dan Does, Not as He Says

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Dan Klein closes his critique of The Myth of the Rational Voter with recommendations for the next edition:1. Soften the emphasis on beliefs and bias. Go more with bents. 2. Drop all “rational” talk. Just go with terms like folly,... MORE

What Nordhaus Said in 2002

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Economists are great at "predicting" events after they happen. Unfortunately, the real trick is predicting events before they happen. Friedman thus deserves extra credit for foreseeing stagflation. Donald Wittman deserves extra credit for foreseeing the base closings bill. Now I'd... MORE

It Wasn't Nurture - Trust Me!

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My basic model of children is that they are extremely honest adults. They say what they think, not what they are supposed to think. So what am I to make of the following incident? The scene: Sunday night at 8:10... MORE

Dan Klein Dissects The Myth of the Rational Voter

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Last week at George Mason, Dan Klein delivered a lengthy critique of my book at Pete Boettke's seminar. Now Dan's kindly made the full text of his statement available here. His praise on the first page is effusive enough to... MORE

Is Chinese Growth Credible?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I've long been skeptical of Chinese growth numbers. I don't doubt that China's economy is growing rapidly, but year after year of 10% growth seems incredible. In addition to the generic argument for doubting extreme numbers, we have the long... MORE

Can Becker Save the Chicago School?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Has Gary Becker re-discovered what the Chicago School is all about? Here's Becker turning his back on Milton Friedman back in 1976:I find it difficult to believe that most voters are systematically fooled about the effects of policies like quotas... MORE

Profit-maximizing employers should be gender-blind, right? Well, not quite. If, given all other information, women are less profitable to employ at a given wage than men, then profit-maximizing employers can't afford be gender-blind. That's the great lesson of the theory... MORE

Shrewd labor economics from the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly:For an actor, speaking out about contract demands may seem like a smart PR or legal move, but the strategy can often backfire in Hollywood when it comes to landing the... MORE

You Might Be An Economist If You Laugh At These Jokes

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
In fact, if you don't laugh at these jokes, I wonder whether you're really one of us.... MORE

Did Literalism Saved the World?

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
In the past, I've praised Robin Hanson for his literalism. Now a compelling article on Straussian textual interpretation has inspired Robin to propose a new theory of the Industrial Revolution:Modern growth began when enough intellectuals gained status not from ambiguity... MORE

Global Warming: The Experts Speak

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
Yes, I'm an elitist: When laymen and experts disagree, my presumption is that the laymen are wrong and the experts are right. Whether the subject is economics, toxicology, or global warming, that's my starting point (though not always my ending... MORE

Make-Work Bias of the Macabre

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A reader calls this the "most bizarre form of make-work bias I have ever seen," and I have to agree: NAJAF, Iraq — At what's believed to be the world's largest cemetery, where Shiite Muslims aspire to be buried and... MORE

The Common Sense of Defense Cuts

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
As an equal-opportunity offender, I'm finding it harder and harder to keep up with the competition. After arguing that we should cut health spending in half, Robin Hanson now adds that we should do the same with defense spending:But the... MORE

Villainy Amok

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
While we're on the subject of villainy, here's a challenge: Name the villains (presumably fictional) that you most identify with. My top picks:Gollum MagnetoHow about you? P.S. Check out Hero Games' Villainy Amok.... MORE

What Would a Hedonistic Economy Look Like?

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert skewers the belief that money buys happiness - then defends this error as a Noble Lie:If no one wants to be rich, then we have a significant economic problem, because flourishing economies require that... MORE

Villains, Victims, and Heroes

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Many of my favorite economists - including Arnold and Tyler - recoil from "villains-and-victims" stories. After a recent lunch, similarly, Robin Hanson panned the movie Blood Diamond in large part because of it is a villains-and-victims story. It's a safe... MORE

Mankiw's Pithiest... Post... Ever.

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
I like to see myself as an equal-opportunity offender, but I can't measure up to Mankiw's latest:Consider a person who A. takes an important truth developed by others, B. exaggerates it for dramatic effect, C. as a result, draws public... MORE

Where Nationalism Meets Socialism

International Trade
Bryan Caplan
I was surprised to find this at the Common Dreams News Center ("Breaking News and Views for the Progressive Community"):[R]eal free trade implies not only duty-free movement of goods and capital, but free movement of labour across borders, which neither... MORE

Copyright, China, and Anti-Foreign Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Rationalization #787 why trade with China is bad: "They're infringing our copyrights! Their government is doing nothing to stop it. We've got to impose sanctions until they get tough." When Americans infringe American copyrights, we throw up our hands. "What... MORE

Alex Tabarrok doubts there's much discrimination against right-wing academics; I beg to differ. Now I'm getting some support from a surprising source: Though he's still making up his mind, Larry Summers is moving from a Tabarrokian starting point to a... MORE

Tim Kane's New Blog

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Tim Kane has launched a new blog, and it looks promising. Kane's the primary author of the 2007 Index of Economic Freedom (which finds its way into Greenspan's new book), a Garett Jones co-author, and a comic book fan to... MORE

Free Disposal

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Ed Glaeser says that having kids has positive externalities:[T]here is another reason to subsidize larger families. When parents decide to have kids, they are creating a massive benefit for their children. As much as parents may love their children, they... MORE

Doug Campbell's written a great short history of public choice for Region Focus, the newsletter of the Richmond Fed. Or at least that's what my Inner Megalomaniac thinks, since 50% of this short history is about my work! One highlight:To... MORE

Crime Fiction versus Crime Fact

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
I'd guess that fictional serial killers outnumber real serial killers by at least 100:1. After all, how many movies and t.v. shows are there about serial killers - and how many are there in real life? That's hardly surprising -... MORE

The Cultural Relativism of Columbus Apologists

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Critics of multi-culturalism often mock its proponents for (a) cultural relativism and (b) disrepecting Columbus. The problem, as I've explained before, is that Columbus was a pioneer of slavery and barbarism. The only way to excuse his behavior is to... MORE

Malthusian Myopia

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The Malthusian model is not as crazy as Greg Clark's interpretation of it in A Farewell to Alms (here's Clark's reply; here's my rebuttal, with a second reply from Clark in the comments). But even correctly interpreted, the Malthusian model... MORE

The Golddigger's Dilemma

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Here's a thoughtful question from an unabashed golddigger:Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could you send me some tips? I dated a business man who makes average around 200 - 250. But... MORE

My Contigency Plan

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
After this morning's lecture on the life cycle model, I explained to my students that I'm never going to retire. Why would I give up a decent fraction of my income and most of my social network, when a professor's... MORE

What Racism Is

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Megan asks, "What is racism?":Part of the problem with talking about race and gender in America is the definition of racism and sexism. Most of us use a working definition of racism and sexism that is something like "Holding (bad)... MORE

Surowiecki's Levy and Peart's Mistake

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In my book, I reference Surowiecki's "guess-the-weight-of-an-ox" anecdote. My colleague David Levy and his co-author Sandra Peart show that isn't quite right. Contrary to Surowiecki, Galton reported the median guess, not the mean - which was reported by Pearson years... MORE

Tyler Gets Shocking

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Around the GMU lunch table, we've long joked that we ought to ship Tyler Cowen over to Princeton. At GMU, Tyler's contrarian nature and libertarian instincts wage a daily intifada. The best way to bring peace to Tyler's war-torn mind:... MORE

Today's Prize Winner for Overcoming Pessimistic Bias Goes To...

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Harold James:Nor, following the fastest five-year period of economic growth in human history, are collapsing prices endangering the financial system, as they did during the Great Depression. (emphasis mine)I just lived through the fatest-growing five years in economic history, and... MORE

Median Voter to Self: Keep Up the Good Work!

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
A recent Gallup poll confirmed the continuation of a 30-year trend: The median voter believes in himself! The question: More generally, how much trust and confidence do you have in the American people as a whole when it comes to... MORE

Scott Adams on the Economic Way of Thinking

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, thinks like an economist - and wants his readers to do the same: I studied economics in college. One thing I’ve noticed is that other people who have studied economics tend to think a similar... MORE

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