Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: December 2010

An Author Archive by Month (34 entries)

Euro Bet Resolved

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Almost four years ago, I made the following bet with Jeremy Rabkin: If France, Germany, and Italy remain on the Euro as of December 31, 2010, Rabkin owes me $20. Otherwise, I owe him $20.I win.... MORE

Mental Illness and Behaviorism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In an extended post on economics and mental illness, Tyler remarks: I disagree with Bryan Caplan's argument that mental illness is a false category; he is making an odd turn toward behaviorism.  That the behavior can be reduced to preferences... MORE

Carroll's Bet Proposal

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In response to my remarks about conservative passion, Heritage's Conn Carroll proposes a fairly attractive bet: Here is the bet: Identify the three highest rated conservative talk show hosts (I think its Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck). Pick three random shows from each... MORE

Case in Point

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The WSJ names Marginal Revolution as "Top of the tree" among econ blogs, and adds "The comments tend to be of unusually high quality too."  As if to test this compliment, Tyler asks: When it comes to the idea of... MORE

Conservative Passion

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Several responses in the comments dispute my premise that the two issues conservatives are most passionate about are immigration and war.  I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but it's hard to believe.  The conservatives that I know can't stop... MORE

The Improbably Awful Conservative Coincidence

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Why is it the case that conservatives are most passionate about the two issues - immigration and war - where they are least libertarian?  It seems like an improbably awful coincidence.... MORE

Patriotism as Political Correctness

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A lot of Frenchmen did not know that they belonged together until the long didactic campaigns of the later nineteenth century told them did...         --Eugen Weber, Peasants Into Frenchmen politically correct: conforming to a belief that language and practices... MORE

Overcoming Bias: Some Empirics

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Wilson and Brekke's justly famous article also contains an eye-opening survey of the empirics of "mental correction," better known at GMU as overcoming bias.  While I'm sure the sub-field has advanced since 1994, it's amazing how much was already known at... MORE

Bias, Assent, and the Psychological Plausibility of Rational Irrationality

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
[Update: Link fixed.] The following discussion from Wilson and Brekke's "Mental Contamination and Mental Correction" was a revelation for me.  I abhor unedited blockquoting, but this passage is so compactly informative it's hard to cut a word: As noted by... MORE

The Popularity of Atrocity

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Ralph Raico's Great Wars and Great Leaders seems to suggest that in World War II, the American public was even more vicious than the German.  According to Raico, the American people clearly backed the nuking of Japan:The political elite implicated... MORE

Are We Stubborn or Manipulable?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
It just occurred to me that there's a serious tension between two common psychological observations: 1. People are mentally stubborn, explaining the ubiquity of long-lasting disagreement. 2. People are easy to manipulate because they are extremely vulnerable to "mental contamination."... MORE

McCarthy, the Wilsonite

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Ralph Raico's new book also powerfully argues that compared to Woodrow Wilson, Joseph McCarthy was a tolerant and fair-minded man.  Once the U.S. entered World War I:Wilson sounded the keynote for the ruthless suppression of anyone who interfered with his... MORE

Wilson, the Decider

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Jon Stewart milked much hilarity after Bush publicly anointed himself "the Decider."  While reading Ralph Raico's new book, I discovered that compared to Woodrow Wilson, Bush was a modest man:When foreign affairs play a prominent part in the politics and... MORE

The Age of Relationships

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Google Ngram roughly confirms my hypothesis about the timing of the rise of the word "relationship."  Use roughly doubled from 1950 to 1970, and reached its current plateau in the mid-80s.... MORE

Why the Great Leap Forward Was Murder

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Even scholars well familiar with the horrors of the Great Leap Forward occasionally refuse to call Mao Zedong a murderer.  Why not?  Because Mao didn't know.  People kept telling him that his crazy agricultural schemes were working wonders.  What does... MORE

Cut Cali

Public Choice Theory
Bryan Caplan
Arnold should enjoy Jacob Lyles' proposed initiative to split California into two new states:Every single incumbent Democrat running for reelection to the state legislature won his race, including a dead guy. In this election cycle politically active Californians were most... MORE

The Political Externalities of Open Borders: Digest Version

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
"How can the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter favor open borders?"  I've heard the question dozens of times.  Once you admit that (a) democracy does what voters want, (b) voters irrationally oppose markets and liberty, (c) voters... MORE

Bob Murphy has taken the time and trouble to explain and graph my critique of Obama's payroll tax cut.  Nice work, Bob!... MORE

"Is Profit Evil?" The Complete Paper

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's the full text of "Is Profit Evil?"  Enjoy.... MORE

Welcome to My Hypersensitivity Training Workshop

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
In 1849 the British actor Charles Maccready started a riot by saying Americans were vulgar.  A mob stormed the Astor Place Opera House, where Maccready was playing Macbeth, police opened fire, and 22 rioters were killed.             -New York (Eyewitness Travel... MORE

The Psychology of People Against Profit

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just read a fascinating new working paper by Penn's Amit Bhattacharjee, Jason Dana, and Jonathan Baron (henceforth BDB).  The title: "Is Profit Evil?  Associations of Profit With Social Harm."  The paper is not yet publicly available, but I have... MORE

Hating on Econ

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
My favorite section in Diane Coyle's The Soulful Science: What Economists Really Do and Why It Matters tries to figure out why economics enrages as often as it bores:Mechanical, mathematical, removed from the "real world," reductionist, autistic - why do... MORE

Darwinian Heroism in History

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Contraception is a common challenge to evolutionary psychology.  Why on earth would evolution lead us to try to have fewer children than we can?  In The Moral Animal, Robert Wright provides the standard evolutionary psych response:[N]atural selection's primary means of... MORE

Woolsey's Counter Rant

Monetary Policy
Bryan Caplan
Bill Woolsey's comment on Arnold's rant against monetarism deserves more attention.  Highlight:Kling: Your argument doesn't apply to a world of scarcity. There is huge variety of products, all of which are currently being produced, of which additional quantities could be... MORE

Like David and Robert Higgs, I'm a fan of Ralph Raico.  Just one stand-out section of Raico's new book explains the evolution of Cobden's pacifist political economy.  He began like an orthodox public choice economist, blaming special interests for wars... MORE

I know lots of Keynesian economists and lots of right-wing non-economists.  I've spent decades in both worlds.  In the process, I've noticed some recurring macroeconomic miscommunications between the two camps.  Each takes something so much for granted that it can't... MORE

Labeling the Ridiculous

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Jonah Goldberg's critique of the "No Labels" movement is a cogent defense of stereotype accuracy and a model of elegant ridicule.Stereotype accuracy: If I tell you I'm a conservative Republican, you'll have no idea what my views are on Buffy... MORE

Bubble Deniers: Name Names

Finance
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner's posted a striking challenge: Name the famous bubble deniers.In economics people notice bubbles bursting, but fail to pay much attention to bubbles not bursting.  But I admit I might be wrong, so I'll give my opponents one more... MORE

Sociobiology's Sucker Punch

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A revelatory passage in Robert Wright's The Moral Animal:The various revolutionaries [of Darwinian social science] stubbornly refuse to call themselves by a single, simple name... They once had a name - "sociobiology," Wilson's apt and useful term.  But Wilson's book... MORE

With perfectly flexible wages, it doesn't matter whether tax law says "employees pay" or "employers pay."  Tax incidence depends on supply and demand elasticity, not legislative intent. If wages are nominally rigid, however, the law matters.  If you cut a... MORE

Behaviorism Works Because It's False

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
"Behaviorism" describes a range of positions, but they all claim that we should focus on "observable behavior" instead of mere mental states.  (For more, see here, here, here, and here).  While this position is counterintuitive, it seems to work: One... MORE

I finally read Robert Wright's modern classic The Moral Animal.  I've got lots to say, but let me start with a simple puzzle I never noticed before.  Evolutionary psychology has a simple explanation for why men value women's youth far... MORE

What You Have That George Vanderbilt Didn't

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I just returned from the Biltmore, America's largest home.  Built by George Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895, the Biltmore is a symbol of how good the rich had it during the Gilded Age.  I'm sure that most of the other... MORE

The Weird Reason to Have More Kids

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Think of a trait that brings people together.  It could be jokiness, religiosity, libertarianism, love of books, or fascination with role-playing games - or seriousness, impiety, statism, hatred of books, or contempt for role-playing games.  Take your pick.  Now suppose... MORE

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