Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Economics and Culture

A Category Archive (349 entries)

Preferences in The Warriors

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Economics makes many things funnier.  But econ's comedic value-added for the final scene of The Warriors (1979) is truly rich.  The first 15 seconds have the big unintended joke, but don't stop there.... MORE

An Odd A Priori Argument Against Private Education

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
In her chapter on crime in The Social Benefits of Education (Behrman and Stacey, eds., 1997), Ann Dryden Witte provides an argument against private education likely to win many economists' immediate assent:Consider a world in which there were no public interventions... MORE

Aging Out of Addiction

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've known about "aging out" for ages, but former addict and neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz eloquently boils down the evidence:According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is "a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related... MORE

The Ultimate Incivility

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've long believed that human beings are overly touchy.  Many actively look for excuses to take offense.  This excess negativity isn't just unpleasant.  Due to the scarcity of attention and patience, unreasonable offense frequently crowds out reasonable offense.  It's no... MORE

The Puzzling Ubiquity of Disability

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In 1976, 8.3% of students in U.S. public schools were officially disabled.  By 2010, the disabled share was up to 13%.  What on earth happened?  This piece by Jay Greene and Greg Forster considers and critiques three main stories.  Prepare... MORE

Tribal Desire

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
On Twitter, Mark Krikorian opined that, "Desire for membership in a tribe is as inherent to the human personality as some form of body covering."  He's not exactly wrong, but omits three essential caveats.1. Desire for tribal membership varies widely. ... MORE

Mencken's Appeasement

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I just learned that the great H.L. Mencken's Prejudices contains an eloquent plea for appeasement.  From Mencken's "Martyrs": Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 [I]t seems to me sheer vanity for any man to hold his religious views too firmly, or to submit... MORE

Food, snobbery and anti-capitalism

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
I'm currently reading a truly interesting book, which some of EconLog's readers may be already familiar with: "The Intellectuals and the Masses. Pride and Prejudice among the Literary Intelligentsia 1880-1939" by John Carey. Carey argues, in his own words, "that... MORE

The Sweet Spot of Freedom

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
No one needs a political philosophy to tell them how to treat people they personally know.  Once human beings forge personal bonds, they understand what to expect from each other.  The main point of political philosophy is to tell people... MORE

Machismo vs. Appeasement

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I suspect that the ultimate objection to pacifism and appeasement is that they are unmanly.  A "real man," brimming over with machismo, stands up for himself no matter what the consequences: Never retreat, never surrender.  The emotional appeal is undeniable. ... MORE

My Life of Appeasement

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Morally speaking, I think taxation is theft.  The government has a lot of bad excuses for taking my money without my consent, but no really good reasons.  Still, every year, I pay my taxes.  Why don't I stand up for... MORE

Think tanks, idea factories no more?

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Robert J. Samuelson has an interesting, and rather pessimistic, piece on "the future of think tanks". Samuelson deals specifically with the Heritage Foundation, particularly because Stuart Butler, for 35 years a senior researcher at Heritage and "among the most visible... MORE

Immigrants Are Good for Cosmopolitan Tolerance

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When I debated Mark Krikorian, he bemoaned immigrants' effect on Americans' patriotic solidarity.  I think he's making a mountain out of a molehill, but Mark's concerns were much on my mind during my recent visit to New York City.  I... MORE

What Do Constitutions Do? Star Trek Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Political scientist and game designer Chris McGlothlin has a neat Facebook post on Star Trek and the Constitution, building off the classic episode "The Omega Glory."  Here's Chris, reprinted with his permission:As both a political science professor and a Trekkie,... MORE

A Non-Conformist's Guide to Success in a Conformist World

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've been a non-conformist for as long as I can remember.  "All the other kids love sports" never seemed like a good reason why I should feel - or pretend to feel - the same way.  "None of the other... MORE

Good bye to the book as we know it?

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Amazon selling $9.99 monthly subscriptions for "all-you-can-read" on Kindle is exciting news. Some have argued that this will change completely our relationship with the book as an object. Indeed, many people who invest lots of their time in reading tend... MORE

What to Learn from The Catcher in the Rye

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I recently re-read J.D.Salinger's 1951 classic, The Catcher in the Rye, prompting Tyler to do the same.  My top reactions:1. Other than losing his brother Allie, Holden has no external problems.  He is a rich kid living in the most... MORE

Free Market Virtues

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots... MORE

Endogenous Sexism

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Suppose men and women are equally praiseworthy in every way.  Both genders are equally honest, fair, peaceful, hard-working, fun-loving, and so on.  With one key exception, both genders share the same trait preferences: The average man places as much weight... MORE

Voluntary-but Bossy-Socialism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Voluntary-and-laid-back socialism sounds good to most people; that's why Cohen's camping trip thought experiment works.  Involuntary socialism, in contrast, sounds terrible to almost everyone; that's why Cohen's thought experiment fails to advance what most avowed socialists have in mind.  The... MORE

Ownership for Cartoonishly Nice People

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The noble and prolific Jason Brennan has just released Why Not Capitalism?, a short book replying to Gerald Cohen's Why Not Socialism?  Outstanding work, as usual.  For me, the highlight is Brennan's explanation for why even cartoonishly nice people would... MORE

I wear a hat as a Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. In the last several days, IFWE has run a few pieces on their blog that have really stood out to me in light... MORE

Liberal Authoritarianism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Critics often view liberals as deeply authoritarian.  Most liberals naturally object to this unflattering claim.  Critics notwithstanding, liberals don't relish using the power of government.  They don't have a raw preference for forcing everyone live their way.  Instead, liberals maintain,... MORE

Does Bad Science Always Lead to Bad Policy?

Regulation
David Henderson
Mac McCann, on Reason.com, writes: Texas has a lot of things to be proud of. The Republican Party of Texas, however, is not one of them. Turns out everything really is bigger down in Texas, including our embarrassments. He then... MORE

Shall business defend "capitalism"?

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
John McTernan, a former political secretary to Tony Blair, had an interesting article in the FT. He urges "British businesses urgently need to become actively involved in politics". Mr McTernan is actually urging companies to join the debate on Scotland and the... MORE

A Hardy Weed: How Traditionalists Underestimate Western Civ

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Last month, I debated Stephen Balch from Texas Tech's Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.  As I perused their website, I realized that despite our differences on immigration, we had a lot of common ground.  This jumped out at... MORE

Richard Ebeling on "Thick Libertarianism"

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
I have not engaged in the discussion of "thin" versus "thick" libertarianism. It took me a while even to grasp what people were talking about. Once I had understood the distinctions, I had thought I was a "thin" libertarian. But... MORE

Sports are Life

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
One reason I'm enjoying the NBA playoffs so much is that I like both teams so much. The San Antonio Spurs have an incredible coach and one of the things I like most about them is their everyday humility--not phony... MORE

Dear Nationalism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Dear Nationalism,We've grown up together.  In a sense, you and I have been together our whole lives.  In a deeper sense, though, we've never been together.  I've tried to let you down easy a hundred times.  But subtlety doesn't work... MORE

Last night I debated Stephen Balch of Texas Tech's Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.  Here's my opening statement. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Meant for Each Other: Open Borders and Western Civilization The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization... MORE

Water Runs Downhill, and School Is Boring

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've been reading everything I can on how people feel when they're in school.  The evidence is thin, but confirms the obvious: Most people find school super-boring.  The High School Survey of Student Engagement is probably the single best... MORE

The Worst They Can Do

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
All modern governments do terrible things during wartime.  Most deliberately murder innocents; the rest at least recklessly endanger innocents.  Morally speaking, all sides in any serious military conflict are led by war criminals.Unfortunately, however, these genuine insights often lead my... MORE

Aid to bookstores?

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Star novelist James Patterson is donating 1 million dollars in financial aid to independent bookstores. Patterson apparently maintains that "federal government's financial support of troubled industries like Wall Street and the automobile sector should extend to the bookstore business". This... MORE

The Singaporean Path to Cosmopolitanism

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Singapore has one of the most open immigration polices in the world.  But these policies do not currently enjoy popular support.  According to the World Values Survey, Singaporeans seem more anti-immigration than Americans:Only 4% of Singaporeans favour open borders, and... MORE

Taxes are all around

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
The Lithuanian Free Market Institute has long been one of the most energetic think tanks in Europe. They are also one of the few free-market organizations, among the European ones, that have a thoroughly broad and diversified base. Lithuania is... MORE

Two cheers for the tasteless

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Does Tamara Ecclestone prompt "a rethink of capitalism"? So writes the Philosopher's Mail, a website that aims to "prove genuinely popular and populist news outlet which at the same time is alive to traditional philosophical virtues". Nowadays, rich people easily... MORE

Diasporas, Swamping, and Open Borders Abolitionism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Paul Collier's Exodus makes one great obvious-once-you-think-about-it point: diasporas matter.The third big thing we know [about immigration] is that the costs of migration are greatly eased by the presence in the host country of a diaspora from the country of... MORE

How to measure the influence of think tanks?

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Think tanks very often claim they are "fighting the war of ideas" - but indeed it is difficult to assess success and casualties in this kind of "war". All non-profits have problems in finding suitable metrics for their achievements -... MORE

Amazon's crystal ball

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Amazon has already revolutionized the delivery of many goods, but may still have some surprises in store. The Wall Street Journal Digits blog reported that the Seattle-based company has patented the so-called "anticipatory shipping," a method to start delivering packages... MORE

Could we have another Arthur Seldon?

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
The Online Library of Liberty is hosting an interesting symposium on the contributions of Arthur Seldon, the first, unforgettable editorial director of the IEA. Seldon studied at the LSE, where, like Ronald Coase, he found a mentor in Arnold Plant.... MORE

The Orange Moon

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When I was around 4 years old, my family took a trip to Nevada.  While there, I saw my first orange moon.  I couldn't believe my eyes.When I returned home, I told my best friend, Adam, what I'd seen.Me: In... MORE

Emporiophobia at Christmas

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
Art Carden has written a wonderful post about Christmas. These days, we were told as kids, we should learn to be thankful for all the good in our life: love and friendship that we honor by giving big and little... MORE

Looking for Love in the Laboratory

Economic Education
Bart Wilson
The last experiment in Humanomics is a variation of a treatment in an article by Mary Rigdon, Kevin McCabe, and Vernon Smith. In my version, people are paired to play the following extensive form game: Person 1 makes the first... MORE

Richman: Non-Libertarians Sorta Agree With Us

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
My Delightful Societal Bubble Libertarians make a self-defeating mistake in assuming that their fundamental principles differ radically from most other people's principles. Think how much easier it would be to bring others to the libertarian position if we realized that... MORE

Based upon last fall's Humanomics course, Gus Gradinger and I are submitting the following chapter proposal for a book on teaching with The Wire. If it doesn't fit with the editors' vision for the volume, we plan to work out... MORE

Play and Exit

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've now read Peter Gray's Free to Learn twice.  To be honest, he's the first unschooler to deeply impress me as a thinker and a writer.  Before I discuss the heart of his book, I plan to read his key... MORE

Trust, Diversity, Credit Cards, and E-Commerce

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Modern social scientists are in love with trust.  Economists, sociologists, and political scientists all eagerly explain that high-trust societies work, and low-trust societies don't.  Trust is so beloved that many leftist social scientists have started to sound like social conservatives. ... MORE

The Big Bag of Wealth

Alternative Economics
Bart Wilson
The second paper assignment in freshman Humanomics is to write a short story, a type of homage to Washington Irving's "The Devil and Tom Walker" but from the point of view of Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist. The story below... MORE

Who Treats You Worse?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My impression is that customers treat workers worse than bosses.  But perhaps I'm wrong.  Question for all people who interact with both customers and bosses: who treats you worse?Please show your work.... MORE

Would Obamacare Have Saved Walter White's Soul?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Non-Finale Breaking Bad Spoilers]The Daily Beast's Jamelle Bouie claims that Obamacare would have ruined the premise of Breaking Bad:Remember, the instigating action of the series is White's cancer diagnosis--in order to pay for his treatments and leave a nest... MORE

Perhaps the most relevant of Mencken's aphorisms

Economics and Culture
Alberto Mingardi
David Henderson has celebrated H.L. Mencken's birthday by posting some of his best aphorisms on democracy and politics. I would just like to commend the following one, which seems to me to be the most relevant for contemporary policy issues:... MORE

Liberty Fund's own Sarah Skwire is one of my favorite people, and by reading some of her columns in The Freeman I've been able to catch up on the classical education I thought I had and always claimed but eventually... MORE

The Mixed Messages of French Schooling

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I finally got around to reading Eugen Weber's classic Peasants Into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914.  It wasn't what I'd been led to believe.  I heard that the book blamed World War I on public schooling: Europe's late... MORE

College football season has started. I plan to go to a few Samford games and I'll keep up with my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide, but this is yet another year when I'm going to try to dial back my enthusiasm... MORE

The Partialtarian Corporation

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Noam Chomsky calls corporations "totalitarian" without a hint of irony (gated version only):...I'd like to strengthen the federal government. The reason is, we live in this world, not some other world. And in this world there happen to be huge... MORE

Good Students Rule

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Most professors like good students, but I idolize them.  For most professors, good students are a joy in the classroom, but a chore outside of the classroom.  For me, good students are a joy through and through.  I like talking... MORE

Friday Night Video: Good Advice from Ashton Kutcher

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Yes. You read that right. Here's the link. It's less than 5 minutes long. It's advice for young people, but it's good advice for everyone. HT to Bob Murphy.... MORE

Gaming on EconLog: A History of Nerddom

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Today I'm taking my twins to their first GenCon, the world's biggest gaming convention.  In honor of this glorious day, here are my top gaming related EconLog posts.1. The Secret of Good Games2. The Sociology of RPGs3. The Social Science... MORE

Open Borders Logo Contest

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The Open Borders blog is sponsoring an Open Borders logo contest.  Fab Rojas explains:The Open Borders movement seeks a symbol that embodies the spirit of free migration. To achieve that goal, we are sponsoring a logo contest. The winner of... MORE

Business Brainwashing and Vocational Education

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a huge fan of child labor, also known as "vocational education."  Almost everyone would be better off if students in the bottom half of their class began full-time apprenticeships after elementary school.  If you hate sitting still and you're... MORE

The Absurdity of Royalty

Economics and Culture
Art Carden
The world is aflutter with news of the Royal Baby. In a tweet, Neil deGrasse Tyson points out the absurdity of royalty: "@neiltyson: A curious tradition -- to look at a newborn baby and say to yourself, 'Because of your... MORE

Gintis on the Evolution of Private Property

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Herb Gintis' "The Evolution of Private Property" (Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2007) is one of the most fascinating articles I've read in years. (ungated draft)  I'm slightly jealous because I've planned to write a similar piece for a... MORE

Vegetarianism and Social Desirability Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Economists love to dismiss surveys: "You can't believe what people say.  You have to look at what they actually do."  Yet we rarely bother to actually demonstrate the unreliability of surveys.  Economists may be pleased to know, then, that two... MORE

Long-time readers of EconLog will know that most of the common objections to increased immigration are simply wrong. For review, here's Ben Powell's explanation of how immigrants don't wreck our economy, take our jobs, or depress wages. Still, one of... MORE

Greed Is Tolerant

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Kelly Miller was the first black admitted to Johns Hopkins.  He became a professor of mathematics at Howard in 1890.  In 1895, he introduced sociology to the curriculum and became a sociology professor.  One of his essays, "The Negro and... MORE

The Most Bourgeois Place on Earth?

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Art Carden
We're halfway through one of those most noble of life's rituals--helping a family member move, in this case, my sister to Minnesota--and we spent this morning at what I would argue is the most bourgeois place on Earth: the Mall... MORE

Naik on Bastards and Stigma

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Very interesting FB post on bastards and stigma by Vipul Naik, reprinted with his permission."When you see a redneck, you call him a redneck. Perhaps, when you see a bastard, you should call him a bastard. Shame is a powerful... MORE

Deirdre McCloskey: Julian Simon Award Winner

Economic History
Art Carden
Tonight, I'm introducing Deirdre McCloskey at the Competitive Enterprise Institute's annual dinner, where she will be recognized with the Institute's 2013 Julian Simon Award. Professor McCloskey is a most deserving recipient and one of the worthy intellectual heirs of Julian... MORE

Is television the new agriculture? Upon strong pressure on the part of the French, the "audiovisual" industry will be kept out of the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations. Simon Kuper had an interesting article on the FT, providing... MORE

Rothbard: How a Circle Becomes a Movement

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you've ever been baffled by Murray Rothbard's appeal, check out "The Six Stages of the Libertarian Movement."  It beautifully captures not only his intellect, but his charm.  Highlight: His rich description of how a study circle becomes an intellectual... MORE

Contrarian Virtue

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In case it's unclear, nothing in my analysis of conformity and virtue implies that I personally am especially virtuous.  The fact that I hold many unpopular views does however mean that my virtue is unusually easy to assess.  If you... MORE

You Will Know Them By Their Unpopular Views

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Consider a world where 80% of people are Conformists, 10% of people are Righteous, and 10% are Reprobates.  The Conformists are epistemically and morally neutral, so they believe and support whatever is popular.   The Righteous are epistemically and morally... MORE

In a Just World...

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
In a just world, no researcher would be fired for truthfully stating that some kinds of immigrants have low IQs.In a just world, however, researchers would be fired for arguing that people with below-average IQs should be denied their basic... MORE

Chef Rudy's Virtues Project

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
When I was 16, I had a job at the Minaki Lodge in Minaki, Ontario from which I was fired. (Why was I fired? That's a whole other story. It had nothing to do with my work ethic.) After I... MORE

I Was a Teenage Misanthrope

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When I was a teenager, I viewed all of the following with antipathy: students not in honors classes, heavy metal fans, people who disliked classical music, stoners, athletes, cheerleaders, all but two of my teachers, car collectors, sports fans, smokers,... MORE

Tocqueville's Trailers

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
David Henderson
To move into Pismodise you must meet four conditions: Be 55 or older, keep your dog under 20 pounds, be present when guests stay at your home, and be comfortable with what most Americans consider a very small house. "If... MORE

Immigration and Bubbles

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Vipul Naik called my attention to an interesting comment on immigration and bubbles:Isn't the bubble idea in opposition to the unlimited immigration idea? Your bubble advice boils down to surrounding yourself as much as possible with like minded people. Immigration... MORE

How I Found Well-Being in a Bubble World

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
David Henderson
That could be the title of co-blogger Bryan's latest post, as commenter Rochelle essentially pointed out. Even though I'm not with him on all the particulars, I am with most. Here was my earlier version. My main purpose with this... MORE

Make Your Own Bubble in 10 Easy Steps

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Someone on Twitter asked for advice on how to create a Beautiful Bubble.  Perhaps he was teasing me, but it's a good question.  Here's my 10 Step Program:1. Amicably divorce your society.  Don't get angry at the strangers who surround... MORE

Is Econ a Mickey Mouse Major?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My intellectual conscience engages whenever I speak of "Mickey Mouse majors."  After all, many people see my own discipline - economics - as a prime example.  Are they wrong?It depends.  There are at least four different senses of the "Mickey... MORE

On The Effects of Homeschooling: A Bet

Alternative Economics
Art Carden
I can't wait for Bryan's The Case Against Education: every semester, my beliefs move in favor of the signaling model and against the human capital model of schooling. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of students who are... MORE

Yglesias on Narcissism

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
UPDATE: Paul Krugman makes the point that Matt Yglesias and I make. Personal Experience and Principle Various friends on Facebook this morning were celebrating the fact that Republican Senator Robert Portman has come out (no pun intended) in favor of... MORE

Why Am I So Cheerful?

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
After we taped a segment for the John Stossel show last Tuesday, John and I took the subway to his beautiful apartment on the Upper East Side, where he had invited me to dinner with him and his lovely wife.... MORE

Is Self-Assertion a Free Lunch?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Steve Sailer has an interesting reaction to yesterday's post on Asians' Democratic leanings: Bryan has the psychological dynamics 180 degrees backwards. The Republicans problem with Asian and Latin voters is not that Republicans don't respect the newcomers enough, it's that... MORE

Does Conflict Immigrate?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
During today's debate #2, I circled back to debate #1: If you really want to help the world's victims of oppression and intolerance, open borders is a cheap, humane alternative to military intervention.  How many Rwandan lives would have been... MORE

Some Wisdom of Don Corleone

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just finished re-reading The Godfather.  It's full of grist for the social science mill.  My personal favorite:"There are men in this world," he said, "who go about demanding to be killed.  You must have noticed them.  They quarrel in... MORE

Society of Lies

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson recently inspired me to re-read Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych."  In a just world, social scientists of all descriptions would analyze this great work from a hundred different angles.  On my latest reading, though, what struck me... MORE

Russ on Progress and Signaling

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Russ Roberts replies to my recent post on progress and signaling:Bryan wants to argue that conformity ossifies our behavior, but the world around us is full of non-conformity that eventually becomes no big deal. The first few people who bought... MORE

What Will the Neighbors Say? How Signaling Ossifies Behavior

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you suddenly discover a far better way of doing X.  Your discovery uses fewer resources, yields higher quality, and even has more positive externalities than Ye Olde Standby.  There's just one catch: your discovery is a discovery.  By definition,... MORE

Feeling vs. the Minimum Wage: A Hard-Headed Assessment

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The best response by far to yesterday's challenge was a pair of tweets by Dan Lin:@bryan_caplan Find a person who got laid off from a charity after minimum wage increase. She tearfully says "I just want to help people."@bryan_caplan Oprah... MORE

Feeling vs. the Minimum Wage

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Last week, I argued that some ideas are inherently hard to sell to people with "Feeling" personalities:If you're trying to sell libertarianism to Feeling people, "hard head, soft heart" ideas are more persuasive than "hard head, hard heart" ideas.  But... MORE

Pax Libertaria

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
As a rule, I dislike shouting matches.  But I especially dislike shouting matches between people I largely agree with.  As a libertarian, this puts me in an uncomfortable position, because many libertarians seem to relish shouting matches - even, or... MORE

Women, Liberty, Marketing, and Social Science

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Steve Horwitz and Sarah Skwire have restarted a long-standing debate about the shortage of libertarian women.  They make a very fair point: Libertarians should have been friendlier and more respectful to women - and turn over a new leaf forthwith. ... MORE

Bahrain Travelogue: Friendliest People on Earth?

Economics and Culture
Garett Jones
Last week I visited my GMU colleague Omar al-Ubaydli.  Omar now lives and works in Bahrain, a quick drive over the King Fahd Causeway from Saudi Arabia. A few of Omar's other friends from around the world joined in the visit so... MORE

Free Speech for Me but Not for Thee: The Case of Erik Loomis

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Second Update: Henry Farrell of Crooked Timber has commented below, ending with: "I would be grateful if you could change the original post to reflect these facts." I won't change it, but I will alert readers to his comment. I... MORE

The Case Against Education on Who You Know

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The noble Vipul Naik has been prodding me to address the social networking benefits of education.  Here's my first take on the subject from the current draft of The Case Against Education.Who You KnowAbout half of all workers used contacts... MORE

Pre-Assimilation

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
An especially clever argument by Nathan Smith:[G]lobalization has half-Americanized half the world already. 19th-century immigrants may have been racially more similar to America's white native majority, but they were less familiar with democracy, with the English language, with America via movies... MORE

Friday Night Video: Harvard Tries to be Hip

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
This doesn't quite match the U.S. Olympic swim team version, but it's not bad. Check out Greg Mankiw boogeying at about the 3:00 point. Go Greg!... MORE

Decadent Parenting

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
More on decadent parenting from the intro of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids:To be brutally honest, we're reluctant to have more children because we think that the pain outweighs the gain. When people compare the grief that another child... MORE

Ignatius Reilly on Character and Education

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A Confederacy of Dunces' unemployed anti-hero, Ignatius Reilly, explores the tension between the school ethic and the work ethic in a conversation with his long-suffering mother:"I doubt very seriously whether anyone will hire me.""What do you mean, babe? You a... MORE

A Critique of Wisdom

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Almost ten years ago, philosopher Roderick Long wrote an uncommonly wise piece on political correctness.  The opening commands my instant assent:There are two ways of letting political correctness control your mind. One is to reject viewpoints, not because they're false,... MORE

Malcom's Purge, Second Thoughts, and Murder (Chapters 16-19, plus Haley's Epilogue)SummaryBy the early 60s, Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad's health is failing, and internal resentment against Malcolm's success is starting to build.  He refuses publicity to calm the jealousy -... MORE

Friedman on Chicago vs. Columbia

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
I just received my review copy of Lanny Ebenstein's The Indispensable Milton Friedman. It's a compilation of less-well-known, but, nevertheless, often very interesting, essays by Friedman. Yesterday morning, I did a "drop-in interviewer" spot on a local libertarian/conservative talk show... MORE

Trustworthiness > Trust

Cross-country Comparisons
Garett Jones
The academic literature is filled with research into the importance of trust.  High-trust societies are richer, safer, just better. But I suspect that it's not trust that's valuable: it's trustworthiness.  When people are trustworthy, when cultures and laws make honorable... MORE

Dan Klein on the Econ Profession

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
When Dan Klein dissects the economics profession, he manages to be simultaneously thoughtful, blunt, and fair: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 My view of the matter, in the broadest terms, is that human culture generally, and in particular Anglo-American culture since the... MORE

Thoughts on Dickens

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
Bill, that is, not Charles. Both co-blogger Bryan (here) and many of his commenters (here and here) have done a nice job of handling Bill Dickens' major criticisms of Bryan's views on poverty and the poor. I have a few... MORE

Reply to Bill Dickens on Poverty: Part 1

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Since Bill Dickens' last reply to me is essay-length, my plan is to write a series of relatively short replies, and spread them out over the next month.  Here's Part 1.  By default, Bill's in blockquotes, I'm not.You subscribe to... MORE

Discrimination, Liberty, and the Sorites Paradox

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The Sorites Paradox works in two directions.Top-down: 1,000,000 grains of sand is a heap of sand; a heap of sand minus one grain is still a heap; therefore one or grain of sand (or zero!) is a heap of sand.Bottom-up:... MORE

Are Monolingual Americans Missing Out?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Many found my statement here outrageous:To understand why Americans don't learn foreign languages, simply reverse this reasoning.  We don't learn foreign languages because foreign languages rarely helps us get good jobs, meet interesting people, or enjoy culture.To me, it's just... MORE

Would Arnold Support an RFPB?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The world's competing faiths subscribe to mutually incompatible doctrines - including doctrines about how to avoid eternal suffering in the afterlife.  One of these faiths could conceivably be true.  But no more than one.  If there are X incompatible views,... MORE

How I Love Education

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When I write about education, I suspect I come off as a philistine.  You might even boil my position down to: "Students are bored, and aren't acquiring job skills, so their education is a waste of time and money."  But... MORE

What Would Efficient Sexual Harassment Law Look Like?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
In a post I otherwise applaud, Alex Tabarrok presents an efficiency defense of sexual harassment law: What the theory and the empirical results are saying is that people exposed to a higher risk of sexual harassment are paid more, just as people... MORE

From the latest draft of The Case Against Education:The permanent residents of the Ivory Tower often congratulate themselves for broadening students' horizons.  For the most part, however, "broaden" means "expose students to yet another subject they'll never use in real... MORE

Amazon put Borders out of business.  Is online education going to do to the same to brick-and-mortar colleges?*  Reflecting on earlier conversations with Arnold, I've realized that there are three competing perspectives with three competing predictions.Perspective #1: Human capital model. ... MORE

Jersey Shore, Emily Whitehurst, and Merit

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've repeatedly argued that economic success and merit are moderately positively correlated.  In plain English: Talented people who work hard usually enjoy considerably higher income and status.  I hasten to add that in a free market, this correlation would be... MORE

Toga! Toga!

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
"Excellent."  That's what Tyler calls Noah Smith's effort to salvage the human capital model.  Noah's story: Students learn lots of useful job skills outside of class by socializing together.[U]seful skills, which you mostly learn on the job, are not the... MORE

Vignettes from the Harold Demsetz Conference

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
As a student of UCLA economist Harold Demsetz, I was invited to a conference in his honor. It occurred on Friday and Saturday. My travel and attendance there, plus my time spent on my Saturday lunch tribute to him, are... MORE

Friday Night Video: Markets Breed Virtue

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson

Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism: Stephen Hicks Weighs In

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
Philosophy professor (and fellow Canuck) Stephens Hicks has a thoughtful post on bleeding-heart libertarianism (BHL). The whole thing is not long and is well worth reading. Two highlights: As a political-philosophical method: BHL says we should start politics by dividing... MORE

To repeat:The "Catholic" approach has extremely high moral standards (e.g. Be celibate; give everything you have to the poor; love everyone), but enforces them loosely.The "Protestant" approach has moderate moral standards (e.g. Don't commit adultery; prudently give to the deserving... MORE

"Catholic" versus "Protestant" Ethics

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've often heard people distinguish between two distinct ethical outlooks.  They usually call them the "Catholic" approach and the "Protestant" approach, but the distinction has little to do with theology.  Instead:The "Catholic" approach has extremely high moral standards (e.g. Be... MORE

Educational Counter-Signaling Bleg

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
How successful does someone have to be before he starts bragging, "I never finished college" or "I never went to college?"  Gates and Zuckerberg are clearly there.  How much lower down the ladder of success must you go before such... MORE

Are Political Labels Uniquely IQ-Draining?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Will Wilkinson replies to my defense of labels against his attack:Bryan has sort of wrongly inferred that my aversion to specifically political labels flows from a much more general aversion to naming one's convictions. At the limit, Bryan makes it... MORE

In Vino Hateful Ranting?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I never heard of John Derbyshire until a few days ago, but The Nation's inventory of his earlier controversies got my attention.  The most interesting: The Nation accuses Derbyshire of "defending Mel Gibson's racist comments."  A more accurate summary is... MORE

If Coming Apart is right, what should we do?  Charles Murray already proposed one frankly bizarre set of solutions in the NYT.  Now he offers a rather different set of solutions in the WSJ.  Or to be precise, one solution. ... MORE

An Early Stanley Fish Moment

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
The Stanley Fish op/ed that I posted about on Sunday was shocking. I appreciate many of the thoughtful comments people made. I've had more time to think about it and I remembered an evening when I was about 14, a... MORE

Rand on Totalitarian Motives

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Ayn Rand's verdict on totalitarian motives* is remarkably similar to mine.  From Galt's Speech:[I]f the ravages wrought by their acts have not made them question their doctrines, if they profess to be moved by love, yet are not deterred by... MORE

Stanley Fish: "Might Makes Right"

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on... MORE

Quietism and the Bubble

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If I prefer to live in a Bubble, why do I spend so much my time publicly promoting my own ideas?  A true Bubble Boy, you'd think, would give up on the world; to say, with The Misanthrope's Philinte: Normal... MORE

A Libertarian Defense of Blacklisting at The Nation

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Ilyse Hogue has a shockingly libertarian piece on the Limbaugh boycott at The Nation.  Not "civil libertarian," but hard-line my-money-my-choice libertarian.  Background:Bill Maher spent a significant portion of last Friday's Real Time defending Rush Limbaugh. Well, not defending the man,... MORE

Reciprocity and Irony: A View from My Bubble

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Steve Sailer has a revealing comment on my Bubble post:Of course, if there were a big war, it would be nice to be defended by all those dreary Americans you despise. And, the irony is, they'd do it, too, just... MORE

Compromise and Priorities

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm steering clear of the Cato-Koch dispute.  But these remarks by Will Wilkinson are intriguing at the meta level: [I]n actual large-stakes political fights in Washington, Cato is generally on the Republican side. It would not be strange to spot... MORE

My Beautiful Bubble

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Unlike many readers of Coming Apart, you don't have to convince me that I live in a Bubble.  I've known it for decades.  In fact, I think my 3-out-of-20 score on the "How Thick Is Your Bubble?" quiz greatly overstates... MORE

Downton Abbey

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Downton Abbey (season 1 streaming on Netflix) doesn't just live up to the hype.  It also beautifully illustrates the power of firing aversion during the heydey of employment at will.  Highly recommended.... MORE

The Demented Pacifism of Irving Fisher

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
On July 15, 1915, the New York Times ran an interview with legendary economist Irving Fisher.  His response to the Great War was staunchly pacifist:After this war is over, of course, Europe will find herself prostrated economically, by the destruction... MORE

Seth Roberts on Education and Evaluation

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Seth Roberts has an interesting response to "The Magic of Education" - that I don't go far enough:Professors are terrible at evaluation. Their method of judging student work is very simple: How close is it to what I would have... MORE

Bias Against Speculation?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson recently discussed research finding that atheists are widely disliked because people see them as less trustworthy.  He then posed a logical followup question: "So are atheists actually less trustworthy?" and offered a tentative answer: "I'd guess that they are, but... MORE

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:The discovery that the Dutch researcher Diederik A. Stapel made up the data for dozens of research papers has shaken up the field of social psychology, fueling a discussion not just about outright fraud, but... MORE

The Paltry Effect of Political Correctness

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Sure, colleges are full of politically correct indoctrination.  But how well does the indoctrination actually work?  Poorly.  How College Affects Students reviews the whole literature and finds that:Net of the attitudes and other characteristics students bring with them to college, the... MORE

In Time

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: spoilers]Sci-fi thriller In Time has a simple premise: In the future, people become immortal as long as they don't run out of the crucial tradable commodity: time.  Everyone is born with 26 years of life; to live longer, they... MORE

When They Take Over, We'll Be Them

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
True story: A Jewish senior complained to me, "There are hardly any regular Caucasians left."  I couldn't resist pointing out that when he was a kid, Jews weren't "regular Caucasians."  Everyone - Jews and Gentiles alike - saw the Jews... MORE

Leon Louw's Talk at Mont Pelerin

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
One of the highlights of the Mont Pelerin Society meetings that are ending in Istanbul tonight was a talk by Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation in South Africa. Some high points: 1. He led off by stating, "I... MORE

Marsh vs. A Simple, Effective Way to Avoid Poverty

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
I genuinely like John Marsh's Class Dismissed.  But now it's time to attack the most outrageous passage in the entire book.  Here's Marsh's take on the view that "increased poverty rates owe to an increase in single-parent homes":Nearly two-thirds of... MORE

Supplemental Pessimism

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
More things I'm pessimistic about:1. I think First World happiness is basically maxed out.  In rich countries, your happiness depends on your personality, not your situation.  And personality is really hard to change.  Tyler says he's a "revenue pessimist but... MORE

About What Am I Optimistic and Pessimistic?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Here's Tyler's list.  Here's mine:1. I am a pessimist about the likelihood of making democracy work better than it does.  We can push the world in a better direction (as Bob Tollison says, "We're all part of the equilibrium"), but... MORE

The noble Michael Clemens is taking the efficient, egalitarian, libertarian, utilitarian way to double world GDP to the masses.  But one passage made me furrow my brow:All the economic and social arguments against immigrant entry to the workforce could be... MORE

David Gordon Responds

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
In a comment on my recent post on the debate between Nick Gillespie/Matt Welch and David Gordon, I challenged David Gordon to give instances where Gillespie and Welch have claimed that one must have certain tastes or attitudes in order... MORE

Do Nick Gillespie/Matt Welch and David Gordon Disagree?

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
I have a different take from Bryan Caplan's on the debate between Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, on the one hand, and David Gordon, on the other. My take is informed by the further discussion that Bryan doesn't mention: Welch's... MORE

Tolerance and the Libertarian Penumbra

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A while back I wrote of the "libertarian penumbra":Libertarians are famous for their internal disagreements, but they have far more beliefs in common than their core position requires.  For starters, even non-consequentialist libertarians generally believe that libertarian policies have good... MORE

Role-Playing Games: Behind Their Time

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In Why Not?, Nalebuff and Ayres draw our attention to inventions that took forever to arrive but seem obvious in retrospect:Think about the innovation of one-way tolls or rolling luggage.  Prewashed lettuce, the ultimate low-tech invention, has become a multibillion-dollar... MORE

Job Satisfaction and Biblical Literalism

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
After my last post, I spent a while playing with the GSS's job satisfaction data.  I tried adding a kitchen sink of regressors to education and log real income: IQ, age, year, race, sex, church attendance, political ideology.  The negative... MORE

"Likes" as Tipping

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
If your work has a tip jar, conventional wisdom tells you to "seed" it.  Before your first customer shows up, put some of your own money in the jar.  When the marginal person sees money in the jar, he'll feel... MORE

Genetics, Politics, Culture, and the Future

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
On Facebook, I opined that boosting libertarians' Total Fertility Rate to 3 is the most realistic long-run path to liberty.  The underlying assumption is that political philosophy, libertarianism included, is fairly heritable.  Will Wilkinson then presented an interesting objection:Even if... MORE

Future of Political Philosophy Bleg

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Will any fundamentally new political philosophy emerge in the Western world during the next fifty years?  If not, why not?  If so, what is it likely to be?... MORE

The Value of Sports

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Commenting on my post on sports, my friend John Goodman said that he was surprised that I am so into sports. People who knew me before I was about 32 are surprised too, one of the main ones being my... MORE

The Greatest American Hero

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
I wrote this one evening in the fall of 1981 after watching an episode of "The Greatest American Hero" in which the key character interacts with the Lone Ranger. I had known nothing ab0ut the show but I was suddenly... MORE

What I'm Reading

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Life, the autobiography of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. On p. 338: Mick would come and visit me occasionally in Switzerland and talk about "economic restructuring." We're sitting around half the time talking about tax lawyers! The intricacies of... MORE

Barbara Branden on Atlas Shrugged

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Along with some other recipients, I received a letter from Barbara Branden last night about her reaction to the movie, Atlas Shrugged. She gave me permission to quote extensively. I couldn't think of anything to cut and so here is... MORE

Libertarian Tribalism

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
In a thought-provoking post on what he calls the libertarian penumbra, Bryan writes, Are there any [beliefs that fall within this penumbra] that make you cringe? I am tempted to say that the question itself is an example of something... MORE

The Libertarian Penumbra

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Libertarians are famous for their internal disagreements, but they have far more beliefs in common than their core position requires.  For starters, even non-consequentialist libertarians generally believe that libertarian policies have good consequences.  Almost all libertarians think that free markets... MORE

The Students for Liberty conference has to be seen to be believed: the attendance (about 500 students), the energy (off the charts), and most remarkably of all, the high social skills.  Twenty years ago, a pack of libertarian students would... MORE

Why Do So Many GMU Economists Blog?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've heard the question many times: "Why do so many GMU economists blog?"  The number and ratio are indeed extraordinary: I count 9 bloggers out of the 28 tenure-line faculty on the department's homepage - not to mention our students... MORE

The Market for Dancers

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
The shortage of men at Edgewater Pointe Estates is a perennial fact of life at retirement communities and nursing homes around the country, where women often outnumber men 3-to-1. Forget finding a mate - finding a man to dance with... MORE

Dead Ends and Double Standards

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Many activities are Dead Ends.  Dead Ends have the following in common:1. They are extremely labor intensive.2. They attract extremely talented and dedicated people.  You have to be absolutely amazing just to be relatively average.3. Despite #1 and #2, Dead... MORE

Washington Snowstorm and Community

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
One of the things I hated most about living in Washington, D.C. during the two-and-a-half years that I was in the Reagan administration was the way almost everyone there "breathed, slept, and ate" government. Of all the people in the... MORE

The Problem with Schools

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Bryan is not the first one to worry about schools. In 1962, John Holland Snow accused the educational establishment of subversion. I believe that an educational movement or philosophy which minimizes or denies the possibility of our people and institutions... MORE

Media Bias Bias

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Question: Why is bias in the media so much more on our minds than bias in the schools?  Both the media and schools are largely in left-wing hands - and the content reflects this fact.  But consider the stark contrast... MORE

Reflections on Freedom in New York

Business Economics
David Henderson
I'm stuck in New York after my early a.m. flight out was cancelled. Because the hotel I was in had no rooms available for tonight, I had to find another hotel. Fortunately, the Holiday Inn Express three short blocks away... MORE

Temptations to Cruelty

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The most bizarre thing about Amy Chua's essay is that she combines contempt for drama with fanatical devotion to music.  School plays are too frivolous for words:[N]o Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, "I got a part... MORE

Political Sentiment

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, The full-blown triumph of political correctness, of hypersensitivity plus one-sided education, is patriotism. A few random comments. 1. Piers Brendon, in The Dark Valley says that Adolf Hitler's policies, although they produced full employment, served to impoverish Germans.... 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

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

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

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

Sociology and Signaling

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Back in 1995, I attended an IHS seminar for graduate students.  We heard some lectures, practiced our public speaking, and did mock interviews.  The last activity was pretty traumatic.  It's hard for a second-year grad student to role-play someone who's... MORE

Lionel McKenzie, RIP

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Lionel McKenzie, the man who started the University of Rochester's Ph.D. program in the 1950s, died last week. He was one of the heavy-hitting contributors to general equilibrium theory. That was never my cup of tea, but when I was... MORE

When Is It Safe to Thumb Your Nose?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A challenge from Robin Hanson:Bryan commented: Modern parents' depend primarily on the market, not other parents - to meet their needs - and parent-on-parent sanctions are small and sporadic in any case. How far Bryan will take this argument?  What... MORE

How Cool!

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Right now I'm on a flight from Dallas to LAX. This is the first time I've been on-line in mid-air. It's fantastic. If you want to see a great 4-minute riff by Louisck that puts everything in perspective, check the... MORE

Tolerance Will Keep Rising: I'll Bet on It!

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In a thoughtful and provocative post, Tyler tells us:Tolerance of gay individuals and alternative lifestyles is at a historic high.  I would not endorse a crude "regression toward the mean" hypothesis, but we should at least try it on for... MORE

Rational Religious Ignorance?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
People aren't just rationally ignorant about politics and economics; they also seem to be rationally ignorant about religion.  The latest Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll weighed, measured, and found wanting the religious knowledge of over 3000 adult... MORE

Markets for Everything, Including Bad Grammar

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Gun Control is when you keep firearms plus guns away from people. Many people think that gun control is right because they think keeping people away from guns will reduce the amount of deaths each year. They also think that... MORE

Klein, Laughter, and the Academy

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Dan Klein considers, then rejects, the analogy between male nurses and non-left professors:In their paper, Gross and Fosse are suggesting that men don't want to become nurses because people will giggle at that. Perhaps there is something to that. There... MORE

Immigrants and American Culture

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
While preparing for my upcoming talk on immigration, I decided to flesh out my claim that states with lots of immigrants are cultural beacons, and states with few immigrants are boring cultural wastelands.  It's even more true than I thought. ... MORE

Murphy on Discrimination

Labor Market
David Henderson
This month's Feature Article on Econlib, by economist Robert Murphy, is the nicest succinct article I've seen on how free markets make people pay a price for the kind of discrimination that most people abhor. He points out also that... MORE

The Social Science of German Gaming

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Undercover Economist Tim Harford puts Germany's mighty gaming industry/culture under his detective's magnifying glass.  Here's five theories: human capital, weak competition from television, tradition/weirdness, low concentration ratios, and Great Man: "There are two schools of thought as to why the Germans... MORE

Sympathetic Self-Interest Quotes

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I'm looking for a sympathetic quote about self-interest to open Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  The main quotes from Smith are too ponderous, and the main quotes from Rand are too off-putting.  Suggestions?Update: I think J. Daniel Wright's Hamlet... MORE

The Productiveness of Conversation: My Ranking

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Reading the Reason debate between Brink Lindsey, Jonah Goldberg, and Matt Kibbe inspired me to rank how productive I find conservations with the following groups.  #1 = "most productive"; #6 = "least productive":1. Libertarian economists2. Conservative economists3. Libertarian non-economists4. Liberal... MORE

Celebrate Diversity, But Don't Ever Talk About It

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
In a blog post earlier this month, Bob Murphy told of his dilemma with his 5-year-old son and race. Rather than repeating the short story here, I'll let you click on the link. The one part I'll repeat is that... MORE

Say It Loud, Say It Proud

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you were in marketing, would you take this advice?1. To "raise the status of intelligence and analytical thinking," don't......stand for instrumental rationality, for Science, for attitudes which go beyond traditional religion, for the conquering of limits, for probabilistic reasoning,... MORE

Conscientiousness and Poverty: African Edition

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A while back, I praised Rothbard's view that low conscientiousness is a major cause of poverty.  Today Nicholas Kristof discusses especially grisly African examples:[I]f the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes... MORE

The Inner Life of Julian Simon

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
To my sorrow, I missed my chance to meet Julian Simon.  He lived just minutes away from me, but died during my first year at Mason.  I don't think he would have won the Nobel Prize even if he lived... MORE

Preference Falsification: A Case Study

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you haven't read Timur Kuran's Private Truths, Public Lies, you should.  It's a classic of "obvious once you think about it" social science.  In the face of social pressure - or brute force - people pretend to believe and... MORE

Marxism as a Senile Industry

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've never forgotten Frederick Copleston's blunt take on Marxism's 20th-century success in volume 7 of A History of Philosophy:[Marxism] is accepted, doubtless with varying degrees of conviction, by a great many people today.  At the same time it is arguable... MORE

The Origin of the Word "Relationship"

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
To my ears, the word "relationship" has long sounded like psycho-babble invented circa 1950.  It's hard to imagine anyone in the 19th-century discussing their "relationships."  Tonight I decided to finally investigate my hypothesis.  I was almost dead on: According to... MORE

The Economics of Cities

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Edward L. Glaeser and Joshua D. Gottlieb survey the fundamental economics questions about cities, including why they exist. Cities are ultimately nothing more than proximity, so the returns to urban concentration can be seen as reductions in transport costs. ...a... MORE

How Free Markets Make Bad Behavior Costly

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Although she [Ayn Rand] was normally generous in her responses to general audiences, NBI [Nathaniel Branden Institute] students were held to higher standards. Rand was likely to denounce anyone who asked inappropriate or challenging questions "as a person of low... MORE

What is Maturity - and Who's Got It?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Like most interesting words, "maturity" is hard to define.  The most literal definition is just "how much you act like an adult."  But since adult behavior varies widely, and we often call some adults "immature," that's not very helpful.  As... MORE

Obesity and Dominance Reconsidered

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Robin chastises:Yet it is completely crazy to imagine that fat folks have not yet heard that fat might be unhealthy or unattractive.  Believe me, they've heard!  If they are choosing to be fat, they are doing so reasonably informed of... MORE

Capitalism and the Jews

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
My co-blogger, Arnold Kling, posted yesterday on American Jews and politics. I found the articles interesting, but I wonder if any of the Commentary writers are aware of Milton Friedman's attempt to explain why Jews, who have done so well... MORE

Sumner Digest

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Sumner's latest mini-essay is a thing of beauty.  Highlights:1. Sumner on the Fundamental Attribution Non-Error:I think we all listen to our friends, relatives, and colleagues complain about their predicament, and then silently think, "Well what do they expect?  Their predicament... MORE

Mass Sterilization, Reconsidered

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Last week Tyler entertained this hypothetical: "A freak solar event 'sterilizes' the half of the planet (people, animals, etc) facing the sun. What happens?"  His answer:I would predict the collapse of many fiat currencies and the immediate insolvency of most... MORE

Day Break as Social Experiment

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I highly recommend the one-season wonder Day Break to fans of social science.  It starts as a standard crime conspiracy: A cop framed for murder tries to clear his name.  Then we get the twist: He's in a time loop. ... MORE

Brooks's Hit on Capitalism

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
In a widely cited column last week, New York Times columnist David Brooks put capitalism as the first cause of the lack of dignity in modern American society. He wrote: First, there is capitalism. We are all encouraged to become... MORE

Idolatry in a Free Society

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've spent several days reflecting on my chairman's reaction to public grief over Michael Jackson's death:I, for one, am no more touched by Mr. Jackson's death than I am by the death of any of the thousands of other Americans... MORE

Favorite Economics Dialogues in Movies

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
Here's one of mine, from Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. It's about one of the most important things economics deals with--incentives. Lisa (played by Grace Kelly) and Jeff (played by Jimmy Stewart), are listening to a man in another apartment play... MORE

I've repeatedly encountered the following social conservative meme, most recently in an argument over the Mark Sanford affair:We've got to stop acting like hypocrites are the worst thing in the world.  At least hypocrites have moral standards; they're just not... MORE

Genetics and the Future of Religion

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Religiosity is partly genetic, and the religious are out-breeding the secular.  It follows, then, that societies will get more religious over time.  But over at Gene Expression, Razib argues that while the premises are true, the conclusion is false.  He... MORE

The Shield: Social Intelligence Gets Ugly

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I just finished the final episode of The Shield, FX's drama about a squad of corrupt LA cops.  I loved every episode.  At risk of alienating people who will share my evaluation, The Shield is like The Wire, except it's... MORE

Economics and Modernity

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Before I came to GMU, I would have completely agreed with David Friedman's economic take-down of modern culture:Suppose you are the two hundred and ninetieth city planner in the history of the world. All the good ideas have been used,... MORE

Stocks, Flows, and Friendship

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
When a good friend hurts your feelings, what do you do?  I normally chalk it up to miscommunication, and silently forgive them in my heart.  But I seem to be in a minority here.  I often see friends grow apart... MORE

You Will Know the Disgrace

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Battlestar Galactica spoilers!]The series finale of Battlestar Galactica was a disgrace.  Contrary to the propaganda, we still don't "Know the truth," but I'm now confident that the writers didn't actually construct any truth for us to know.  All fanboy... MORE

The Art of Equanimity

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Alan Moore notoriously refuses to watch the film adaptations of his graphic novels.  His main rationale:If a thing works well in one medium, in the medium that it has been designed to work in, then the only possible point for... MORE

Is U.S. Defamation Law Going Singaporean?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Law prof legend Richard Epstein just escaped a ridiculous defamation suit.  His offense was writing the following blurb for the back cover of Bulldozed: "Kelo," Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land:Like a Greek tragedy unfolding, Carla Main's book... MORE

Two Observations on Milk

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I normally dislike movies based on true stories, but Milk is genuinely good.  Two observations and a question:Observation 1.  I was disappointed that the infamous "Twinkie defense" and the Szaszian critique thereof got virtually no attention in the movie.  What... MORE

The Power of Love

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
[warning: spoiler] Big Love, HBOs transcendentally excellent polygamy drama, is back for its third season.  I've praised it often enough (here and here for starters), but the last show was too good not to blog.  In this episode, Don Embry,... MORE

The Psychology of Gran Torino

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Eastwood's Gran Torino is a love letter to what psychologist John Ray calls "the old-fashioned personality."  (Here's my quick intro to the paper).  Who else but Eastwood could so compellingly dramatize Ray's conclusion that "when pejorative assumptions are discarded, the... MORE

Lindbeck, Weibull, and God

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Modern American Catholics reject many Catholic teachings:According to a recent Gallup Poll, 78 percent of American Catholics support allowing Catholics to use birth control, 63 percent think priests should be able to marry, and 55 percent think women should be... MORE

Where Are All the Jerks in My Life?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Do you deal with unpleasant, petty, and/or vicious people during your typical day?  I don't.  As far as I can tell, I personally know a strangely small number of jerks.  As an econo-nerd, of course, I can't just be thankful... MORE

Twilight of the Twilight of the Gods

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've been an opera fan for two decades, and I've never heard of macroeconomic events affecting the world of opera - until now.  The DC Opera is cancelling (or at least delaying) the American Ring:"Seven years ago, Washington National Opera... MORE

What the Bail-Out Crowded Out

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Amidst all the chaos, I forgot to remind readers about the premiere of season 3 of the incomparable Dexter. (Here are all my previous posts on the show). If you like drama infused with philosophy, psychology, and (of course) economics,... MORE

Fear of Looking Rich Redux

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A while back I questioned Robin Hanson's view that virtually everyone wants to imitate the rich in order to raise their status. Robin recently told me that he's "updated," so I'll stop calling it "Robin Hanson's view." But I still... MORE

Tom Strong, Compelling Coasean Comics Character

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
With The Watchman movie coming out in March, you're going to be hearing an awful lot about the writing of Alan Moore. Despite all the publicity, though, his lesser-known Tom Strong series won't be getting much attention. And that's a... MORE

The Secret of Good Games

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Next week, I'll be in Indianapolis for GenCon, the world's biggest gaming convention. Which reminds me of one of my pet theories: The best games are inter-disciplinary, combining economics and psychology. Games of pure strategic reasoning like chess are dry.... MORE

Immigrant Directors

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
One of the best paths to success in Hollywood these days is to direct an obscure foreign film. Angelina Jolie's latest movie is directed by Timur Bekmambetov, whose Night Watch was seen by everyone in Russia, plus me and Tyler... MORE

What Life Experience Taught Me About Religion

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
It's very unpleasant to be an irreligious kid in a religious family. Every week - if not more often - you have to remain silent in the presence of dogmatic nonsense. You can't even get things off your chest during... MORE

Riptopia is Time is Money

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Heard of Riptopia? It's a CD-to-mp3 conversion service - just what every iPod junkie needs. Good news: I've tried it, and it works. Here's how: You buy it on Amazon, and they send you some CD spindles. You fill the... MORE

Don't Call Me a Philistine

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Unlike the last French arthouse movie I saw, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is excellent. If, like me, you find it hard to believe that the average quadriplegic is fairly happy, this movie will convince you. In fact, it... MORE

How to Be Mr. Popular When You're Old

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
When I'm old, I want to be the octogenarian that the Young Turks come to with their crazy new ideas. I don't want to be the senior professor that the whippersnapper assistant profs avoid. Above all else, I never want... MORE

Western Culture: Crisis of Confidence?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
From Mark Steyn's paranoid but enviably well-written America Alone:The question for today's Europe is whether the primary identity of their fastest-growing demographic is Muslim or Belgian, Muslim or Dutch, Muslim or French. That's where civilizational confidence comes in: if "Dutchness"... MORE

Flight of the Red Balloon: Don't Believe the Hype

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The one good thing about this boring, boring movie was walking out!... MORE

Stepping on Will's Toes

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Will Wilkinson's not too happy with my lecture on "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids." Frankly, we seem to be talking past each other, but I think it's worth trying one more time. From his latest comments, point-by-point:There are perfectly... MORE

Two New Fun Lectures

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've just uploaded two new talks to my "Fun Lectures" webpage: 1. Lecture notes for my Friday FEE/GMU Econ Society seminar, "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids." If you were at the talk, reports on any change in your desired... MORE

Married with 19 Kids = Single & Childless

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Happiness researchers usually find that kids have a negative effect on happiness. By the time the result gets blogged, it's tempting to say, as Will Wilkinson does, that "children make us miserable." But how big is the estimated effect of... MORE

Econ Prof Lead Character in New Movie

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The most fascinating characters in the world are econ profs, but you'd never guess this from watching feature films. So on one level I'm happy to see that The Visitor, which arrives in theaters tomorrow, dares to make its protagonist... MORE

My Views on Optimal Family Size: Some Clarifications

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Kerry Howley has some thoughtful doubts about my ongoing debate with Will Wilkinson. And happily they're easy to address one at a time: 1. Here's Kerry:I’m perplexed, though, by Bryan’s statement that “most people are hyper-aware of the important arguments... MORE

The Debaters: A Childishly Long Reply to Will

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Will Wilkinson has a lot to say about my views about kids - and as you know, I'm never one to avoid a friendly debate. So get ready for my point-by-point reply: 1. Will says I misintepreted his original point.... MORE

Perceived Duty to Have Children, by Gender

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
At risk of provoking more psycho-analysis... In 1996, the GSS asked: If the husband in a family wants children, but the wife decides that she does not want any children, is it all right for the wife to refuse to... MORE

Is Family Size a Gendered Issue?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
All-around nice guy Will Wilkinson takes me to task for my defense of Jamie-Lynn Spears. Will starts with a little psycho-analysis:But I’m afraid the theory is at bottom mostly a theory of why Bryan thinks his wife should have more... MORE

Jamie-Lynn Spears' Pregnancy: What's the Problem?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A lot of folks are outraged that Jamie-Lynn Spears is pregnant. I fail to see the problem. Jamie-Lynn is clearly not going on welfare; her single motherhood will not financially burden any of the people who are complaining. And at... MORE

Modernity and the Gender Gap: It's Counter-Intutive

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A while back on blogged on the fascinating fact that the religious gender gap is bigger in more advanced societies. In societies where men and women are "socialized" to be the same, they are actually more religiously different. (In case... MORE

Jefferson Against Newspapers

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
When I was reading some famous quotes about newspapers, I came across Jefferson's famous line that, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate... MORE

A Result I Was Happy to Hear

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I often go to movies alone. Tyler convinced me to try, and I haven't looked back. So naturally I'm delighted to hear that S.C Noah Uhrig has found that "Cinema Is Good for You":Using data from wave 12 of the... MORE

Emerson on Tipping Charity

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Over at the Freakonomics blog, Ian Ayres lists Emerson as a famous opponent of tipping, and offers this quote as evidence:I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, yet it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have... MORE

The Root Causes of Divorce: The Usual Suspects

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Reading Tim Harford's "Is Divorce Underrated?" in The Logic of Life got me wondering about the root causes of divorce. I want to create a list of "main" root causes, not partition logical space; at the same time, I want... MORE

In The Logic of Life, Tim Harford repeats an argument about divorce that I've often heard economists make. One of the challenges that Gary Becker tackled, he explains, is the sharp increase in divorce. Tim goes on:Some commentators have blamed... MORE

How I Would Advertise Nip/Tuck in the AER

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Last time I checked, there weren't any ads for popular DVDs in the American Economic Review. But after watching the first few discs of plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck, I feel inspired to write a pulpy pitch for economists. Here goes:Watch...... MORE

Birth Order and Safety

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
All the parents of multiple children I know admit that they stress less about - and do less for - the later arrivals: "We went crazy baby-proofing when we had our first baby; but by the time his sister came... MORE

Gary Gygax, RIP

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons and the father of the thousands of role-playing games it spawned, has died. And while I think he made a bundle off of his ideas, he only got a small fraction of the... MORE

There's a Name for What I Am

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
It's "kidult":While many people in their forties have families and responsibilities, an increasing minority still resemble teenagers. Scary, wrinkled, grey-haired teenagers, with some kind of terrifying premature ageing disease, but teenagers nonetheless. It’s enough of a phenomenon to have been... MORE

Who Says Economics Causes Asperger's?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Patri son of David son of Milton begins by approvingly quoting Stu:When I have a problem that concerns one of my kids... I could visualize my child standing on the other side of a line, next to "The Problem", with... MORE

The Case for Kids: What I'm Up Against

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
"Why are People Having Fewer Kids? Perhaps it's because they don't like them very much." That's the title of Ron Bailey's latest piece which very bluntly says what I suspect a lot of people are thinking:[M]odernity essentially transforms children from... MORE

The State of the Arts: Cowen Was Right

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I first read a draft of Tyler Cowen's In Praise of Commercial Culture 15 years ago. Back then, I thought he was mostly crazy. A combination of my reverence for classical music and Randian contempt for modern culture made me... MORE

If you write extensively, you've probably had the following experience: You sit down to work on a project, but the good words don't flow. Either you're blocked, or you repeatedly write and erase. Four hours later, you have nothing to... MORE

Writers' Strike Brings Great Writing to Network TV

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
A strange unintended consequence of the writers' strike: Dexter is coming to network TV! Given the shortage of programming, CBS worked out a deal with Showtime to air the controversial, beautifully written series. Of course there's going to be some... MORE

Miscommunication with Megan

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Megan McArdle's not happy with my defense of men against the charge of shirking on housework. If I held the view she ascribes to me - "that the partner in a marriage who cares less about something should always win"... MORE

How Can Guys Be So Lazy Around the House?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The Economist blog shares one of its "favourite strategies for ramping down the gender war":Men don't need to do more housework and childcare to achieve equality. Women just need to do less. My dad used to change the oil in... MORE

Randian Scene of the Year in There Will Be Blood

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I just saw There Will Be Blood, and I can't stop thinking about it. The best scene is amazingly Randian for a movie based on an Upton Sinclair novel. Set-up: Daniel Plainview, the atheist oilman played by Daniel Day-Lewis, needs... MORE

The Old-Fashioned Personality

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The holidays are the perfect time to step back and ponder the generation gap. How can people born forty years before you (or forty years after you) seem like they come from another world? If you're looking for answers, I... MORE

Paternomics: Levitt's Parenting vs. Mine

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I can't believe how much I disagree with Steve Levitt's goals as a father. Here's a line-by-line contrast:[Steve] I care most about raising kids who are happy and successful as adults, even if that happens to mean that they aren’t... MORE

Dexter and Dostoyevsky

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
After watching the finale of its second season, I'm ready to stick my neck out and say that Dexter is the best show in the history of television. As an aficionado of plot, I am in awe; but it excels... MORE

Robin was very impressed by Malcolm Gladwell's piece on IQ and the Flynn effect in The New Yorker. I wasn't; Gladwell leaves out a lot. (He also falsely attributes a bizarre view to Murray and Herrnstein, which the magazine has... MORE

Taste for Variety

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Am I the only Saw fan in the world who thinks that Enchanted is the best movie of 2007? P.S. The movie is far better than the trailer.... MORE

Men of Respect

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Seen through the lens of men's rights, this quote (from Do I Want to Be a Mom?) is unintentionally outrageous:My youngest son just turned eighteen. This is when you want them to develop opinions and morals and hopefully somewhere in... MORE

The Posnerian View of Human Nature

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Here's a great Posnerian sentence:I would be inclined to search as hard as possible for nonmoral costs before concluding that morality is a major motivator of behavior, especially with regard to crimes, like tax evasion, that do not have an... MORE

Six Months of Intellectual Anthropology

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Tyler makes a spot-on plea to meet people before you write about them:I'd like to propose a new research convention. Anytime a writer or blogger talks about what The Right or The Left (or some subset thereof) really wants or... MORE

Is Gender a Big Deal?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Many psychologists embrace the "gender similarities hypothesis" - the view that we tend to overstate the differences between men and women. My colleague Garett Jones pointed out a thorough meta-analysis by Janet Hyde, claiming that - with the exceptions of... MORE

Experimental Game Theory at HeroCon

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you want to role-play and study social science at the same time, don't miss this weekend's HeroCon in Glen Burnie, Maryland. (FYI: This is a convention for the Hero System role-playing game, not the NBC show Heroes). Admittedly, there... 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

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

Learn Social Science at the Grocery Checkout

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Another Baumeister gem:One test of what’s meaningfully real is the marketplace. It’s hard to find anybody making money out of gender differences in abilities. But in motivation, there are plenty. Look at the magazine industry: men’s magazines cover different stuff... MORE

Understanding Gender

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
If you read nothing else about gender this year, read "Is There Anything Good About Men?" by Roy Baumeister. It's wonderful from beginning to end. Highlights:When I say I am researching how culture exploits men, the first reaction is usually... MORE

The Sociology of RPGs: A Case Study in Cultural Growth

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
On recommendation of fellow gamer (and noted sociologist) Fabio Rojas, I've just read Gary Fine's Shared Fantasy: Role-Playing Games as Social Worlds. The book's 25 years old, but still remarkably fresh. You've got to love this passage:Because of their complexity,... MORE

"Inessential Weirdness": Nothing Is More Essential

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Democrats who study public opinion usually conclude that if their party wants to win elections, it should focus on populist economic policies, and ditch the culture wars. Over at Class Matters, an activist independently reaches the same conclusion: Left-wing activists... MORE

A Sociologist Gamer on the Sociology of Gaming

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
GenCon ended yesterday, but I've already been scooped by the competition - noted sociologist and legendary Pandaemonium Game Master Fabio Rojas. Don't miss his amusing comparison between GenCon and the American Sociological Association. Highlights: * ASA: People study socially marginal... MORE

You Call This Atomism?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I'm puzzled where Arnold gets the idea that I'm an "atomist." Was it Tyler who wrote this?Perhaps the greatest truth about human nature that you do not find in the typical economics textbook is that people are sheep. Most human... MORE

Economic Elitism Thought Experiment

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
In this interview for The American, Tyler Cowen speaks of many things. I believe he uses a term like "idea junkie" to describe the type of person who reads books by Gladwell, Levitt, and so on. He talks about the... MORE

Opera versus the NFL

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
According to Russ Roberts:Annual [opera] admissions are now estimated at 20 million, roughly the same attendance as NFL football games (22 million, including playoffs, in 2006–07).I'm incredulous. How can a hobby enjoyed by me and a few octogenarians be competitive... MORE

Aging Rockers vs. the Long Tail

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Marie Connolly and Alan B. Krueger write, Concert revenues became markedly more skewed in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1982, the top 1 percent of artists took in 26 percent of concert revenue; by 2003 that figure reached 56 percent.... MORE

Conventional Reflections

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My Comic-Con epiphany: Economics doesn't really have superstars. Even if Adam Smith himself showed up at the American Economic Association meetings, he wouldn't have thousands of economists fall on their knees in awe. But that's basically what happened at Comic-Con... MORE

Scott McCloud is often called "the smartest man in comics," but how does he measure up in economics? In his Reinventing Comics, McCloud re-invents the wheel of path-dependence to explain the dominance of superheroes in the American comics industry. McCloud's... MORE

Freakonomics: The T.V. Series

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Jane Galt doesn't think you could have a good t.v. show about journalists at the Economist:But even if you rely heavily on political or human-interest plotlines, there is no way to make a whole show about journalists work on television.... MORE

The Demographic Transition

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, The puzzle of declining family size in the face of rising wealth remains. Since I'm currently steeped in Gregory Clark, let me throw in my two cents. From Clark, we learn that in England: 1. Prior to the... MORE

Who Wants More Kids?, Part II

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The GSS asks: "What do you think is the ideal number of children for a family to have?" So who wants more - men or women? Survey says: Women want .05 children more. That's a lot smaller difference than my... MORE

Who Wants More Kids?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
It may well be the biggest puzzle in evolutionary psychology: Why do humans have fewer kids when they get richer, when their extra resources allow them to support more? Robin blogs a new explanation from Ted Bergstrom:Because of a genetic... MORE

Beyond the Pale

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Mankiw writes:Kinsley and Libby share two, significant characteristics: They are both very smart, and they both care deeply about public policy. I am willing to bet that if they ever sat down over a cup of coffee, they would like... MORE

Transporting Success

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Over at Free Exchange, I ask "What's the best way to transport success?": Purely hypothetically, suppose you’ve written a pretty successful book published by Princeton University Press, and been favorably profiled in The New York Times Magazine and The Economist.... MORE

Has the Internet Helped the Socially Awkward?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Would you feel uncomfortable striking up a conversation with a stranger? How about over the Internet? If you're like me, you're a lot more outgoing over the Internet than you are in real life. At the same time, though, I... MORE

Contrarian Result of the Day

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
One of my best friends at Princeton was Gordon Dahl. He's the kind of guy who never says anything stronger than "My goodness." His favorite show, as far as I recall, was "Touched By An Angel." But now he's got... MORE

The first draft of my graphic novel, Amore Infernale, is now complete. To say that it would be cool to have it illustrated and published is a great understatement. It would be... the coolest thing in the history of mankind!... MORE

Romney: A Failure of Imagination

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Mitt Romney: "I cannot imagine anything more awful than polygamy." Here's the clip, with Steven Colbert's hysterical response. Which reminds me: Season two of Big Love starts in June. If you missed the first season, see it ASAP. P.S. Have... MORE

Most Bizarre Sentence Ever?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
From Brad DeLong: I don't know what I am going to say. I'm tempted to try a comparison of four intellectuals at four different moments in western print-culture: William of Occam, Niccolo Machiavelli, Adam Smith, and Tyler Cowen.... MORE

Libertyman

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I just came across a surprising bit of libertarian trivia that didn't appear in Brian Doherty's magnum opus. Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spiderman, was a self-identified Objectivist. He even created two explicitly ideological superheroes. The first, the Question, inspired... MORE

Fighting the Religious Gender Gap

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The GodMen, a group striving to make religion more masculine, is doing its best to fight the religious gender gap. Will they have any long-term success? Consider me a Doubting Thomas.... MORE

Building a Better Idiot

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Let me join Tyler and Steve Sailer in recommending the very funny Idiocracy. If you're interested in intelligence research and/or behavioral genetics and have a sense of humor, you'll have a big smile on your face. I know I did.... MORE

And a Child Shall Lead Them

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Over vacation, we stayed with my brother's family at his cabin in Lake Arrowhead. In this slightly cramped space, my brother and I kept trying to watch the extended cut of Gladiator. Unfortunately, my four-year-old sons kept trying to watch... MORE

I Wish I Wrote That

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
No, it's not an article in a top econ journal, it's the season finale of Dexter. It's permeated by the best of economics, philosophy, and psychology, with plotting worthy of Victor Hugo. If Immanuel Kant came back from the dead,... MORE

"Jewish Media" Proves Extremely Fair

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Director Mel Gibson's infamous anti-semitic rant notwithstanding, Apocalypto has gotten stellar reviews. It's practically straight out of The Onion. P.S. Saw it last night. Amazing despite its simple linear plot. I think Mel's hate speech has cost him multiple Oscars.... MORE

A Kuranian Take on the Religious Gender Gap

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Last week I stumbled upon a little gem outside of Larry Iannaccone's office: a chapter by Rodney Stark and Alan Miller on the religious gender gap. Long story short: Women are more religious than men by virtually every measure in... MORE

The Far-Seeing Arnold

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I just noticed that, four years ago, my co-blogger asked "Is blogging a fad?" Using a simple model, he stuck his neck out and said: No. Good call, Arnold!... MORE

Milton Friedman: The Man Who Laughs

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Mark Skousen has a great picture and a great story about one of Milton's last big laughs. Don't miss it! P.S. In Forbes (registration required), Skousen explains that Galbraith was Photoshopped into the picture as a joke.... MORE

Polygamy: Facts Not Fear

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Arnold writes: I suspect that a major factor driving envy of the rich is a deep-seated male fear of losing the mating game. My hypothesis is that the irrational resentment that many men feel over the high pay of CEO's... MORE

Suburban Happiness

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Counter-examples to the claim that happiness research pushes for left-wing policies keep multiplying. It's well-known that social interaction is an important cause of happiness. Now it looks like suburban sprawl - the bane of leftist land use activitists - is... MORE

More on Fundamentalist Divorce

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I went back to the drawing board on fundamentalist divorce rates to check out a couple readers' hypotheses. The findings: 1. Excluding people who have never been married, fundamentalists are - as the stereotype would predict - less likely to... MORE

Found: A False Stereotype About Fundamentalists

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Larry Iannaccone notwithstanding, the main stereotypes about fundamentalist Christians check out. But yesterday at lunch I heard a startling alleged counter-example from Alex Tabarrok, and I've confirmed it with the GSS: Contrary to stereotypes, fundamentalists are as likely to get... MORE

See Saw III... If You've Got Nothing Better to Do

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I'm a huge fan of the original Saw, and the first sequel was also quite good. The latest installment is watchable, but it's too heavy on gore and not strong enough on story and characterization. The only novelty of Saw... MORE

The Fundamentalist Stereotype: A Vindication

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday my colleague Larry Iannaccone, the world's leading expert on the Economics of Religion, gave a provocative lecture on Christian fundamentalism. His thesis: Almost all the stereotypes about this group are false. Now I'm one of those people who believes... MORE

Policing Economic Illiteracy

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Jane Galt is going Dirty Harry on economic illiteracy on t.v. It's good to have another honest cop on the streets.... MORE

A Black Gamer Speaks

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Over at the Hero System discussion boards, there's been a long-running thread asking whether "people of color play role-playing games?" One vignette from a black gamer really struck me, and it's full of grist for the social science mill: IMHO,... MORE

Cities and Educated Elites

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Richard Florida writes, Today, a demographic realignment that may prove just as significant is under way: the mass relocation of highly skilled, highly educated, and highly paid Americans to a relatively small number of metropolitan regions, and a corresponding exodus... MORE

Homage to Catalonia

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
As far as I'm concerned, all the jokes about economists "lacking the personality to be accountants" fall flat. The truth is, we're the life of the world's intellectual party. In evidence, I present this hysterical set of pics from the... MORE

Theory of the Hooligan Firm

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
There's a lot of grist for the social science mill in the soccer hooligan drama Green Street Hooligans. Starring Elijah Wood, in a performance good enough to make you forget Frodo for the duration, it tells the story of an... MORE

Economics and charity runs

Economics and Culture
Eric Crampton
Dan Bakkedahl, Daily Show Correspondent, reports on Paul, a fellow in Boston who's frequently inconvenienced by the "Walkanazis"(follow the link to the "Look who's walking, too" video): the perpetual stream of charity runs and walks that stop him from taking... MORE

My Fake Economist Article

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
As you probably know, I am an openly nerdy man. These days, my nerdiest activity is being the Game Master for a bunch of economists who pretend to be super-heroes. No joke! We use my modified version of the Hero... MORE

Kaplin's Simplifiid Speling

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Greg Mankiw speculates that a world language will emerge, it will be either English or Chinese, and smart money says English will win. The interesting thing to me is that is it hard to become literate in either of the... MORE

An Economist's Guide to Happier Parenting

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Happiness research hits a lot of nerves, but the finding that kids don't make people happier may be the unkindest cut of all. As a proponent of having more kids, I could make methodological objections, but the truth is, I... MORE

Are You Big Enough to Tolerate Polygamy?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I just saw the season finale of Big Love, HBO's path-breaking dramatic series about a family of polygamists. I can't remember the last time I saw such a fresh artistic depiction of capitalist acts between consenting adults. I won't give... MORE

Tyler on Art Subsidies

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
The interview is here. I still think it's the case that when we come to, say, our tax system, and we ask ourselves, "Are we committed to the view that every tax rate on everything has to be the same?"... MORE

Waiting for Atlas

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Rumors of an Atlas Shrugged movie are once again circulating, and Brangelina may star. My dream is for Peter Jackson to make this his next trilogy. He can even recycle most of King Kong's New York! Hat tip to Catallarchy.... MORE

The Promise: See You Opening Day?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My favorite foreign director, Chen Kaige, has a new movie, The Promise, coming to U.S. theaters on May 5. He's best-known for Farewell My Concubine, which follows a duo of Chinese opera stars from their childhood in the 1920's, to... MORE

The Verdict on V for Vendetta

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I had a good time, but V for Vendetta was a disappointment. The heroes weren't anarchists, and the villains weren't really fascists - just jerks. And they cut the best scene from the book: V's dialogue with Madame Justice. (Check... MORE

Debate vs. Theater

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
David Friedman writes, Many years ago, when I was the guest on a show whose host I knew, I was struck by how much less pleasant a person he was on the air than off. I concluded that he was... MORE

Tyler Cowen, Unplugged

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
He says, the President’s tax commission came up with a proposal to reduce tax deductions for some kinds of nonprofit organizations. In my view, that would be a mistake. I have a Tocquevillean sympathy for the proliferation of intermediate institutions... MORE

Delayed Marriage, Declining Fertility

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
A book chapter by Francesco Billari says, In 1980, in most countries [the report is on Europe], first marriage was experienced on average before age 25 for women: only a few exceptions existed. This pattern completely changed in the next... MORE

A Patriarchy Complex?

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Phillip Longman writes, Advanced societies are growing more patriarchal, whether they like it or not. In addition to the greater fertility of conservative segments of society, the rollback of the welfare state forced by population aging and decline will give... MORE

Thou Shalt Be Leftist

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Is that the 11th Commandment? My latest essay wonders if Jews have a Moses Complex Not every misfortune that occurs in society is a replay of Pharaoh's enslavement of the Jews. The Exodus narrative can always be tried on, but... MORE

An Implausible Randian Correlation Checks Out

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
One of the countless criticisms of Ayn Rand's novels is that she makes all her heroes good-looking and all her villains ugly. That's not quite true - Floyd Ferris is known as "that good-looking scientist" - but it's close. It... MORE

Punk Songs for Classical Liberals

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Russ Roberts gives me the lead-in I've been waiting for: I was talking to my students last night about inspirational education—writing or music that not only informs but inspires. And I wondered out loud with them about why there isn't... MORE

At First Glance: Bias in the Media

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Economists have done some sophisticated work on media bias. For example, Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo have a neat paper, "A Measure of Media Bias," that compares the think tanks that politicians and the media cite. They find that the... MORE

Mozart: An Ultimate Resource

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Tyler Cowen has urged all bloggers to give Mozart his props this week. Here goes: Dear Wolfgang: I am very sorry I didn't get the chance to meet you. But you'll be happy to know that I have probably heard... MORE

The Censors of Ghost Town

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Howard Stern premiered today on Sirius satellite radio, and I couldn't be happier. I don't find Stern funny. I don't subscribe to Sirius. But this move is another market-driven nail in the coffin of the censors at the FCC. These... MORE

Salvaging Secularization

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Sociologists have been saying funeral rites for religion for over a century. Either it's already dying out, or its just about to have a heart attack - a claim known as the "secularization hypothesis." My debating partner Larry Iannaccone and... MORE

Dear Adbusters: While your publication seems to have little use for neoclassical economics professors, there is at least one topic where you have my sympathy. Like you, I find most advertising to be extremely painful. Commercial radio, with its shrill... MORE

Chomsky Sci-Fi: They Live

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Way back in 1988, I saw John Carpenter's They Live, and last night, I watched it again. The plot: Aliens have infiltrated our society, and are brain-washing us by infusing pop culture with subliminal messages like "Obey," "Consume," "Watch TV,"... MORE

See Saw II

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The sequel to Saw, the greatest fictional exploration of the Prisoners' Dilemma ever, is finally here, and it's fantastic too. It isn't as easy to pigeonhole the sick games being played this time around, but Saw II's got the original's... MORE

The Economics of Inheritance in Vanity Fair

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The latest movie version of William Thackeray's Vanity Fair is more than watchable, and I don't think there's ever been a "chick flick" with so much economics in it. The basic setup is that poor but brilliant Becky Sharp uses... MORE

Cynicism: Some Value-Added

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
According to Oscar Wilde, "The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Since I believe that Robin Hanson's new short essay on cynicism is free but well worth the read, I can't agree.... 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

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

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

Be Fruitful and Multiply by 1.5

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
This weekend I first heard that according to Jewish tradition, the obligation to "be fruitful and multiply" requires one to have a minimum of one girl and one boy. This claim seems to check out. This got me thinking: What... MORE

E for Excited

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I am now officially excited about the movie version of V for Vendetta, opening this November. In case you haven't heard, V for Vendetta is a supremely excellent graphic novel about an anarchist philosopher's one-man war against a fascist dictatorship... MORE

Capitalism: You Look Marvelous

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The most unintentionally funny magazine in the world is Adbusters. The world's got to be pretty good if the only thing you have left to bemoan is Ronald McDonald. The letters to the editor are a scream - the bitterest... MORE

Pseudo-Fads: A Puzzle

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
When people suddenly start changing their behavior in the same direction, economists presume that prices have changed. If we see that people are driving bigger cars, our knee-jerk guess is that the price of gas has fallen. But there is... MORE

Two Cheers for the Jedi

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Warning: Sith spoilers! It's tough to learn that my mentor Tyler Cowen is a Sith Lord, but I should have seen the signs. Only a Sith could watch the ruthless destruction of the Jedi order, then get on his soapbox... MORE

Martyrs and Gamers

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Silviu Dochia at Corner Solution has an insightful critique of my recent post on Larry Iannaccone and the market for martyrs. In the conclusion of my original piece, I wrote: In other words, for every person willing to die, there... MORE

The Missing Martyrs

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Lawrence Iannaccone is the world's leading researcher on the economics of religion. His work fascinates me, but at the end of the day, I wonder how much of it is true. One juicy tidbit: In "The Market for... MORE

Ayn Rand, Wise Philosopher Despite Some Bad Arguments

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Ayn Rand has some lame philosophical arguments, including a tortured "proof" that "life is the standard of value" and an odd effort to base individual rights on ethical egoism. So how can I maintain that Rand the philosopher is worth... MORE

Ayn Rand, the Russian-American Victor Hugo

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Ayn Rand's novels blend two distinct genres. She fits squarely into the tradition of the Russian philosophical novelists like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. But she is also a plot-rich Romantic in the tradition of Victor Hugo. Some standard features of the... MORE

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