Reciprocation Bias If you are like me, whenever receiving a favor, you too feel an immense need, almost an obligation, to pay it back in kind. If a friend invites you over for dinner, you are almost sure to invite … Continue reading The reciprocity tendency
Rationalizing the “Irrational” Economists are famous for attempting to rationalize seemingly irrational behavior. One of the more extraordinary is Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy’s theory of rational addiction, in which they hypothesized that addicts plan their consumption of addictive goods. … Continue reading Misunderstanding irrationality
Our world outsmarts us When mulling over possible reasons for the alarming nastiness associated with the recent presidential election in the United States, I am reminded of my grade-school bully. Handsome, often charming, superbly athletic, the bully (let’s call him … Continue reading The complexity of social problems
Why Economists Should Start Behaving Like Scientists I welcome the attention that Noah Smith has drawn to two “big think” pieces, one by Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu and the other by myself, which are both cut from the same … Continue reading The empirical revolution
The evolutionary element of markets Economists have been accused of “physics envy”, an obsession with constructing precise mathematical models instead of studying the real, messy, world. But a new book suggests that economists have been looking at the wrong science; … Continue reading The adaptive markets hypothesis
Why Nothing Works Anymore “No… it’s a magic potty,” my daughter used to lament, age 3 or so, before refusing to use a public restroom stall with an automatic-flush toilet. As a small person, she was accustomed to the infrared … Continue reading Does technology serve human users?
Why facts don’t change our minds In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed … Continue reading Reason as an adaptation