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
A New Theory Explains How Consciousness Evolved Ever since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, evolution has been the grand unifying theory of biology. Yet one of our most important biological traits, consciousness, is rarely studied … Continue reading Is consciousness a solution to information overload?
What I Learned From Tickling Apes Tickling a juvenile chimpanzee is a lot like tickling a child. The ape has the same sensitive spots: under the armpits, on the side, in the belly. He opens his mouth wide, lips relaxed, … Continue reading The animal side of humans