Why Republicans Are Happier, Part II

I wrote earlier about Pew research findings that Republicans are happier than Democrats, and, generally, conservatives are happier than liberals. Here was my explanation: I think it’s likely that happy people are more likely to be Republicans, while unhappy people are more likely to be Democrats, for unhappiness gives one an incentive to seek change, and happiness an incentive to resist it. But the causal … Continue reading Why Republicans Are Happier, Part II

“Markets fail; let’s use markets”

That’s a capsule summary of the George Mason University economics department (HT: Brian Hollar): Adjunct professor Arnold Kling offered a terser précis of the GMU way. “My simple way of describing it is that at Chicago they say, ‘Markets work; let’s use markets.’ At Harvard and MIT they say, ‘Markets fail; let’s use government.’ And at George Mason, we say, ‘Markets fail; let’s use markets.’” … Continue reading “Markets fail; let’s use markets”

A Cauldron of Irrationality

Shrinkwrapped discusses the psychological basis for “counterknowledge,” the absurd conspiracy theories that seem to be enjoying more credence these days. We are living in dangerous times. Anxiety over the future and the pace of change (change ushered in by magical technologies that no one can fully understand) naturally produces powerful regressive forces in a culture. Our rationality can be so subtly and easily subverted that … Continue reading A Cauldron of Irrationality

Prisoners’ Dilemmas

A few days ago I talked about flaccid strategies for iterated prisoners’ dilemmas, noting that strategies without retaliation cannot win. I remarked: Many Western leaders seem committed not only to avoiding retaliation but to responding to defection on an opponent’s part with forgiveness and even more extensive cooperation. [Emphasis added.] That inspires a further thought. Robert Alexrod and others have investigated strategies for iterated prisoners’ … Continue reading Prisoners’ Dilemmas

Going for It

David Romer has studied football coaches’ decisions on whether to punt or go for it on fourth down. He has written a paper arguing that, generally, going for it makes much more sense than punting. Yet NFL coaches go for it on fourth down only in very circumscribed situations. This leads Romer to conclude that people often fail to choose the most rational option to … Continue reading Going for It