Summing up: the year of irrationality

Brandon says I’ve got one last chance to write his favorite post of the year. But it’s the end of a long semester and I’m brain dead, so I’m just going to free ride on his idea: a year end review. If I were to sum up the theme of this year in a word, that word … Continue reading Summing up: the year of irrationality

From the Comments: What *are* the institutions that promote rational ignorance?

Rick answers my question: Let’s go a step further than institutions: Instincts.* Our ancestors survived a dangerous natural environment by taking on genetic strategies that allow us to use our big-old-dolphin-brains in clever ways, but that falls short of perfect Spock-ness. We are easily excited by certain things and will often answer easier questions than … Continue reading From the Comments: What *are* the institutions that promote rational ignorance?

Rational ignorance and institutions

I’m grading a question I gave to my class on rational ignorance so I’ve been restating myself repeatedly… and in doing so refining my view on rational ignorance. Here’s the basic story: an election is forthcoming and we need to decide how we will vote. One possibility is that we follow heuristics (such as “I’m going to … Continue reading Rational ignorance and institutions

Rational Ignorance, Fairy Dust and Pissing Away the Future: Libertarians are Selfish and Stupid

Originally posted on FACTS MATTER:
Hello all, I thought I’d take up Dr J’s invitation to write something for his blog. This post is largely inspired by the comments thread from his recent post on bombing Syria (for Syrians’ sake, of course) and his latest post on the supposed differences between conservatives and liberals. Ultimately,…

Irrationality, Self-indulgence, Childishness, Bizarre Beliefs, and Innovation: From the Belly of the Beast

I have lived for many years the People’s Socialist Green Republic of Santa Cruz in California, right in the Belly of the Beast. That’s not its real name actually, just the name it deserves. It’s a university town of about 50,000. A large campus of the University of California sits on the hills overlooking the … Continue reading Irrationality, Self-indulgence, Childishness, Bizarre Beliefs, and Innovation: From the Belly of the Beast

Economic Rationality

[Cross-posted at the Foldvarium] The concept of rational action is a frontier of economic theory. The new field of behavioral economics combines economics and psychology to analyze actions that seem to be irrational. For example, people value health and long life, yet they smoke and eat unhealthy food. A related field, behavioral finance, examines psychological and … Continue reading Economic Rationality

The Rationality of Anti-Antisemitism; The Currency Issue Made Simple

The most interesting thing I have read in years about anti-Semitism is in the Wall Street Journal today. A poll in Europe indicates that 50% of Spaniards have a somewhat unfavorable, or a very unfavorable impression of Jews. The percentage in Germany is 25, in France it’s 20, in the UK, it’s 10. There are large … Continue reading The Rationality of Anti-Antisemitism; The Currency Issue Made Simple

Facts Matter: Irrationality Among the Sane, the Intelligent, the Well-Educated

I have been engaged in an incessant informal study of the irrationality of otherwise sane, intelligent, well-educated people. Obviously, the question of why the insane are sometimes irrational is not riveting. Less obviously, it’s possible to think of irrationality in the unlettered as a substitute for real knowledge. (Say belief in the virtues of tea … Continue reading Facts Matter: Irrationality Among the Sane, the Intelligent, the Well-Educated

More on China and Irrational Fears in Conservative Circles

Writes Minxin Pei: The latest news from Beijing is indicative of Chinese weakness: a persistent slowdown of economic growth, a glut of unsold goods, rising bad bank loans, a bursting real estate bubble, and a vicious power struggle at the top, coupled with unending political scandals. Many factors that have powered China’s rise, such as the demographic dividend, disregard for the environment, supercheap labor, and virtually unlimited … Continue reading More on China and Irrational Fears in Conservative Circles

Exploring Irrationality: Clusters

With great trepidation, I want to use this blog to do something that may be verging on the obscene. Don’t worry though, it does not involve my disrobing on-line, at least, not yet. Let me explain: I style myself a strict rationalist. I have spend much of my life fighting and trying to destroy superstitions. … Continue reading Exploring Irrationality: Clusters

Iraq, War, and the Litmus Test of Rationality: Ron Paul Edition

The Republican Presidential debates have been on TV for the past, what?, five or six months now, and I am proud to admit that I haven’t watched a single one of them.  By definition I am a left-leaning libertarian who thinks that free markets, limited government, and a humble foreign policy are the best tools … Continue reading Iraq, War, and the Litmus Test of Rationality: Ron Paul Edition

Why Hayek was Wrong about American and European Conservatism III

I am continuing from here, where I mainly discussed definitions of liberalism and conservatism. This sequence of posts was inspired by F.A. Hayek’s essay ‘Why I am Not a Conservative’. I am happy to share Hayek’s sentiment that market liberalism is not the same thing as conservatism, but I find some of the argument rather … Continue reading Why Hayek was Wrong about American and European Conservatism III

Courts as Modern Civic Churches?

India is in the middle of an anachronistic power tussle. Watching The Tudors right when the Indian Supreme Court is hearing submissions in the Sabrimala case placed before me an interesting hypothesis – the King v Church tug of war is replicating itself, albeit democratically, in the controversy surrounding the Essential Practices Test. First introduced … Continue reading Courts as Modern Civic Churches?

Feyerabend: Westernization and culture

There is a short thought, quoted by Paul K. Feyerabend in “Notes on Relativism”, that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Paul, ever critical of Western rationalism, is commenting at length on the expansion of (Western, capitalist) industrial scientific society to the margins of the developing world and minority cultures. He quotes François Jacob … Continue reading Feyerabend: Westernization and culture

Turkey at the start of one-man rule

1. Yesterday (Monday) Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan took office under the system of executive presidency, which gives him arbitrary personalised powers, based on the claim that a system of such extreme powers for one person is the most democratic system if that person is elected. The changes came about as the result of a referendum last … Continue reading Turkey at the start of one-man rule