A well-known Latin adage reads “de gustibus non est disputandum”, roughly translated as “about tastes it should not be disputed”. In English, we usually refer to the maxim as “over tastes there is no argument”, indicating the economist’s fundamental creed that tastes and preferences may very well come from somewhere but are useless to argue … Continue reading Musings on opinions: de gustibus non est disputandum
“Ideology is a menace” Paul Collier says in his forthcoming book The Future of Capitalism and I couldn’t agree more: ideology (and by extension morality) “binds and blinds”, as psychology professor Jonathan Haidt describes i. And ideology, especially utopian dreams by dedicated rulers, is what allows – indeed accounts for – the darkest episodes of … Continue reading The Factual Basis of Political Opinions
Looking for something to read? Here are 13 upcoming books that will make 2020 a remarkably interesting year!
On standard tests of empathy, libertarians score very low. Yet, the world’s “well-known libertarian bias” coupled with many people’s unwarranted pessimism makes us seem like starry-eyed optimists (“how could you possibly believe things will just work themselves out?!”). Under the Moral Foundations framework developed and popularized by Jonathan Haidt, he and his colleagues analyzed thousands … Continue reading The Least Empathic Lot
Nothing makes me happier than pointing out when someone is wrong. I admit, that’s a pretty sad life. And for some unfathomable reason that doesn’t endear me to the person who uttered the incorrect statement – which it really should as I’m correcting some mistaken belief of theirs, assisting them on the path to truth. … Continue reading A Lesson in Inventing Your Own Statistics
As readers, the eternal curse of modernity is our laughable inability to keep up with the couple of millions of books that are published every year. I thought I was gonna make that worse for you!
In our polarized and politically intolerant times, intellectuals worry about the divisions in our societies. You might call it inequality or absence of social mobility, racism or rigid social structures but all pundits seem to agree that despite our apparent cosmopolitanism, many people’s opinions on lifestyles, politics, or economics are diverging. More so, their opinions … Continue reading You’re Not Worth My Time
In the previous part of this three-part review, I looked at Davies’ first subsection (“Survival”) where he ventured to some of the most secluded and extreme places of the world – a maximum security prison, a refugee camp, a tsunami disaster – and found thriving markets. Not in that pejorative and predatory way markets are … Continue reading Davies’ “Extreme Economies” – Part 2: Failure
Jane Austen’s lifetime earnings amounted to £45,000 in today’s prices. Hang on a minute. ONLY “£45,000”?
Doing the economist’s job well, Nobel Laureate Paul Romer once quipped, “means disagreeing openly when someone makes an assertion that seems wrong.” Following this inspirational guideline of mine in the constrained, hostile, and fairly anti-intellectual environment that is Twitter sometimes goes astray. That the modern intellectual left is vicious we all know, even if it’s … Continue reading Asking questions about women in the academy
Timely, both in our post-truth world and for my current thinking, Bobby Duffy of the British polling company IPSOS Mori recently released The Perils of Perception, stealing the subtitle I have (humbly enough) planned for years: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything. Duffy and IPSOS’s Perils of Perception surveys are hardly unknown for an informed audience, … Continue reading In Defense of Not Having a Clue
Many are familiar with the Democratic Peace Theory, the idea that two democracies have never waged war against one another. The point is widely recognized as one of the major benefits of democracy, and the hand-in-hand development of more democracies and fewer/less-devastating wars than virtually any other period of human history, is a tempting and … Continue reading The Capitalist Peace: What Happened to the Golden Arches Theory?
University tuition fees are always popular talking points in politics, media, and over family dinner tables: higher education is some kind of right; it’s life-changing for the individual and super-beneficial for society, thus governments ought to pay for them on economic as well as equity grounds (please read with sarcasm). In general, the arguments for … Continue reading Are Swedish University Tuitions Fees Really Free?