Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cultural Contradictions of Pop Economics

Andy Gelman has a fascinating post on the apparent contradictions of pop micro-economists today. I highly recommend reading it, as well as the comments. In essence, Gelman argues that many pop economists take one of two positions, depending on the circumstance: first, people are rational and respond to incentives (and thus behavior that appears irrational is actually rational once you take the perspective of an economist); second, people are irrational and don't respond to incentives (and thus, they need economists, with their open minds, to show them how to be rational). The problem, argues, Gelman is that these positions are entirely contradictory, and that pop-economics plays hopscotch with these viewpoints, switching from one to the other.