15 Oct 2017

RC Sproul on Post-Christian Christianity

Religious 5 Comments

If you’re a believer, I think you will find the second half of Sproul’s lecture very compelling and authentic.

If you’re agnostic, and you are familiar with Kantian philosophy, let me know if you think Sproul gets it right in his opening summary.

14 Oct 2017

“Take on Me” Unplugged

Music 2 Comments

11 Oct 2017

Reactions to Thaler’s Nobel

Economics 10 Comments

Commentary from David R. Henderson, Alex Tabarrok, and Tyler Cowen.

Von Pepe also sends this feisty reaction from Mario Rizzo. Check this out:

Nevertheless, the emphasis on the limits of the standard rational paradigm, as pioneered by Thaler, has been a very refreshing and useful thing. And yet behavioral economics remains wedded to this narrow conception of rationality as a normative and prescriptive standard of evaluation. It drives the critique of many market outcomes and is the basis of policy prescriptions. It is precisely because people are not narrowly rational that their behavior must be fixed. Their behavior must be taxed, regulated or nudged in the direction of the behavior of the perfectly rational neoclassical man. For example, it is alleged that people are obese because they fail to take “full account” of the negative effects of their unhealthful eating habits. What is full account? They must reckon or discount these effects at the rational rate of discount – the long-run rate, the rate one would use if one were super-rational and calm in making a diet plan to be implemented in, say, six months or a year. But how the agent looks at things now, at the moment of deciding what to eat, is wrong. It is impetuous. It is “present biased.” The individual needs help. And, in practice, it is the government’s help.

Aside from the policy implications, there is an incredible irony here. Standard economics is mocked for its rationality assumptions and yet those assumptions are held up as an ideal for real human beings. It is as if there is a neoclassical man deep in each of us struggling to get out but he is continually bombarded by behavioral shocks. Behavioral policy is about nothing less than becoming the real you! All this despite your resistance. [Italics in original.]

And also check out the big guns in the comments of Rizzo’s post.

10 Oct 2017

Tom Woods’ 1000th Episode

Humor, Tom Woods 1 Comment

The roast at the end is pretty fun. Regarding Dave Smith, all I can say is: “At last, a man worth killing.”

10 Oct 2017

Murphy and Co-Host Twin Spin

Contra Krugman, Lara-Murphy Show 2 Comments

==> In the latest Lara-Murphy Show, we argue that we’re in a real estate bubble.

==> In the latest Contra Krugman, we kinda sorta endorse Krugman’s critique of Paul Ryan on fiscal matters.

10 Oct 2017

MRUniversity: The Solow Model and the Steady State

Capital & Interest 1 Comment

I am linking to this as a supplement in my Liberty Classroom course on the History of Economic Thought. This is simply amazing how well they get across the concept in such a short time. The animations / sound effects are perfect for such an esoteric topic.

09 Oct 2017

Baffled by CNBC

Economics 5 Comments

I’m not kidding, I have no idea what is going on in this CNBC story on the recent jobs report. Here are some excerpts:

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma damaged not only Texas and Florida but also the U.S. jobs picture, as payrolls fell by 33,000 in September. That drop came even as the unemployment rate fell to a 16-year low of 4.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Economists surveyed by Reuters expected payroll growth of 90,000 in September, compared with 169,000 in August. The unemployment rate was expected to hold steady at 4.4 percent. It declined even as the labor-force participation rate rose to 63.1 percent, its highest level all year and the best reading since March 2014.

So, how are all of those facts possible? Did millions of elderly people die in the month?

And then there’s this, later in the article: “Revisions will bear watching in coming months, as the final payrolls number comes from the Labor Department’s byzantine estimation methods. The department’s household survey showed the actual level of employed Americans grew by 906,000 while the unemployment rolls fell by 331,000. The report indicated a record 154.3 million Americans at work.”

I realize they are looking at different sampling techniques, but… Is it really correct that one method says payrolls fell by 33,000, while another says the level increased by 906,000? I think possibly the later quotation is referring to year-to-date numbers?

It shouldn’t be this hard to figure out what the actual statistics (as bogus as they may be) indicate. This is a horribly written article.

09 Oct 2017

Ryan Griggs on Why He Went From Atheism to Christianity

Religious 6 Comments

It’s a nuanced take, to be sure, which is similar to my journey. (At one intermediate point I thought Jesus was a regular guy who truly–but erroneously–believed he was the messiah, and so could heal people with similar religious views by the power of suggestion.)

For reference, Ryan used to be in our PhD program at Texas Tech but decided he no longer wanted to go into academia.