Help Them Build a Better Life

Help Them Build a Better Life

It is an unavoidable reality that we are more motivated by what is in our immediate self-interest than we would like to admit. This idea is at the heart of Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson's book The Elephant in the Brain¬†and can be seen everywhere if you open your eyes to recognize it. I'm currently … Continue reading Help Them Build a Better Life

Buying Insurance

We Don’t Buy Insurance for Ourselves

Why do we buy insurance of any kind? Is it really for ourselves and our own benefit, or is there something else going on with insurance decisions? According to¬†Venture Capitalist Chris Brookfield, as quoted in Dave Chase's book The Opioid Crisis Wake-Up Call, there is something beyond our own self interest at play when we … Continue reading We Don’t Buy Insurance for Ourselves

Guidance Toward High Value Care

Guidance Toward High Value Care

In his book The Elephant in the Brain, Robin Hanson explains that a lot of medical care and healthcare services are more about signaling than about the value they bring to the patient in terms of improved health and effective management or treatment of a given condition. Healthcare has a lot of signaling, showing others … Continue reading Guidance Toward High Value Care

A Feeling of Importance

"If our ancestors hadn't had this flaming urge for a feeling of importance, civilization would have been impossible. Without it, we should have been just about like animals," writes Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie is hitting on an interesting idea: how the desire to be important has … Continue reading A Feeling of Importance

Designing for Two Goals

"Savvy institutional designers," Write Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson in The Elephant in the Brain, "must ... identify both the surface goals to which people give lip service and the hidden goals that people are also trying to achieve. Designers can then search for arrangements that actually achieve the deeper goals while also serving the … Continue reading Designing for Two Goals

Take a Close Look at What Feels Right

A topic I am fascinated by and plan to dig into in the future is motivated reasoning. We are great at finding all of the reasons and examples for why the things we do are overwhelmingly good and justified, while finding all the flaws in the people and things we dislike. Our brains seems to … Continue reading Take a Close Look at What Feels Right

Signaling Loyalty

Politics is an interesting world. We all have strong opinions about how the world should operate, but in general, most of us don't have much deep knowledge about any particular issue. We might understand the arguments about charter schools, about abortions, or about taxes, but very few of us have really studied any of these … Continue reading Signaling Loyalty

Sample Bias and Obliquity – Lessons from the Education Model

I studied political science for a masters and focused generally on public health. A big challenge in both areas is that the people who end up participating in our studies or who are the targets of our interventions are often different in one way or another from the general population, and that makes it hard … Continue reading Sample Bias and Obliquity – Lessons from the Education Model

Factionalized

"Whenever and issue becomes factionalized," write Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson in The Elephant in the Brain, "framed as Us against Them, we should expect to find ourselves behaving more like an apparatchik competing to show loyalty to our team."   The human mind is exceptionally good at creating in-group and out-group perspectives. There are … Continue reading Factionalized