Money Isn't About Economic Security (For Most of Us)

Money Isn’t About Economic Security (For Most of Us)

Tyler Cowen started his February 28th, 2018 podcast interview with his colleague from George Mason University, Robin Hanson, with the following:   "Robin, if politics is not about policy, medicine is not about health, laughter is not about jokes, and food is not about nutrition, what are podcasts not about?"   Hanson goes on to … Continue reading Money Isn’t About Economic Security (For Most of Us)

Signaling Fairness with Altruistic Punishment

Maintaining the Rules of Fairness with Signaling and Altruistic Punishment

Society is held together by many unspoken rules of fairness, and maintaining rules of fairness is messy but rewarding work. We don't just advocate for fairness in our own lives, but will go out of our way to call out unfairness when we see it hampering the lives of others. We will protest, march in … Continue reading Maintaining the Rules of Fairness with Signaling and Altruistic Punishment

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