Economic Woman

Econometrics, gender, equity and more.

Posts Tagged ‘fun

Evolutionary psychology, evolutionary economics, and reasons to persevere

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A few evolutionary psychologists have gone off the rails of late – one of my favourite bloggers has taken to calling them “evo-psychos.” So I got a giggle out of this send-up of bad evolutionary psychology and the gullible reporters who breathlessly relay it: “Belief in Evolutionary Psychology May Be Hardwired, Study Says.”

We shouldn’t let a few psychologists turn us off the rest of evolutionary thought though, especially when some of it is happening within economics. I’ve been meaning to pick up Michael Shermer‘s recent The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics.

It was reviewed in The Globe and Mail recently (gated) by Richard Parker, whose own most recent book, about John Kenneth Galbraith, I’ve been enjoying. In fact, it’s possible that the review is better than the book. (Quick tip: the review is gated now, but if you hit Google’s “cached” button, you’ll find the full version for another day or so.) First, there’s a depressing observation:

So many economics schools have fallen flat, so many economic predictions have proved wrong, so many economic policy prescriptions have produced disastrous consequences, that these days economics is a discipline under siege. So demoralized are economists themselves that nearly two-thirds, according to an American Economic Association survey, have decided that their profession is completely “over-mathematicized and unrelated to the real world.”

But then Parker reminds us why we should care about economics anyway:

The answer, as you surely must understand, is that their theories are as central to our world, for better and worse, as theology was to the Middle Ages. Their policy conclusions end up framing some of the biggest issues of our times, even when their models and arguments seem as esoteric as counting angels on the head of a pin. Globalization. Trade deficits. Budget deficits. Wages. Poverty. CEO pay. The unions. Inequality. Taxes. Energy policy. Health care. Inflation. Recession. Privatization. Deregulation. When economics is done badly, we’re all at risk of becoming its victims; when it’s done well, the promise is that we’ll share in its reward.


Written by Allison

25 May 2008 at 5:09 pm

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Imaginary markets in everything

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Feministing has pulled a beautiful little quote out of an abstinence-only education website:

Virginity is an asset that holds its value well.

Click over for a witty comment thread. I also have a few thoughts, because it’s late at night.

  1. What rate is it taxed at?
  2. But seriously, folks. What value does virginity store? Purity? The gains from marriage to a God-fearing mate?
  3. Even accepting the premise: since virginity is relatively easy to lie about, it should in fact be a very unreliable store of value.
  4. Past a certain point virginity begins to lose its value. Definitely by 40 you’re facing some sort of opportunity cost in holding this asset.

Unfortunately, abstinence only education is not any sort of asset.

(The headline is a tribute to this, obviously.)

Written by Allison

8 May 2008 at 2:40 am

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