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Stories by Jag Bhalla

Astronaut versus Cowboy Ethics

Astronaut versus Cowboy Ethics

“Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.” So said Garrett Hardin to correct misreadings of his misnamed “tragedy of the commons.” He’s partly right.

October 11, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
The Most Dangerous Jargon Viruses

The Most Dangerous Jargon Viruses

“Rational” is the secular holy. It is a sacred prestigious label in mind work. We look to the rational to save us. Yet some professors of a rational-is-holy faith aren’t being wholly rational.

October 4, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Is Breaking Bad Darwinian?

Is Breaking Bad Darwinian?

“Darwin was no Darwinian.” Martin Luther King Jr said that before me. He was correct historically, scientifically, and morally. It’s a bad break for Darwin, and us, that his name is used to distort his ideas.

October 1, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Words Are Thinking Tools: Praxotype

Words Are Thinking Tools: Praxotype

Words are thinking tools (as Daniel Dennett notes). New word-tools can sometimes avoid the baggage built into prior terms and thinking patterns.

September 27, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Is Money Like Food?

Is Money Like Food?

Do you have enough enoughness in your life? Your biology definitely does. But your unevolved economic appetite might not. Life is limited—as are all corporeal appetites.

September 20, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Non-Grapefruit and Fruitful Non-Science

Non-Grapefruit and Fruitful Non-Science

“Reason is larger than science.” So Leon Wieseltier reminds us in his essay “Crimes Against Humanities,” his reply to Steven Pinker’s “Science Is Not Your Enemy.” If well practiced, science reduces errors, but it grants no immunity to nonsense.

September 13, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Food For Rethinking Markets

Food For Rethinking Markets

No perfect rationality is needed to see that markets often don’t work as advertised. But without perfect rationality, and other utopian conditions, the math of market theory doesn’t work.

September 6, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Maxims Are Fitter Than Maximization

Maxims Are Fitter Than Maximization

Maxims matter more than maximization. Much in life isn’t quantifiable, much less numerically maximizable. Words, logic, images, and patterns all can express more than numbers can.

August 30, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Is Economics More Like History Than Physics?

Is Economics More Like History Than Physics?

Is economics like physics, or more like history? Steven Pinker says, “No sane thinker would try to explain World War I in the language of physics.” Yet some economists aim close to such craziness.

August 16, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Economics versus Fiction on Human Nature

Economics and fiction both seek to describe and explain our behavior. Measured against what makes fiction feel realistic, the tales of mainstream economists aren’t believable.

August 9, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Evolutionary Economics and Darwin’s Wedge

Evolutionary Economics and Darwin’s Wedge

Economics is in our nature. But not the narrowly self-interested kind. We evolved to survive collaboratively. Models of us that exclude our interdependence are fatally flawed.

August 1, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Evolutionary Economics and Darwin's Wedge

Economics is in our nature. But not the narrowly self-interested kind. We evolved to survive collaboratively. Models of us that exclude our interdependence are fatally flawed.

August 1, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Science's Mobile Army of Metaphors

Metaphors are our shortest stories. They are economical explanations that shape our understanding (itself a “mobile army of metaphors”). But badly mixed metaphors from physics and biology animate economics, creating “confusion’s masterpiece.” Another Shakespearean phrase, “invisible hand,” is partially to blame.Science’s theories—its verifiable stories—also use metaphors.

July 19, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Revolutionizing Economics by Evolutionizing It

Economics will soon be revolutionized, by being evolutionized, again. This time with fewer unnaturally selective ideas. Scholars, like those working with the Evolution Institute, are adapting the assumptions, methods, and goals of economics to better fit empirically observed humans.

July 12, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Every day is Interdependence Day

We see with our ideas. That idea can open our eyes to key questions about modeling human nature. Varying blues and illusions illuminate a weird sampling error at the heart of a heartless economic worldview.

July 5, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

The Limits of Psychophysics, and Physics

Psychophysics secretly dominates our social sciences. Such physics-ing often improves experimental practice, but its mathematical methods face new challenges.

June 28, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Rationality in Markets Is Cognitively Unnatural

The label "rational" is becoming illogical. Economists, even the better behavioral kind, use it particularly badly. That great scholar of human nature, Shakespeare, knew better.

June 21, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Game Theory And The Golden Punishment Rule

Moral sciences are back. Natural laws of ethics, envisioned early in the Enlightenment, can now be studied. Scientists are relearning the wisdom of old traditions by objectively rating their performance.

June 18, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Better Behaved Behavioral Models

We often can't rely on ourselves to act rationally. We know this, but much social science has a bad habit of ignoring it. A more realistic role for rationality is needed to grasp the unhidden but unmodeled relationship between decisions and actions.

June 14, 2013 — Jag Bhalla

Selfish Genes Also Must Cooperate

Many followers of reason think it natural and rational to be selfish. They believe that’s just how evolution works. But Richard Dawkins, the cardinal spokesperson for that oversimplified and unnaturally selective view, is guilty of logical lapses and false prophecy.

June 12, 2013 — Jag Bhalla
Stories by Jag Bhalla

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