4 Ways Economists Think We're All Wrong | Econ Chronicles

Release Date
June 3, 2014


Basic Economics Politics & Policy

How much does the average person know about economics? How about trade and immigration? Economists claim to know a great deal about these topics, and study them in depth. And while they often disagree with each other, most economists agree a lot more with each other than they do with the public. So why do democratic citizens tend to reject what economists say? Are there certain biases that make democracies choose bad economic policies? Follow this series of videos to find out.

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (paper): Bryan Caplan presents his views in depth in this policy analysis on Cato.
Russ Roberts and Bryan Caplan (audio interview): Esteemed economist Russ Roberts talks to Prof. Caplan about the thesis of his book.
Majority Fools? Irrationality and the Limits of Democracy (symposium): Cato Unbound brings together a myriad of scholars to discuss what democracy can get us – and what it can’t.
Myth of the Rational Voter (book review): Gene Callahan, writing for “The Independent Review” criticizes the conception of irrationality on which Bryan Caplan bases his argument.

4 Ways Economists Think We’re All Wrong | Econ Chronicles 
I’m Bryan Caplan, professor of economics at George Mason University and author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. Why exactly do democracies choose bad policies? I say it’s because bad policies are popular.
Why on earth would bad policies be popular? Because voters, like most humans, are biased. They aren’t merely mistaken. They’re mistaken in predictable ways. Voters believe things that almost everyone who carefully studies the evidence rejects.
My own subject, economics, is one of the best examples. Economists are notorious for disagreeing with each other. This overlooks a more striking fact about us. Liberal and conservative economists agree more with each other than we do with the public. The popular view, in economists’ eyes, suffers from major biases.
What are these biases? And why should we think the popular view is mistaken? The next four videos focus on four biases that economists have been criticizing for centuries. I call them (1) anti-foreign bias; (2) anti-market bias; (3) make-work bias; and (4) pessimistic bias.