Category Archives: Humor

Conspiracy Theories are Socialist, Man!

An invisible-hand explanation explains what looks to be the product of someone’s intentional design, as not being brought about by anyone’s hidden intentions. We might call the opposite sort of explanation a “hidden-hand explanation.” A hidden-hand explanation explains what looks to be merely a disconnected set of facts that (certainly) is not the product of intentional design, as the product of an individual’s or group’s intentional design, as the product of an individual’s or group’s intentional design(s). Some persons also find such explanations satisfying, as is evidenced by the popularity of conspiracy theories.

— Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974), p. 19.

The Austrophysicists, Post Astrophysicists, and New Astrophysicists

Stephen Hawking poses a paradox for astrophysicists: the accepted story about event horizons may not be true. I’m not going to pretend like I know what all of this is about. I just wanted to make a quick observation that relates this to economics.

If astrophysics had the same weight in public policy as economics, there would be a significant chunk of scientists — and an army of amateurs — yelling about anti-scientism, obvious errors nobody but them are aware of, and how clearly the facts are on their side. And, their readers would be misguided into believing that there are easy answers in astrophysics, even when the complexity of the problem grows. Anybody who disagreed with these easy answers would be clearly corrupted by politics, ideology, and money.

But, astrophysics, like economics, deals with complex problems, and complex problems have complex solutions. The problem and the solution are usually very difficult to grasp without abstracting from some aspect of it, and our research will, at best, offer incomplete answers. Scientists will come up with divergent theories, because of the way they interpret the problem and depending on what they abstract from. This is a reality we should come to accept; it’s a reality that the institutions of science try to grapple with. The more cynical scientists are typically those who don’t fully embrace this reality.

No Coasean Solutions for Strong Odors

A Southern California company that produces Sriracha hot sauce was ordered to shut its doors, after a Los Angeles County judge ruled in favor of residents who said the smell drove them to distraction.

The odor from the Huy Fong company was so overpowering that some residents suffered headaches, watery eyes and soar throats, CNN reported.

The city said it tried to reach an agreement with the company to install a filtration system that would confine the odors, before pursuing the court route. Huy Fung officials did not immediately comment but in a previous media report, said the filtration system the city wanted was prohibitively expensive.

Cheryl K. Chumley, Washington Times.

I propose a Sriracha tax.

Gender Regulation?

Some argue that financial crises are easier to mitigate if we increase capital requirements. Others argue that maybe financial crises would turn out differently if there were more women working in upper management in the financial sector,

Feminist economists have, for example, been looking at the causes of the current financial crisis and explored how far it would have happened if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters, arguing that although there are many myths and stereotypes about male risk-taking and female caution that need to be dispelled, there is evidence to show that companies that have larger numbers of women on their boards are more profitable.