Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

Archive for June 2010

The Armchair Economist

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Steven Landsburg’s book seems to be the first of the recent wave of popular  “think like an economist about subjects not traditionally thought of as economics” books.  It features some great thought experiments and some great sentences, some of which are reproduced below.

“I do not know why people leave anonymous tips in restaurants, and the fact that I leave them myself in no way alleviates my sense of mystery.”

“So if you are thinking of remembering the Treasury in your will, and if you are something of an egalitarian, consider a bonfire instead.”

Only Individuals Matter and All Individuals Matter Equally.  These are the rules of the cost-benefit game.  You don’t have to follow them, but if you don’t, you are playing some other game”

“Strictly speaking, statistics never lie, but the truths they tell are often misinterpreted” [This reminds me of the Wheel of Time, ‘An Aes Sedai never lies, but the truth she tells is not the truth you think you hear’.  The Eye of the World was published 3 years before The Armchair Economist]

“Harry Truman wouldn’t like where this discussion is headed.” [Since Landsburg is no one-armed economist]

“It is sheer superstition to think that an Iowa-grown Camry is less ‘American’ than a Detroit-built Taurus” [From an analogy of how we can think of trade as a technology]

I recommend the book to anyone, regardless of the level of their background in economics.

Written by James Bailey

June 10, 2010 at 11:42 am