Category Archives: Behavioral Economics

Fake News Isn’t the Problem, Relativism Is

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When the soon-to-be-president Trump called a CNN reporter ‘fake news’ to his face, it was both entertaining and ironic. First of all, it was great theater seeing such an esteemed agency being called out in such a public forum. But, if anyone is a peddler of fake news, it is Trump.

Fake news has become something of a boogeyman man of late. Since Trump’s surprising election, politicians and pundits from both sides of the debate have pointed to fake news as a major culprit in the debacle.

But so-called fake news is not limited to news agencies broadcasting dubious partisan views—that is just the most prominent example, so everyone, including the future president, is harping on it. Looking closer, we see that fake news actually stems from a more fundamental crisis of philosophy that has swept through our culture in the last decades: The belief that truth is relative and all one needs to do to make something true is to say it. That philosophy is what fake news is all about, and the Donald might be its most reliable adherent. Continue reading

Voting Frenzy a Sign of National Malaise, Not Vigor

With all of the attention focused on this election, it is easy to get caught up in a patriotic fervor.

Everyone posted ‘I Voted’ stickers and talked about how it is a duty to make your voice heard. Celebrities paraded around talking about how important it will be to have “the most qualified” candidate, Hillary, as president, and preachers talk about how important it is to have the supposedly pro-life Trump pick the next Supreme Court justices. Everyone disagrees on who should be president, but everyone agrees that voting for president is the most important thing we can do as Americans.

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Taylor Swift getting her vote on.

Even the most independent citizens are pulled in. They too can sense the importance of having their candidate in the White House, or, more importantly, not having their opponent in the White House. Everyone has gotten swept up in election fever.

But is this really a good thing?

It occurs to the objective observer that this election has done a lot of things to this country and none of them are particularly good. Four stand out:

Continue reading

Why We Should Hang Up the Mobile Device Ban

On Jan. 1, 2015, San Antonio will begin enforcing a new cell phone ban for drivers. The ban is, by many accounts, common sense and will catch the city up with progressive California and New York bans. It also happens to be a terrible idea.

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Sweet antenna.

To begin, let it be said that I do not condone texting or talking on the phone while driving. It is undoubtedly a distraction, the consequences of which are seen everywhere. Any time I see poor driving—swerving, driving 15 miles an hour on the highway, crashing into cement barricades—it is doubtless because the driver is focused on a handheld device and not the primary task of driving. It goes without saying that the tragedies we see in the news where kids or families are killed in accidents due to distracted driving are horrible, and we should do all we can to eliminate such senseless catastrophes.

This ban is not the answer. Continue reading

Romancing the Subconscious

A chapter from the 2014 release, Psychonomics: How Modern Science Aims to Conquer the Mind and How the Mind Prevails.

On a cool summer evening in Southern California, a group of three fashionable young women scamper into a posh hotel bar to partake in their typical Friday evening ritual of drinks, dancing, and, of course, decision-making. The girls don’t admit that they’re out looking for guys, but they aren’t opposed to the idea either. After all, they’re not spending the evening in their apartments in pajamas. They’re in high-waisted jeans at a bar with an upside-down sign.

The three women are all very attractive and, by many accounts, could have their choice of men. Over the course of the night, they are approached by several groups of guys, of which some get to talk to them for a while and some fail spectacularly. The failures can be awkward and often rather painful. “Sometimes guys just don’t get it,” one of the women, Katlyn, says as she tosses back her tangled brown locks. “It’s clear we’re not interested, but they still don’t go away.”

On the other hand, the successes can be fun and sometimes lead to lasting friendships. “You can meet some really interesting people out,” Katlyn says. “And when you click, you just know it.”

two-girlfriends-at-bar-drinking-champagne Continue reading

Psychonomics

Psychonomics: The Scientific Conquest of the Human Mind

We are in the midst of a brain science revolution. Highly sophisticated neuroimaging technology and cunning psychological experiments have helped researchers delve into the darkest corners of the human brain to shine light on how it works and explain human behavior.

Their conclusions boggle the mind: We make decisions before we are even conscious of our choices; we allow irrelevant influences to dominate our thought processes; and we go against our own best interest as a matter of course. In short, the latest brain science has conquered the mind and determined that we are all irrational and helpless in our condition.

But should that be the last word? In this startling account, Eric Robert Morse takes on the pop psychology establishment to show how this new understanding of the mind isn’t the paradigm-shifting revelation it is claimed to be. With meticulous precision, Morse dissects the latest Behavioral Economics and brain imaging research to reveal a discipline that is full of holes and bordering on pseudoscience.

In Psychonomics, Morse uses captivating stories to bring to life the often mystifying world of behavioral psychology. We hear tales of beautiful fashion models and brilliant finance models, of MVP quarterbacks and GDP architects. In all of these stories, Morse shows how modern science uses the most advanced techne and experiments to defeat the human mind, and, ultimately, how the mind wins.

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