January 20, 2008

review: second half of "Inner Economist"

The chapter on self-deception was my favorite, I think Cowen said some things that are really rather challenging to modern mainstream economic thought. Cowen discusses the idea that this factor, is what determines the utility that we seek to maximize. This idea is a correction, or at least a modification (if not a challenge) of the idea that people have "rational expectations." They do not necessarily do things because it is the most efficient thing or the smartest thing to do from a well-calculated standpoint. Nor are people's actions always the best or most efficient way to bring about a desired end, but rather a step in progressing a person's "life narrative".

This was very interesting, and perhaps the most applicable part of his book. He cites studies about how people who more closely stick to their self-confidence. are more successful than those with a more realistic (read that as "cynical" if you want) world view. I have often wondered about this. Put in economic terms, it can be said that confidence and decisiveness (even if one is blindly so) are more marketable traits than being highly analytical. People with the more marketable traits are more successful and happier because more people seek the company of these people, and the more thay are praised and followed, due to their "attractive" traits. That is what is meanwhen I say that ther traits are more in demand.

When I think about this I am reminded of the Movie Ed Wood. Bill Murray's character is a famous television fortune-teller. When asked how he knows his predictions are true he says that he does not. He says:

"It's Horse-Shit. If you speak well and look good while speaking people will buy whatever you say"

It can be said that the market for calm, rational thinking is highly competitive. True Scarcity power comes in the compliment good, decisiveness unwaveringly so. Rational thought is slow and skeptical and cautious in motion. Self-dilution bringing about the opposite of this is also necessary to life to an extent. It is the other side of a coin. we need both to an extant, and we have not yet hit the point of negative marginal returns when it comes to self-dilution.

No comments: