Monday, July 30, 2012

Duck of Minerva Podcast

The Duck of Minerva has recently started a series of podcasts, the most recent of which features yours truly.  I discuss the uses of formal models and a few of my current research projects.

We had some technical difficulties recording the conversation, so unfortunately it ends abruptly and there are some parts with significant hiccups, but hopefully you'll still find it worth a listen.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Regional Variation Cannot Tell US

Q: If you observe that the impact of some set of variables on some outcome of interest varies by region, does this mean you can conclude that there is no universal relationship between those variables and that outcome?

A: No.

Keep reading for an illustration of why you cannot.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Does Preference Cycling Invalidate "Rational Choice Theory"?

The two most common (and laziest) critiques of "rational choice theory" are that "people are not rational" and that "the assumption of rationality is non-falsifiable".\(^1\)

A more sophisticated critique, one often put forth by those who've seen the first line of defense folks like me throw up, goes like this:
Yeah, okay, so long as preferences are complete, reflexive, and transitive, "rational" choices can be made.  But even that's too strict a requirement!  People exhibit cyclical preferences in real life.  So suck on that!
Okay, that last part might not come up too often in academic discussions.  But you get my drift.

At any rate, there's definitely something to this critique.  I have no problem admitting that.  But it's easy to make too much of it.