Thanks to Larry for inviting me to guest-blog. It’s every academic’s dream, I think, to have a built-in audience for her thoughts. And given the caliber of this blog and the readership it attracts, I could scarcely have a better one.
One subject I’ll be blogging on is my general view that people’s prior beliefs and other aspects of how they view and take in the world explain a huge amount, much more than is usually acknowledged. They (people’s priors) help explain why there are so many debates that never get anywhere. Both sides might have terrific arguments, yet nobody is persuaded.
And people keep on making the same sorts of arguments, even knowing this. Sometimes they wonder why more people aren’t persuaded. It’s a bit like the old joke about the person who goes to a foreign country and doesn’t know the language, so he tries to communicate in his own language and, when he’s not understood, he just tries again, repeating what he said . . . but louder.
I recently went to a very interesting colloquium co-sponsored by the Federalist Society and the Liberty Fund on Behavioral Law and Economics. One big issue discussed was the relationship between behavioral law and economics and law, including most importantly paternalistic justifications for law that behavioral l & e might provide. Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to ban sales of large sizes of soda was much on people’s minds.
One thing I very much wanted to get out of the discussion was an understanding of the other participants’ priors as well as my own. Here are some initial thoughts.