Adam Smith Was A Behavioral Economist And No Fan of Greed
Adam Smith hated greed. He'd likely be horrified to see how his name is now used. And any Smith fans who believe selfishness is a virtue distort what Smith called his best work.
Jag Bhalla is an entrepreneur, inventor and writer. His current project is Errors We Live By, a series of short exoteric essays exposing errors in the big ideas running our lives, details at www.errorsweliveby.com. His last book was I'm Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears, a surreptitious science gift book from National Geographic Books, details at www.hangingnoodles.com. That explains his twitter handle @hangingnoodles.
2. Smith got famous first for what we’d now call psychology. Edmund Burke called The Theory of Moral Sentiments “fittest to explain those natural movements of the mind... which every Science relating to our Nature” needed (commending Smith’s "illustrations from common Life").
3. Smith begins Sentiments by observing that “the virtuous” have no monopoly on sympathy—“the most hardened violator of... laws” has sympathies. Even the “greatest ruffian,” however selfish, “evidently [has] some principles in his nature which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary.”
7. Smith’s now more famous book, The Wealth of Nations (WoN, 1776), is a founding document of economics. But it is no “greed is good” free-market “Bible of Capitalism.” Consider a few “surprising” quotes:
10. "When... regulation… is in favor of the workmen, it is always just.”
12. Smith’s “public good” republicanism is baked into America’s founding documents (e.g. Jefferson held to Smith’s Scottish Enlightenment sensibility).
13. The “Declaration’s” first listed justification for Independence is America’s need to enact “Laws… necessary for the public good.” The Constitution specifies government’s duty to “promote the general Welfare” (listed right after “provide for the common defense”).
15. Thaler says all economics was behavioural until the 1940s. After that all human behaviours were filtered, fitted, and squeezed into the formulation Economics = Optimization + Equilibrium.
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker Cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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