Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cass Sunstein: "Behavioral Economist"

There may or may not be something to behavioral economics, but if Cass Sunstein thinking is as far as thought in the sector has gone, it's a joke.

Now that he no longer is advising the President Obama on methods to limit individual freedom, he is teaching at Harvard and writing for Bloomberg. In a recent column he had this to say:
For example, people in both California and Iowa have been found to think that people in California are happier than those in Iowa (which isn’t so). The reason for the mistake is that people focus on the most salient difference between California and Iowa, which is the weather, even though a warmer climate doesn’t much affect people’s happiness.
The first problem with this comment is the mass aggregation that is used by Sunstein. Someone who likes to snow ski may be much happier in a colder climate, while a surfer is likely to be happier in a warm climate. You can't make the kind of broad statements that Sunstien makes here. Further,  facts suggest that, for most, the opposite of Sunstein's statement is true. Prices of hotel rooms go way up in the winter in Florida, which very strongly suggests that people do prefer to spend time in warmer weather. If there was no difference in preference, people wouldn't be leaving the frigid northeast, say, for Miami in January---and paying more for the opportunity to do so than in June.

Sunstein goes on:
When people are hungry, they tend to order a ton of food, even if they are not going to eat all or even most of it. People know, of course, that their tastes will change over time, but they project their current emotional state into the future and thus underestimate the magnitude of the change.
First of all, when I am hungry I order what I think I will eat. I don't know what Sunstein does when he is hungry, but I can't really think of hungry people I have been with who order food they don't plan on eating.

More from Sunstein:
On frigid days, people buy clothing that is needed in cold weather, such as parkas and winter coats. That’s fine as far as it goes, but they sometimes buy more than they need. The return rate is unusually high for cold-weather products bought in low temperatures. For gift-givers, the lesson is clear: Don’t be unduly influenced by how you feel on the day that you happen to be shopping.
Actually, Sunstein could be misinterpreting the reason behind the return rate. Some could be buying a winter coat, with the full intention of returning it after the cold snap. In other words, the return rate may have nothing to with shoppers improperly projecting future weather trends---but more to do with shoppers gaming the system. A shopper buying a winter coat in Florida during a cold snap, may not be projecting cold weather for the entire season and may know very well the snap will end. Sunstein is significatanly limiting his views as to the reasons behind actions that are going on.

Sunstein again:
Human beings tend to be unrealistically optimistic. Most people think they are better than the average driver and less likely to be involved in a serious accident. 
Again, major incorrect, mass aggregation by Sunstein. I talk to many young people, who when it comes to their skills, underestimate how talented they are. Then there are others, who have little skill, but hold the view they are the second coming of Ludiwg von Mises. It's impossible to lump them all together.

All this said, I will do one bit of aggregating myself, but I feel it is justified. Start to finish, Sunstein is a sloppy thinker.


  1. Maybe Sunstein isn't so much a sloppy thinker as a propagandist. He has an agenda to advance: limiting human freedom and choice.

    1. Exactly. It's not reason, or thinking, but propaganda. I've followed Shitstain...I mean Sustein for a few years, and the guy would make Goebbles proud. He is a pure communist, and believes the government is, and should be, all powerful.

  2. Here is Howard's 1st principle for identifying members of the ruling class:

    Human parasites are always intellectually condescending.

    Sunstein is an obvious and typical example.

    1. Damn Howard, that makes me a parasite then. I've condescended quite a few statists in my day.

    2. All parasites are condescending does not equal all condescension is parasitic.

  3. Anecdotal posing as analytic. Pathetic. As a high school dropout, I would be embarrassed by such statements.

  4. Cass Sunstein's wife Samantha Power Senior Director Multilateral Affairs, National Security Council, pushed for the Libya Gaddafi takeout.

    This power tripping pair, are representative of those that have taken over the money supply, war machine, and if they have their way most every aspect of how humans are able to live.

    Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change confronts Sunstein in this video about his past writings on "Conspiracy Theories," which he attempts to slough off.

    Cass Sunstein and his wife, along with others now in power represent a Clear and Present Danger.

  5. Sunstein is just as delusional as the rest of the Progressives, which should be read as Leninists.