Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Most Interesting Quote I Have Read This Week

I'm reading the new book, Misbehaving, by nudger Richard Thaler.

It's actually a fun read. Thaler writes very well, but the analysis in the book is just terrible. The entire book is built on faulty premises.

He does not even understand Ludwig von Mises' critical point:
The field of our science is human action, not the psychological events which result in action. It is precisely this which distinguishes the general theory of human action, praxeology, from psychology. (From Human Action pp.11-12)
I'm saying Thaler doesn't get this at all, and the entire foundation of his book is based on his not getting this and not getting a few other things on the basic nature of the social sciences.

Consider, he starts the book off with this quote from Vilfredo Pareto:
The foundation of political economy and, in general, of every social science, is evidently psychology. A day may come when we shall be able to deduce the laws of social sciences from the principles of psychology.  
But I did come across a quote in the book that I found interesting.

First, Thaler sets the scene:
Amos Tbersky [who was dying of cancer and had only six months to live], after consulting with specialists at Stanford about his prognosis, decided that ruining his final months with pointless treatments that would make him very sick and at best extend his life by a few weeks was not a tempting option. 
And then Thaler writes:
His sharp wit remained. He explained to his oncologist that cancer is not a zero-sum game. "What is bad for the tumor is not necessarily good for me."

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