Caplan on culture

A great post on modernity:

The total volume is so massive we couldn’t consume that top 10% if we tried with all our might… Friedman’s problem is that he ignores the countervailing effects of population and wealth. Lots of creative people serving a big market of rich consumers is a recipe for progress – and that is precisely what see we all around us.

On this note I highly recommend: Rip: A Remix Manifesto.

Environmental end of days

Art Carden at Division of Labor has a great post today on the widespread acceptance of inevitable environmental catastrophe.

a public school teacher in our congregation had been encouraged by the School Board to highlight the “fact” that overpopulation is our #1 environmental problem as part of the Earth Day curriculum. That this is demonstrably false doesn’t seem to trouble anyone. In the face of compelling evidence, people cling nonetheless to environmentalist mythology.

Behavioral economists are always so worried that we under-estimate the likelihood of catastrophe’s because of cognitive biases and inabilities to deal with very big and very small numbers. But the political sphere seems to have force fitted this issue so that the bias runs the other way.

A partial answer to my Caplan question but not from Bryan

A while back I posted this question about the political implications of people who believe in an “end of days scenario.”
Today I found this interesting post at Offsetting Behavior.

CHRISTOPHER CROWE, International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Abstract: The recent housing bust has reignited interest in psychological theories of speculative excess (Shiller, 2007). I investigate this issue by identifying a segment of the U.S. population–evangelical protestants–that may be less prone to speculative motives, and uncover a significant negative relationship between their population share and house price volatility. Evangelicals’ focus on Biblical prophecy could account for this difference, since it may enable them to interpret otherwise negative events as containing positive news, dampening the response of house prices to shocks. I provide evidence for this channel using a popular internet measure of “prophetic activity” and a 9/11 event study. I also analyze survey data covering religious beliefs and asset holding, and find that ‘end times’ beliefs are associated with a one-third decline in net worth, consistent with these beliefs providing a form of psychic insurance (Scheve and Stasavage, 2006a and 2006b) that reduces asset demand.