Unfair Humor for the Greater Good
By Bryan Caplan
Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life features a truly funny joint review of my The Myth of the Rational Voter and Drew Westen’s The Political Brain. This is probably the only published review that I consider unfair. But as Homer might say, “Yea, unfairly hilarious!” Best lines:
Caplan dismisses passion and patriotism in favor of a purely “rational” approach to voting, with “rational” being a code word for following the path to higher profits.
He is upset, for instance, that so many Americans embrace protectionist economic policies, against the advice of rational economists like himself. In his view, public policies that do not support corporate profits are just foolish.
Actually, I think that protectionism is a great way to support corporate profits of firms facing foreign competition, making it foolish for consumers to support protectionism. But why criticize my actual views, when you can criticize a straw man?
The funniest line in the view, however, is about the other book:
The Political Brain does have its weaknesses. Westen is not sensitive to the role subcultures (such as the hip-hop community) play in shaping people’s interpretations of mass media or of the stories politicians tell.
But is it fair to single Westen out for neglecting the hip-hop community, when I do the same?