Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Fire Bell of Unemployment

THE failure of the Congressional supercommittee to come up with any agreement on the budget deficit makes it even less likely that Congress will rise above its partisan divisions and act on behalf of the millions of out-of-work Americans.

Yet without government intervention, we may well have high unemployment and social discord for years to come. How did this disaster happen?

Probably the most important reasons for the failure to rescue the unemployed are intellectual, rather than purely political. First, there is a lack of scientific proof that government spending — fiscal stimulus — will do much to remedy unemployment. Second, there is a lack of appreciation of the human impact and social consequences of high, long-term joblessness.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Neuroeconomics Revolution

Economics is at the start of a revolution that is traceable to an unexpected source: medical schools and their research facilities. Neuroscience – the science of how the brain, that physical organ inside one’s head, really works – is beginning to change the way we think about how people make decisions. These findings will inevitably change the way we think about how economies function. In short, we are at the dawn of “neuroeconomics.”

Efforts to link neuroscience to economics have occurred mostly in just the last few years, and the growth of neuroeconomics is still in its early stages. But its nascence follows a pattern: revolutions in science tend to come from completely unexpected places. A field of science can turn barren if no fundamentally new approaches to research are on the horizon. Scholars can become so trapped in their methods – in the language and assumptions of the accepted approach to their discipline – that their research becomes repetitive or trivial.

Then something exciting comes along from someone who was never involved with these methods – some new idea that attracts young scholars and a few iconoclastic old scholars, who are willing to learn a different science and its different research methods. At a certain moment in this process, a scientific revolution is born.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Video: Robert Shiller at Neuroscience 2011

Robert J. Shiller, PhD, presents "Animal Spirits: How Human Behavior Drives the Economy," with SfN President Susan Amara and neuroscientists Antonio Rangel and Wolfram Schultz on November 12 at Neuroscience 2011 in Washington, DC.

Note: Dr. Shiller's remarks begin at 19 minutes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

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