Much of economic theory is based on the idea that humans are rational actors who carefully calculate the pros and cons of each decision. But what gets left out such a world view? UCLA Public Policy Professor Mark Kleiman attempts to fill in the blanks in his course Imperfect Rationality (feed).
Or at least that’s what the course description says. I’ve listened to the first two lectures, and find that the subject matter seems only peripherally related to the theme of imperfect rationality. Instead it seems to be about broad theories that attempt to make sense of public behavior.
For example in the first lecture Kleiman discusses political correctness and then goes on to discuss political partisanship, and how political talk radio is similar to sports talk radio. Sports talk radio is a forum for fans of a particular team express solidarity with other fans. It is not a forum for dispassionate discussion of the merits of the home team. Someone who calls in to commend the referee for a decision against the home team would be violating the implicit contract that the show exists for fans to share their partisanship.
A similar dynamic exists in political talk radio. It’s a place to say “hurray for our side” and insult the opponents. It is not a place for rationally discussing the merits of a political issue.
A 2001 syllabus for the course is here.