> The usual response to "someone ought to do X" is "why not you?".  Introductory
> classes must meet a lot of constraints.  They must prepare those who will
> continue in the tools that are actually used at higher levels.  And they
> must give the rest some tools they can actually use to understand some
> phenomena around them.

Well, first, I am not an economist. Nothing much I say will be taken
seriuosly by economists (aside from my friends who have to listen!). I do
produce models of rule base behavior, but since they aren't published in
econ journals, they'll probably have zero impact in economics. That's ok.
That's just the nature of academia. But second, rule based modeling can
easily be taught to undergraduates. For example, the Schelling model, as I
pointed out in another post, could easily be taught and yeilds simple but
important results.

> Yes, some people are having some success in explaining some kinds of behavior
> with rules, but such papers have hardly taken over the journals.  And I'm
> somewhat at a loss to think of what particular rules I would teach GMU
> undergraduates to take up half of an Econ 101 class.  Of course one could
> just grab material from current marketing 101 classes.  But is learning to
> market really that important?

I brought up marketing to make a slightly different point. I wasn't
arguing that econ classes should become marketing classes. I was arguing
that people whose profession is to predict economic behavior seem to
do perfectly well without utility maximization theory. A lot of economic
behavior seems to be well described by rules rather than searches for
optimal behaviors. 

Couldn't this be a sign that we should consider a fundamental shift in the
construction of economic theory? Could it be the case that economic
behavior is a continuum? Some large classes of behaviors are probably rule
based while others are the result of searching to optimal outcomes. I
think the most interesting possibility is to think of some situations as
combinations of rules based and classical economic actors (my example was
voting - politicians= rational, voters = rule based). Or how about stock
markets? Professional investors are probably closer to the rational actor
than mom&pop investors. Small time investors seem to go on gut reaction
rules, at leas many of the ones I talked to. How would our understanding
of stock markets change if we thought that there was always a mix of 
rational and rule based actors? 


> Robin Hanson  [EMAIL PROTECTED]  http://hanson.gmu.edu
> Assistant Professor of Economics, George Mason University
> MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
> 703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323 

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