Cass R. Sunstein

Statistically, Who's the Greatest Person in History?

Why quants can't measure historic significance

The stats have an answer. The stats lie.

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The three reasons people ignore warnings about disasters.

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Show Me the Money

Why you keep picking the more expensive cell phone plan—and how behavioral economics can help.

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Charles Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School, has long been one of the most important conservative thinkers in the United States. Under President Reagan, he served, with great distinction, as Solicitor General of the United States. Since then, he has been prominently associated with several Republican leaders and candidates, most recently John McCain, for whom he expressed his enthusiastic support in January. This week, Fried announced that he has voted for Obama-Biden by absentee ballot.

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Misery and Company

Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century By Marc Sageman (University of Pennsylvania Press, 208 pp., $24.95) A few years ago, Daniel Kahneman, David Schkade, and I were involved in several studies of punitive damage awards by juries. We began by asking one thousand or so demographically diverse people to register their judgments about misconduct by various wrongdoers.

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st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } Some of the most interesting work in modern economic theory explores a pervasive social phenomenon: the informational cascade. The concept, first elaborated in a brilliant 1992 paper by Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, and Ivo Welch, illuminates countless social and economic surprises. It is impossible to understand the real estate bubble, or the current financial crisis, without exploring the dynamics of informational cascades.

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In view of the truly despicable efforts, by Sarah Palin and others, to discredit Barack Obama by association, I thought that it might be appropriate to repost a relevant post of mine from this past April. I would add that some of the recent personal attacks fall outside the bounds of decency. Consider, for example, this statement: "This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America. Our opponent is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.

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In the last few weeks, a number of people on the left have expressed disappointment with Barack Obama. Obama has said that the death penalty may be appropriate for child rape. He has applauded the Supreme Court's recognition of an individual right to own guns. He has voted for wiretapping reform that includes retroactive immunity for telephone companies.

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Astoundingly, Sarah Palin has denied that climate change is man-made--not in 1996, not in 1998, not in 2000, not in 2002, but in an interview posted on August 29, 2008. In response to this question: "What is your take on global warming and how is it affecting our country?" Palin answered: "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location.

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The Wall Street Journal has a remarkable interview with Clarence Thomas, available here. In the interview, Thomas states his fidelity to the Constitution "as it's drafted." In context, it seems clear that Thomas means to follow the original understanding of the document (though he resists the term "originalism") The real point is that he is a neutral interpreter. "Maybe I am labeled as an originalist or something, but it's not my constitution to play around with. Let's just start with that. We're citizens. It's our country, it's our constitution.

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