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SCIENCE SALON # 94

Michael Shermer with David Leiser — How We Misunderstand Economics and Why it Matters

This is the first book to explain why people misunderstand economics. From the cognitive shortcuts we use to make sense of complex information, to the metaphors we rely on and their effect on our thinking, this important book lays bare not only the psychological traits that distort our ability to understand such a vital topic, but also what this means for policy makers and civil society more widely.

Shermer and Leiser dive into the mismatch between the complexities of economics and the constraints of human cognition that lie at the root of our misconceptions, as well as explore:

  • folk economics and why our intuitions are so often wrong
  • the evolutionary origins of our thinking about economics and why we are not prepared cognitively to understand complex economic ideas
  • Universal Basic Income
  • income inequality
  • CEO pay and why we think it’s too high
  • the importance of trust in economic exchanges
  • tariffs and Trump
  • China, and
  • reparations for slavery vs. reparations for the Holocaust.

David Leiser is Full Professor of Economic and Social Psychology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He is Past President of the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology, and President of the Economic Psychology Division of the International Association of Applied Psychology. He studies lay conceptions, especially in the economic domain.

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