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Distinguished Science Lecture Series Archives

Drs. Paul Zak & Michael Shermer — Moral Markets & the Mind of the Market

In this unusual tag-team lecture Zak and Shermer debunk two myths: (1) Homo economicus: that “economic man” is rational, free and selfish and (2) that evolution and economics are based almost entirely on cutthroat competition and self-maximizing greed. In Zak’s Moral Markets and Shermer’s The Mind of the Market, the authors demonstrate that people are as irrational with money as they are in all other aspects of life, and that Alfred Tennyson’s characterization of competition in nature — “red in tooth and claw”— and the Gordon Gekko “greed is good” characterization of capitalism are woefully incomplete in understanding how evolution and economics works.

Dr. Paul Zak is at the Center for Neuroeconomics, Claremont Graduate University, where he conducts research on the neurobiology of trust, the relationship of touch, oxytocin, and trust, social cognition producing cooperation or conflict, and the link between economic systems, social structures, and trust. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 and is the editor of such technical books as The Euro, the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System and Monetary Stability and Economic Growth. His new book is Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy.

Dr. Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University, and the author of Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe, and The Science of Good and Evil. His latest book is The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics.

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