It’s now available.
If I had it to do over again I’d start with a brief introduction of Slavisa and some information putting the discussion in context. I assumed I’d have administrative access to the page the interview was placed, and that I could compensate with text. Alas, unless you receive the Critical Review newsletter you may be in the dark. Or you may be reading this.
I met Slavisa Tasic, Phd candidate in economics a the University of Turin, last summer in San Antonio at a seminar sponsored by the Critical Review foundation. The article we discuss in the interview is “The Illusion of Regulatory Competence,” found in the newest issue of CR. The priors involved in the piece are thoroughly classical liberal, and it takes a Hayekian perspective on government intervention informed by experimental psychology.
Tasic utilizes the work of two psychologists, Leonid Rozenblit and Frank Keil, and their discovery of what they call “the illusion of explanatory depth” (IOED) – the “…belief that we understand the causes, effects and inner workings of complex mechanisms, events and processes much better than we actually do” – to address the efficacy of regulatory action. Rozenblit and Keil find that, more often than not, participants in their studies of competence and awareness on a variety of issues know far less about said issues (the working of a helicopter, etc.) than they initially thought. In Tasic’s words: “The illusion occurs when we have a general, superficial knowledge about some obvious patterns, and confuse this with insight about the mechanics of a phenomenon.”
Also mentioned in the article (but not the interview) is the work of Dietrich Dorner, whose experiments are, on their face, more relevant to issues of state regulation. Dorner had subjects manipulate computer simulated land use planning scenarios, with poor results manifest due to a lack of taking into account unexpected factor interdependence (competing goals and policy tools). The article did not go into any depth, so to speak, on the specifics involved, but only addressed the frustration of achieving a given goal in the model due to the ignorance that is the article’s theme.
Addressed in the interview, and a closely related subject matter, was behavioral economics. I mention the work of Mario Rizzo and Glen Whitman in undermining the increasingly sophisticated case for a “new paternalism.” Instead of getting into it here, I’ll link to the timely subject matter at Cato Unbound.
I hope to do more interviews in the future, but there is no reason to limit myself to only scholars for Critical Review.