One of the great mistakes of Neoclassical economics is that it treats the economy as a single, monolithic thing (assumed to be in equilibrium and having a “macro” behavior). In other words, the economy is the primary object of analysis. What if I were to tell you that this traditional approach has it backwards? That economic behavior is not a macro thing at all, rather it is the small interacting “agents” of an economic system whose actions give rise to the emergent patterns we observe in the economy as a whole?
Have you noticed how the field of economics is splintered and divided into factions? How it can’t seem to get its act together? That mainstream economists can’t agree whether we should use austerity measures or financial stimulus? Ask three economists what the best policy is for a given circumstance and you’ll get four opinions — or so the story goes.
I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. Cooper (who happens to be a friend since joining our Evonomics Project as an expert advisor) walks us through a highly accessible history of scientific revolutions — the birth of astronomy, founding of modern medicine, discovery of natural selection, and confirmation of plate tectonics — to show us how they work. He then applies this conceptual scalpel to the field of economics. His diagnoses is simple. It is a field in the turmoil of birthing, not yet a science but almost there.
The book culminates with a powerful articulation of what the new paradigm might be, inspired by key metaphors of circulation (in the theory of blood flow from medical science) and natural selection (from evolutionary studies).
Get your copy today and help accelerate the creation of a true economic science. The world desperately needs one, that’s for sure!
Have you struggled to make sense of political behavior? Wondered why people seemingly vote against their self-interest? Been confused about how the words we use can have different meanings that lead to conflict and arguments? A systematic approach to moral worldviews in politics has been undertaken by researchers in linguistics, anthropology, sociology, and other related fields.
We live in a very complex world. Small changes in one place can have cascading effects across entire systems of society. And, as we know so well, when confronted with difficult situations, people often make mistakes because they are not able to see these indirect consequences of their actions. This begs the question How does human decision-making work in complex environments?
Our world has become profoundly interconnected, creating new categories of risk that must be managed at the global level. These risks are systemic — meaning they arise through the interactions among different moving parts of society as a whole.
Financial crises, ecological decline, loss of trust in governance, and the spread of disease are all systemic risks that require new management tools and insights from complexity science as we transition to a more sustainable, thriving world.
Did you know that pandemics have shaped the course of history? When two armies battle, the one whose members have survived past disease have a distinct advantage over those who are more susceptible.
It is becoming more common to talk about the interplay of biological and cultural evolution — how our brains, bodies, and minds are shaped by evolutionary processes. What we don’t talk about as much is the way that biological processes have shaped the broad patterns of history.
Among the many mistakes in traditional economics is the notion that self-interest always leads to better outcomes at the societal level. This assumption — usually attributed to Adam Smith — isn’t how economies actually work. Adam Smith himself knew this. He made the more nuanced observation that, much to his surprise, selfish motives sometimes lead to beneficial group outcomes by the “invisible hand” of the market.