Economic Principles for Students

Here are some examples of the principles that teachers can use to expand concepts presented in formal course material. These principles don't have to be taught in the context of any particular class.

It's an empirical question. This is a comment that ought to terminate many more conversations than it does. For many of the questions and issues we discuss, there is an answer available. Look it up and see. There's no point in discussing the merits of taking multivitamins when there are several sources that can provide a definite answer to that question. If you can't find an answer, think about what kind of research could provide an answer. That thought experiment may teach you something about the issue in question—if only that you're not going to get an answer worth paying attention to without doing a great deal of work.

Beware the "man who" statistic, as in, "I know a man who …." The fact that your friend's baby had the measles/mumps/rubella vaccination and subsequently was found to be autistic does not count as evidence that compels, or even really supports, anyone's belief that vaccinations cause autism.

Experts are the worst people to trust—except for all those other people you might consult. If there's a consensus among the people who deserve to be called experts, the rest of us don't have much choice but to accept their view. And the key word here is consensus, which doesn't mean unanimity. You can find a stray PhD here and there who will say anything.

Done is better than perfect. Google employees are constantly reminding one another of this maxim. There comes a point when a project has to wrap up. That's when the likely costs of improvement outweigh the likely benefits.

And speaking of costs and benefits, important decisions for society, for your business, and for yourself should be based on a cost/benefit analysis. Decision theorists since Benjamin Franklin say that you'll make a better decision if you explicitly list the positive and negative aspects of each alternative and give them weight according to their importance and the probability that they will happen. This practice can result in getting a better refrigerator—and in getting a better life.

Sleep on it. Psychologists are discovering that, in some respects, the unconscious mind is a better decision maker than the conscious mind. For one thing, the conscious mind puts too much weight on aspects of the decision that can be described verbally. The unconscious mind takes murkier, harder-to-articulate but nevertheless relevant aspects into consideration.


Folksonomies: economics education principles

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cost/benefit analysis:FieldTerminology (0.718436 (positive:0.320969)), Benjamin Franklin:Person (0.690827 (positive:0.457319)), Google:Company (0.687834 (neutral:0.000000)), trust—except:City (0.668508 (negative:-0.789126))

Mind (0.946774): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Consciousness (0.872900): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Philosophy of mind (0.865382): dbpedia | freebase
Unconscious mind (0.836172): dbpedia | freebase
Decision theory (0.667192): dbpedia | freebase
Cognition (0.606347): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Welfare economics (0.585469): dbpedia | freebase
Cost (0.565859): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Tools for Smarter Thinking
Periodicals>Magazine Article:  Nisbett, Richard E. (March 2016), Tools for Smarter Thinking, Educational Leadership, March 2016 | Volume 73 | Number 6, Retrieved on 2016-03-01
Folksonomies: economics education principles