Sunday, February 9, 2014

The economic way of thinking: Human sacrifice

This is, admittedly, a pretty gruesome topic, but I decided to post on it because it illustrates both the power and the creativeness of economic thinking.  Pete Leeson is a major economist working at probably the most free-market friendly economics department in the US -- George Mason University.   Here's an excerpt from an article featuring an interview with Leeson's and his analysis of human sacrifice as an expression of economic forces:
From his position in the Department of Economics at George Mason University, Leeson is making a career out of finding the rational explanation for historically irrational things. He's published papers on the medieval European practice of putting rats and vermin up on trial, an African society that poisons chickens to tell the future, and he has an upcoming paper on the practice of auctioning off wives. So ritualized sacrifice fit right in his wheelhouse.
His argument is fascinating and really shows how creative economic thinking can be.