One recent article by Tomáš Sedláček is full of elementary mistakes that a "great popular economist" should not make. They are perhaps not acceptable even for a first-year university student.
Imagine the following situation. After a delicious Christmas dinner, you move to the living room, hand out presents, treat yourself to a cup of coffee or sherry and want to bring the relaxed Christmas mood to a sweet end, so you stand in front of the whole family and end your celebratory speech with the words: she was so excellent, mom, that I give you a thousand crowns here for her! No, a thousand is not enough, it was really great and you had to spend a long time preparing, so fifteen hundred, here's your mother - thank you! ”And you pull the appropriate amount out of your wallet on the spot. What would happen? My mother would certainly burst into tears: not gratitude, but shame.
Mr. Sedlacek it in one of his articles he considers it a paradox, something special. It describes the thesis of the American behavioral "economist", who in this case shows that people are (according to him) irrational, sometimes even intentionally and predictably.
Messrs. Ariely and Sedláček base this thesis on the fact that people behave differently on the market and differently in personal relationships, "in society". While in the first payment is normal for us, in the second environment we (allegedly) reject it.
Dr. Sedláček should probably return to school from lecturers at the Charles University. I also know (and that's something to say) that Mr. Sedláček (and also Ariely) is wrong.
If Mr. Sedláček pays his mother for money for Christmas Eve dinner, it's his business. Even if he didn't, he would be rational. The question of rationality is a subjective question: we each have your own rationality. The rationality that arises from our personal preferences, from our personality and from the given situation. Sure, I'm used to paying for food in a restaurant, for example, and I wouldn't think of going to a restaurant after a payment and washing dishes after payment. It's my personal preference, I want to pay for the service. If I were given the option to "pay or wash the dishes", I would choose the first option.
On the contrary, I wash the dishes for my parents. I even respectfully thank you for that food, I'm decent to my mother, and even if the food isn't exactly fine, I won't change my behavior. Am I paying my mother? Definitely yes. Do I behave (even in the case of bad food) irrational? Certainly not. I care much more about my mother's satisfaction (about her good feeling from cooked food) than about satisfying my taste buds. I'm still rational. However, if I behaved differently, I would be rational anyway.
Simply put, there is no objective rationality. But should Mr. Sedlacek know this, or not?
Mr. Sedláček makes another elementary mistake in his interpretation of egoism. He writes that people who pursue their interests are selfish. However, because many people do not just pursue their interest, they are not all selfish, so they do not maximize their benefit and are therefore irrational. Again, social relations are said to be guided by a kind of irrational mechanics.
Dr. Sedláček would say about me that if I want to help my mother wash the dishes, even though I don't get the money for it, I'm irrational because I'm not behaving so completely rationally and I'm not maximizing my benefits. But this is nonsense of absolutely monstrous proportions.
People have some interests of their own. Only these interests rank on an imaginary scale from a completely selfish region to an "altruistic region". No matter how one behaves, one always pursues one's interest, one's own well-being. First there is that self-interest, and then there is the division into egoism or altruism. What Mr. Sedláček wrote does not apply:
"Economists mostly believe that the engine of society is selfishness, ie the preference for a clearly defined self-interest."
But it is true that the "engine of society" is the pursuit of self-interest. That's all! Own interest may be foreign benefit.
That is why I do not see anything strange about what Mr. Sedláček is surprised about:
"They came out posthumously this week History of economic theories, amazing book doyena of Czech Economics by Professor Milan Sojka, whom everyone liked. That's why many people, mostly economists, have been involved in publishing this gem without expecting any compensation. If you told us that we did it for selfish reasons (money, visibility, etc.), you would probably offend us. At the same time, why should we feel offended if, in our opinion, egoism is such a normal and strong motive? Because there are things we want to do for the good (of our loved ones or anyone else) and essentially we do not want to be paid or otherwise rewarded for them. Selfless moneyless donations are simply a very strong motive that we want to keep and where we do not want to let economic thinking fiercely. "
This is a completely rational and extremely "economic" action.
Sedláček (and Ariely) in the given article builds on several completely obvious economic delusions. Rationality is objective, payment is only made in cash, a rational person is an egoist who wants to have a lot of money, and economics is the science of money.
It is these myths, which are so detached from reality, that cause a large part of people to see in economics not science, but quackery, the "paved." These and similar myths must be refuted. It should be pointed out that economic theory does not say anything like that. That the myths in question are completely at odds with the axioms of economics. Only when we can do this will the economy gain a firm foothold in the perception of itself by science.
However, those myths are relatively difficult to refute when one of the most popular economists builds his theses and reflections on them. However, for our consolation, it should be noted that he makes not only the charlatan of all of us who are involved in economics, but also of himself.