Risky Decisions: How Mathematical Paradoxes and Other Conundrums Have Shaped Economic Science

Online discussion. At its core, economics is about making decisions. In the history of economic thought, great intellectual prowess has been exerted toward devising exquisite theories of optimal decision making in situations of constraint, risk and scarcity. Yet not all of our choices are purely logical, and so there is a long-standing tension between those emphasizing the rational and irrational sides of human behavior. One strand develops formal models of rational utility maximizing, while the other draws on what behavioral science has shown about our tendency to act irrationally. In this talk, George Szpiro will give examples of mathematical paradoxes and psychological conundrums that have led to advancements in economic science. He will challenge the audience with questions about how to make decisions, and thereby show how people who believe themselves to be rational can be led astray. Advance registration is required. Registered guests will receive the Zoom link prior to the program.

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