Betting on Ideas

Wars, Invention, Inflation

Reuven Brenner

Betting on Ideas
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Reuven Brenner

255 pages | © 1986
Paper $32.00 ISBN: 9780226074016 Published July 1989
In this book, Reuven Brenner argues that people bet on new ideas and are more willing to take risks when they have been outdone by their fellows on local, national, or international scales. Such bets mean that people deviate from the beaten path and either gamble, commit crimes, or come up with new ideas in art, business, or politics, and ideas concerning war and peace in particular. By using evidence on gambling, crime, and creativity now and during the Industrial Revolution, by examining innovations in English and French inheritance laws and the emergence of welfare legislation, and by looking at what has happened before and after wars, Brenner reaches the conclusion that hope and fear, envy and vanity, sentiments provoked when being leapfrogged, make humans race.
1. Why Do Nations Engage in Wars?
Appendix 1.1: On Probability, Thinking, and Stress
Appendix 1.2: On Making Up Our Minds . . .
Appendix 1.3: . . . on Political Thought, in Particular
2. On Gambling, Social Instability, and Creativity Now . . .
With Gabrielle A. Brenner
Appendix 2.1: Evidence on Patents: Diagrams and Comments
Appendix 2.2: Firms and International Trade: An Alternative Viewpoint
Appendix 2.3: On the Methodology of a Uniform Approach
3. . . . and during the Industrial Revolution
4. Why Did Inheritance Laws Change?
By Gabrielle A. Brenner
5. On Politics and Inflation
Appendix 5.1: Unemployment: A Note
6. What Insurance Can Indexation Provide?
The Canadian Experiment
Appendix 6.1: Indexation: Additional Viewpoints
7. The Choice
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