Betting on Ideas: Wars, Invention, Inflation

Overview


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...
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Overview


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.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Reprint of the well-received sequel to Brenner's History: the human gamble, (Chicago, 1983). The author continues the line of argument presented in his earlier book: 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. Expanding upon this provocative theory, indeed even looking for evidence to contradict it, Brenner applies his impressive abilities, using both expressive, ordinary language and mathematics, to a great diversity of social phenomena. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Michael R. Smith
This is a very clever book which can be read with pleasure and profit by many sociologists. The book is a pleasure to read because it displays such dazzling erudition. In out teaching and research most of us labour in fairly delimited areas. Brenner, in contrast, ranges across institutional areas, and centuries, and continents, with remarkable aplomb: from lottery ticket purchases in today's Quebec to the evolution of inheritance laws in Europe, to eighteenth-century painting, to theories of inflation, and so on. And in so doing he ornaments his work with impressive array of illustrations drawn from literature and culture more generally; from Troilus and Cressida early on, to the musical taste of Glenn Gould at the end. It is worth reading this book because it is fun. Sociologists can read this book with profit as an example of what an intellectually defensible model in the social sciences should look like...Brenner does build a choice theoretic model. That he has not said the last word on the subjects to which he applies his model is beside the point. At least he starts from the right place. -- (Michael R. Smith, McGill University, The Canadian Journal of Sociology, Vol. 12, 1987)
John Nye
In Betting on Ideas, Reuven Brenner extends the insights into human behavior under uncertainty he first put forth in History - the Human Gamble (1983) by applying his theory to war, inflation, creativity and the history of French inheritance laws ... Having found the first book ingennious and facsinating, yet terribly frustrating, I can now report that the second work is equally ingenious and fascinating. -- (John Nye, Washington University, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, November 1987)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226074016
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1989
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 255
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents


Preface
Acknowledgments
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
Notes
References
Index
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