David D. Friedman

David D. Friedman - 2020-08-13 - Original post - cached version

People are claiming that the incentive for each country to get a propaganda win by developing its vaccine is bad thing and that Russia is acting badly by introducing a vaccine that has not yet been adequately tested. The only argument I can see for that is the idea that if this vaccine flops...

David D. Friedman - 2020-08-12 - Original post - cached version

Nobody appears to have any evidence that the vaccine is either dangerous or ineffective. What people are complaining about is a lack of evidence in the other direction, both because the Russians have not been publishing information on their research and because it is being brought out prior to...

David D. Friedman - 2020-08-07 - Original post - cached version

Calculations of the requirement for herd immunity are based, as I understand it, on the implicit assumption that everyone is equally at risk, hence that the probability that one infected person will infect more than one other can be deduced from data on the early spread of the disease. That...

David D. Friedman - 2020-08-07 - Original post - cached version
I have been thinking about the  problem that computer dating is designed to solve. I can see four different approaches, three that exist in both realspace and online, one that could exist online but I am not sure does. 1. Examine the characteristics of many people, looking for someone you believe...
David D. Friedman - 2020-08-03 - Original post - cached version
I am mining my accumulated blog posts to convert them into one or more books and have started the first chapter. It is based on exchanges with a group of libertarian political philosophers who describe themselves as Bleeding Heart Libertarians. It occurred to me that the argument I was making there...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-31 - Original post - cached version
As some of you know, I am a long time participant in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group that does historical recreation, mostly medieval and renaissance but including everything before the seventeenth century. I normally spend two weeks of each year camped out with ten thousand other...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-22 - Original post - cached version
One factor relevant to different rates of Covid deaths in different countries is population density. People often talk about herd immunity as if it required the same percentage of immune people everywhere, but that obviously is not true. In a society where the average individual only encounters...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-22 - Original post - cached version

I am seeing multiple news stories warning that Sweden is a horrible example of the bad result of not locking down. They report, correctly, that Sweden's deaths per capita figures is a little higher than that of the U.S., much higher than Denmark and Norway, although a little lower than the U.K...

David D. Friedman - 2020-07-22 - Original post - cached version

The headline of a news story today:

CDC study shows COVID-19 cases may be 10 times higher than reported

The story warns that this shows that states that are opening up are making a mistake, that the problem is worse than we thought. It does not seem to have occurred to the author...

David D. Friedman - 2020-07-19 - Original post - cached version
The danger in realspace classes during the current pandemic is almost entirely to professors and staff, since students who catch Covid, unless they have some significant medical problem, have a very low chance of dying from it — as best I can tell under one in a thousand. For an adult over 65,...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-18 - Original post - cached version
Andrew Sullivan has a very interesting column explaining why he is leaving New York Magazine. Unlike Bari Weiss, he has no complaints about how the editors of the magazine treated him. He is leaving because enough of the staff are intolerantly woke that someone with his views no longer fits in....
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-17 - Original post - cached version
The problem of government agents, in particular police, doing bad things is currently a live issue. It is one I have been concerned with for a long time — ever since Chicago police murdered two sleeping Black Panthers back when I was a graduate student in Chicago and were never charged with the...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-17 - Original post - cached version
1. I have been wondering about the current evidence on mortality rates. Assuming, as I do, that the death figures are reasonably accurate — I calculated an upper bound for the number of people dying of something else while having Covid and being mislabeled in an earlier post — the uncertainty...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-13 - Original post - cached version
I've decided to see if I can make one or more books out of material from this blog. I don't have an exact calculation, but my rough estimate is that I have made more than a thousand posts, so probably upwards of half a million words. I am currently going through the blog, making a list of...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-10 - Original post - cached version
1. There is an annual "Friedman Conference" in Australia, which I had agreed to attend and speak at before the pandemic made travel too risky. This year they are doing it online, starting at 3 P.M. Pacific time this afternoon (Friday, July 10th). I am speaking on anarcho-capitalism, along with...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-10 - Original post - cached version
I routinely use Google to look for things online that mention me. Recently it's gotten much harder because of the increasing number of web pages that are constructed by taking chunks of text from elsewhere likely to get clicked on, mashing them together, and then showing you either a fake update of...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-10 - Original post - cached version
I am  thinking of a recent high profile case in Florida. Law enforcement planted video cameras in massage parlors and filmed various sexual acts, including Robert Kraft, the wealthy owner of the New England Patriots, receiving a hand job. They eventually arrested nearly 300 men and more than ten...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-09 - Original post - cached version
The article is long, perceptive, reasonably fair. It's critical mostly of the overreaction of some in Silicon Valley, seen as part of a more general conflict between tech and media. And it doesn't give Scott's real name. One interesting question is whether its publication will result in the NYT...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-08 - Original post - cached version
I have been looking at graphs showing new cases and deaths for Santa Clara Country, where I live, and the contrast between the two patterns is striking. Judged by new cases, things started to get worse around the beginning of June, and rose pretty steadily thereafter. The peak was June 23rd, at a...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-07 - Original post - cached version
I have just finished recording all of my nonfiction books except for Price Theory and the two SCA books coauthored with my wife, and all of them are, or in one case shortly will be, up on Amazon as audiobooks. A number of issues arose in doing it, so I thought I would ask for opinions. The first...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-03 - Original post - cached version
We would like to know  the mortality rate, the percentage of people who get the disease who die as a result. That requires two numbers: number infected and number dead as a result. The best estimates of number infected come from seroprevalence studies, testing a random sample of people for...
David D. Friedman - 2020-07-01 - Original post - cached version
One of the subplots in Rand's novel involves a conflict between the wealthy owner of a major newspaper and his staff. The owner wants the paper to support the novel's protagonist, an architect who, having provided the design for a housing project on condition that nothing be changed, destroyed the...
David D. Friedman - 2020-06-27 - Original post - cached version
Slate Star Codex is a blog run by a young psychiatrist with a very wide range of interests and an extraordinary amount of intellectual energy, posting under the name of Scott Alexander. In recent years, more than half of my online time has been spent reading and posting on it — one reason I have...
David D. Friedman - 2020-05-21 - Original post - cached version
Back before the pandemic, we hosted meetups every month or two for people who read Slate Star Codex, the blog I spend a good deal of time on. People came over to our house on Saturday afternoon for food and conversation — typically twenty to forty people — starting at 2:00, ending at 10:00. I'm...
David D. Friedman - 2020-05-03 - Original post - cached version
I have been making some calculations on the alternative ways of testing a vaccine, and unless I misunderstand something, the current procedure not only takes longer, it probably kills more people. Here are my calculations: Method 1: Give the vaccine to N1 people. Wait a month. If none of them...
David D. Friedman - 2020-04-25 - Original post - cached version
I now have almost all of the recordings of quotes I need for the audiobook of my Future Imperfect. The ones I do not have satisfactory versions of are: “I disagree with your principles, so will require you to die for mine.” (It's a takeoff on a quote attributed to Voltaire, so a mild French...
David D. Friedman - 2020-04-01 - Original post - cached version
A number of people have kindly recorded for me quotes for my audiobook of Future Imperfect, but there are still a fair number to be done. I could do all of them myself but would rather  have voices that better fit the speakers.   A list of the quotes that still need to be done is webbed.


David D. Friedman - 2020-03-18 - Original post - cached version

I am in the process of converting my book Future Imperfect into an audiobook. It has embedded quotes from a wide variety of sources and it occurred to me that, instead of reading all of them myself, I should get each read in a voice different from mine and more suitable to the person I am...

David D. Friedman - 2020-02-28 - Original post - cached version

I will be giving a series of talks in Europe, from March 3rd through March 15th. Some are open to anyone who wants to come, others you should check with the sponsoring group. They are:
Oxford, Brasenose College, March 3rd,
Law Without the State: Past, Present and Future
Open to...

David D. Friedman - 2020-02-05 - Original post - cached version
My third novel has just been published. It is available on Amazon as both a paperback and a kindle. The cover is by Anna Krupitsky. Brothers is the sequel to Salamander, my second novel, unrelated to Harald, my first. The setting is about fifty years after Olver, that world's equivalent to...
David D. Friedman - 2020-01-28 - Original post - cached version
Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life is now available as an audiobook from, read by me. The book is written for readers who would like to learn economics for the fun of it — economics understood not as the study of the economy but as a tool for understanding human behavior:...
David D. Friedman - 2019-11-23 - Original post - cached version
As I mentioned in a recent post, I have now brought Hidden Order back into print. I am considering producing an audiobook of it, but there is a serious problem.

The problem is that the book contains more than forty figures. I could make the figures available on my web page or on a pdf...

David D. Friedman - 2019-11-22 - Original post - cached version
Now that the new edition of Hidden Order is out, I'm thinking about doing another nonfiction book. One intriguing possibility is a book using World of Warcraft to teach economics. For example ... Consider the economics of the auction market. To first approximation—perfect competition, zero...
David D. Friedman - 2019-11-22 - Original post - cached version

I have just republished Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life as  a kindle and a paperback, both available from Amazon. 

 (Lovely new cover by Anna Krupitsky)

The book is intended for readers who would like to learn economics for the fun of it, economics understood not as...

David D. Friedman - 2019-10-17 - Original post - cached version
I am attending a conference in Sydney, Australia, from May 22nd to May 24th. I plan to spend about two weeks on the trip, so would be happy to give other talks in Australia or possibly places nearby — as viewed from the U.S. — such as New Zealand or Singapore. If you are interested in arranging...
David D. Friedman - 2019-10-17 - Original post - cached version
I am going to be in Madrid, March 6-8th, for the European Students for Liberty convention. I plan to spend about two weeks on the trip, so would be happy to give other talks before or after. If you would like to arrange one, get in touch either here, via email (, or both.
David D. Friedman - 2019-07-06 - Original post - cached version
The stock market is also soaring, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average setting a new record high this week on optimism about an end to the U.S.-China trade war (News story)
I have a new explanation for Trump's trade war with China. It makes us poorer....
David D. Friedman - 2019-07-06 - Original post - cached version
I recently started rereading Gate if Ivrel, C.J. Cherryh’s first novel. The introduction is by Andre Norton, at the time a very successful author.  Cherryh, in that novel, is doing the sort of thing Norton did, but doing it much better. And Norton, to her immense credit, realizes it and is...
David D. Friedman - 2019-06-14 - Original post - cached version
 Suppose you are a professional academic who wants to publish a journal article in order to improve your chance of getting an offer, getting tenure, getting a raise. One way to do so is to produce and write up research that provides support for a novel theory. One problem is that, if the theory is...
David D. Friedman - 2019-03-25 - Original post - cached version
I have a file drawer full of research projects that I at some point started and then abandoned. Since I am unlikely to ever get back to them I thought it would be worth describing some here in the hope that someone else, earlier in his career, would be interested in reviving them, perhaps for a...
David D. Friedman - 2019-02-24 - Original post - cached version
Some time back, my wife and I published our medieval cookbook, How to Milk an Almond, Stuff an Egg, and Armor a Turnip. In addition to making it available as a paperback on Amazon, I also put a pdf of it up on my web page for anyone who wanted to download. It recently occurred to me that it would...
David D. Friedman - 2019-02-19 - Original post - cached version
According to news stories based on statements by Andrew McCabe, he tried to arrange to remove Trump via the 25th Amendment. This raises two puzzles: 1. Under the 25th Amendment, the VP plus a majority of the cabinet can temporarily suspend the power of the President. But the next step is for the...
David D. Friedman - 2019-02-11 - Original post - cached version
I am in the process of recording my first book, The Machinery of Freedom, which I plan to make available on Audible and iTunes. So far I have recorded parts I-III, which include all of the contents of the first edition, and the recordings are now on my web page for comments. If you notice any...
David D. Friedman - 2019-02-09 - Original post - cached version
One point I have not seen discussed in comparisons between Vanessa Tyson's accusation of Justin Fairfax and Christine Ford's of Brett Kavanaugh is the reason that the more recent accusation is also much more likely to be true.  For any given woman to invent such a story is quite unlikely. That...
David D. Friedman - 2019-02-04 - Original post - cached version
A thought on inequality, based in part on a point in The Bell Curve. The authors argue that one effect of a meritocratic system is an increase in assortative mating. It occurs to me that the same effect would be expected from any change that increased the range over which individuals sought...
David D. Friedman - 2019-01-24 - Original post - cached version
The nice thing about the shower in the hotel room where I recently spent a few days was that the enclosure was quite long, long enough so that towels hung up at one end of it were a safe distance from the shower head at the other end. Also, and more important, long enough so that I could use the...
David D. Friedman - 2019-01-22 - Original post - cached version
I recently attended an event at which Bill Weld, who was the vice presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party in 2018, spoke. I learned two things:

1. He is not a libertarian

His solution to the problems of technological unemployment was some sort of government retraining program.  His...
David D. Friedman - 2019-01-17 - Original post - cached version
Legal Systems Very Different from Ours, mostly by me but with one chapter each by Peter Leeson and David Skarbek, is now available on Amazon, both as a paperback and as a kindle.  One of the nice things about current publishing technology is that revision is pretty much costless. So if any of you...
David D. Friedman - 2019-01-11 - Original post - cached version

The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still the richest families in Florence 

is the headline of a story describing some interesting research in economic history. I have not read the article it is based on but, assuming the report is correct, its conclusion is that there is a close...
David D. Friedman - 2019-01-11 - Original post - cached version
My new book, Legal Systems very Different from Ours (with one chapter by Peter Leeson and one by David Skarbek), appears to be available on Amazon now as a paperback (meaning that I haven’t actually gotten a copy), and I’m in the process of using Calibre to turn it into a Kindle. One tricky bit...


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