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My blog has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.


11.19.2006

Efficient Markets and Religion

I have been thinking a lot about the Efficient Markets Hypothesis and how it might apply to the market for religions, in as much as religion is a product or service, the cost of which includes both monetary expenditures, missed work, and the opportunity cost of not believing in your next best alternative religion.

One of the major misunderstandings of EMH is that it requires all market participants to be rational. On the contrary, there can be irrational players, and their mispricing of financial assets presents a near riskless profit opportunity for arbitrageurs.

But how does one arbitrage inefficient religions out of existence and what kind of profit does he get? I can't think of any satisfactory analogy. I know the Shakers disappeared, but that was more of a Darwinian thing because they didn't believe in having kids. In general, religion yields when science comes up with explanations to fill the gaps that motivated religion in the first place. The religion doesn't necessarily die though, it just becomes less supernatural, which is nonetheless a positive development. So the lack of information is definitely a problem here, just as it is a thorn in the side of the EMH.

Where am I going with this? I think the EMH analogy should hold among professors of religious studies. Surely they are able to look at all religions, including their own, with a critical eye. As scholars in the field, they must have in-depth exposure to a great number of religions. Why, then, haven't they settled on a consensus of some sort?

The fact that there is no consensus, in my humble opinion, is proof that no religion is especially convincing. This follows logically from the proposition that none of them is true.

Then what of the lack of consensus for atheism among scholars of religion? I think it's impossible. The sample selection bias is too great. Atheists simply don't go into the field of religious studies.

ok, DJ was right

The Facebook idea is lame. But Blogger is so 2005. My next post will be especially DJ-oriented.

11.12.2006

Update

Okay, I'm not posting notes on Facebook either. I'm just gonna be a bum for a while...