Prof. Peter Leeson (Ph.D., George Mason University) is the Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University. Formerly, Professor Leeson was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Visiting Fellow in Political Economy and Government at Harvard University, and the F. A. Hayek Fellow at the London School of Economics.
In the preface of your 2009 book on piracy (The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates, Princeton University Press), you
asked your girlfriend to marry you. That’s a risk that most people
wouldn’t take. Were there any economic principles at work in taking such
an unusual approach to that decision (consciously
at the time or now looking back after a few years)?
There are economic principles at work in taking
every decision! The one guiding that decision: Of the proposal
alternatives then available to me, which one would Ania appreciate the
most – maximize her “proposal profit”? I think I got pretty close, and
we’ll have been enjoying the returns for nine
years come this spring.
Your just-published book (WTF?! An Economic Tour of the Weird,
Stanford University Press) highlights many superstitious practices and
their rational economic effects. Many people would think of
superstitions as inherently irrational. Should we re-define
“superstition” in light of your findings?
about we redefine “irrational” instead? Something like this, “The
pervasive, false belief according to which people do not always pursue
their goals as best they can
given their limitations and the limitations of their environment. See
If I’d like to become an economist, what’s the biggest mistake I should avoid?
confuse economics with the technical tools often used by economists –
or with psychology. Also, don’t confuse a counterfeit Cohiba Behike with
the real thing: the
former tastes like crap and won’t do anything for you; the latter is
sublime and will (in a few years, my young friend!) make you a better