In what I see as an incredible irony, a popular new shtick among the intelligentisia is that we make behavioral mistakes. Man does not always act like the rational actor that economics presupposes. Of course, that is a bit of a straw man argument. What economists presuppose about human action is that ex-ante people are trying to improve their condition. They typically do this by comparing the expected additional benefits of an action under consideration with the expected additional costs and then by choosing the one they think will make them better off.
But many adults have told me that economics is too focused on this concept of efficiency. I am told that life is about more than just comparing benefits and costs. What if I agree with this? Then how the heck has the behavioral economics revolution become a revolution? The behavioralists exist because they argue that we don’t always make the choices that are best for us. But this is exactly what the study of economics is about. Ask a behavioralist about their thoughts on markets, and I’ll be a cup of coffee that the median answer will be that “markets go too far” and that “there’s more to life than efficiency” … which I find tremendously hard to square with the behavioral concerns, which after all are attempts to make us behave … more … rationally. What gives? Is this just the folk view that I am characterizing?