Re: On Banning Drugs, Vitamins, etc.

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 8 Nov 96 11:24:14 PST

I wrote (on 31 Oct):
>I will present a paper of mine which has a model which explains why
>rational regulators would ban products for rational consumers, rather
>than to label them. I explain such behavior as a commitment failure;
>both sides would rather commit to no such bans, but once bans are
>possible, regulators often choose them in the game-theoretic
>equilibrium, since not banning would be taken as an endorsement of
>product quality.

"Peter C. McCluskey" responded (on 3 Nov):
>Why are you trying to argue that regulators would rather avoid such
>bans? My impression is that most people find it hard to hold beliefs
>that their work is harming people, and that it is much easier to
>assume that regulatory agencies attract mainly those workers who
>are inclined to believe that such bans are good.

Sorry to take so long to respond. I've been sick with shingles.

Yes, if we just assume different people have different beliefs, we
expect those who think its a good idea to tend to be in govt more.
But why should there be such a variation in beliefs? My model
predicts that most everyone would do as they do in their

Consider the analogy of explaining war. Some people think there is a
variation in beliefs about whether war is good, and those nutzos who
think war is good are more likely to be soldiers, and soldiers decide
if we have wars. I don't consider this a very good theory of war.
I'd rather think in terms of strategic games with asymmetric info.

Robin D. Hanson