Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Real Reason Dinosaurs Became Extinct

If doctors became better at curing lung cancer what would happen to the number of people who smoke cigarettes? What would happen to the overall number of people who died from lung cancer? Explain.


(The title to this blog post is in reference to a The Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson in which several dinosaurs were standing around smoking cigarettes--very funny stuff.)


Congratulations to Yang Yang for being the first to submit a reasoned answer to this week's question.

2 comments:

Yang Yang said...

If doctors became better at curing lung cancer what would happen to the number of people who smoke cigarettes?
Because People will react to incentives.Smoking is safer.It will decrease the number of people who died from lung cancer,but increase the number of peopke who smoke cigarettes.
What would happen to the overall number of people who died from lung cancer?
Increasing the number of peopke who smoke cigarettes will lead more people who don't smoking are standing around by the smoking cigarettes. It will lead more people who don't smoking get lung cancer,then died from lung cancer.

It is similar with "seat belt laws".

Yuan Tao said...

Everybody knows that smoking is one of the “chief culprits” leading to lung cancer.We should think about this problem in different ways. Whether this “news” is known by the public or not is the key factor.
1. That doctors are becoming more skillful is not known by public. Under this situation, the number of people who smoke will not change too much and the overall number of people who will die from lung cancer should dercease because of the new technology of medical engineering.
2. That doctors are becoming more skillful is known by public. Under this situation, a problem called “moral hazard” is caused (Comparative Economics In a Transforming World Economiy pg40).The news is a kind of “imperfect information” which causes smokers to behave more carelessly because they think their livers are insured by the new technology of medical engineering. Furthermore, the potential smokers who worried about their own health in the past may also become part of this “smoker population” now. Thus, the number of smokers will increase a lot. In addition, due to the careless behaviours performed by smokers, the number of second-hand smokers is going to increase. As a result, the number of people who suffer from lung cancer will increase without any doubt. Although medical engineering is progressing, people who die from lung cancer may still increase because the increasingly gigantic smoker-base. After all, cancer is still a world difficult problem.