Vampire Freakonomics Redux

In Chapter 12 (“Buy or Bite?”) of Economics of the Undead (see above), we explain why vampires are not necessarily bad or unethical creatures. In summary, without a legal market for the purchase and sale of blood, vampires have no other choice but to steal their supplies of blood through fraud and force. We thus proposed the creation of legalized “blood markets” to allow consensual transfers of blood between humans and vampires. Our essay was featured last month in this Freakonomics podcast. Some of the comments to the podcast, however, have really been bugging us for some time. Fowler, for example, notes that “Vampires ‘procreate’ via their bite,” while Davo writes: “[Enrique Guerra-Pujol] makes a critical error: in most vampire lore, they are a different (more advanced) species. Asking vampires to buy human blood is like asking humans to buy a ham hock off of a pig.” After giving these comments careful thought, we conclude they do not rebut or refute our original argument in favor of markets. Here’s why:

Let’s start with Davo’s point about vampire psychology first, since this anti-market argument is easy to dismiss. Since markets are generally win-win, the social status or innate biology of buyers and sellers really doesn’t matter. People (including ultra-advanced and snooty vampires) will engage in trade when it is mutually beneficial to do so. Fowler’s comment, by contrast, implies that all vampires are rapists. After all, if vampires “procreate via their bite”, and if such bites are non-consensual, then what Fowler is really saying is that a vampire bite is analogous to rape. This can’t be right based on the various fictional portrayals of vampires we have seen. But even if Fowler’s analysis is correct, then our argument in favor of human-vampire markets is all the more stronger. In fact, assuming that some humans would like to become vampires (recall the first part of the Freakonomics podcast with Steven Levitt), perhaps vampires could actually charge us for the privilege of being bitten, for turning us into vampires!

prior probability

Check out this fun Freakonomics podcast featuring economists Steve Horwitz and Glen Whitman as well as yours truly, and while you’re at it, why not check out the Economics of the Undead blog too?

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