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What's an "old foggy"? I know what an old fogey is, but what's an old foggy?

Henry Farrell doesn't get blogging.

One important vein of blogging is about fact checking, rapidly spreading information, thinking and then thinking again out loud, research, coming up with clever new ways of characterizing things, developing a conversational community of like minds, etc.

Sometimes Tyler does this. Sometimes Tyler is busy playing card tricks in order to sustain his audience.

Tyler -- as he says in his book -- is an outlier. His blog sometimes is like a big brain dump, and sometimes it's a like a form of poetry, a clever way to say slightly unconventional things in terms that seem to be simply conventional assumptions.

In one of his guises Tyler is the economists' version of what Daniel Dennett sometimes is -- a highly read, very clever and sometimes original re-packager of other peoples ideas, often not as deep or as sound as the original stuff, but more fun to read (at least for some folks). Dennett, for example, is very fun and informative as a philosopher of biology, but he mostly doesn't hold a candle to the best of them.

Obviously Will doesn't know that you're down with the Dre.

A lot of intellectual work is what philosopher Larr Wright calls "assembling reminders".

Wright is a huge advocate of conversation because conversation creates a community with a shared stock of reminders close at hand.

The "reminders" in economics seem to be all mathematical, those in philosophy all formal machinery. But the most important reminders in economics and in philosophy are reminders about the limitations of the math and the formalism, and reminders about the productive uses of these formal tools. E.g. the reminders you find in Hayek and Wittgenstein.

If you look at Scott Sumner's blog or Nick Rowe's blog or Arnold Kling's blog, there is a lot of assembling of reminders going on -- reminders about what macroeconomists learned in the 1970s, reminders about how the Fed works and what it can and can't do, reminders about the various assumptions of different versions of Keynes, etc.

This is a lot of stuff to have at the front of your head at one time -- and a lot of stuff to get placed in a coherent understanding of things.

For many economists these aren't reminders -- they are new facts, new ideas, new ways of understanding the world. And there is nothing like conversation to force your to think about and deal with stuff you've put out of your mind, or that you've forgotten, or that you haven't grappled with in a long time.

Bloggers like Sumner and Rowe and others talk about how invigorated and intellectually stimulated they are by their blogging. These are special guys -- they aren't "I've got it all figured out" guys like Mankiw or Krugman -- but this is a phenomena that should be recognized and celebrated.

make that:

philosopher Larry Wright

Wright does lots of work on the nature of explanation, informal argument, and the philosophy of science.

What does "prove" mean to Austrian economists other than what Tyler has done?

Actually, Pete was being both an old fogey and an old foggy, :-).

You're again trying to frame me as an opponent of journal publishing. It's just not true. Since I've been blogging I've published pieces in the AER and U. Chicago Law Review, among many other outlets. One thing blogging does mean is that a smaller fraction of journal articles matter and we have new ways of discovering and publicizing which ones do. That's a better way to start on analyzing the question.


Never said you weren't publishing, but did say your a master of the blogging genre. I don't express myself the way I should. But I puzzle over this genre. In particular, I do think a lot of interesting ideas which could not get published in journals get considered as relevant ideas and I cannot figure out really why. And a lot of ideas that get published in journals which I think should matter get dismissed in the blogs.
This is why Will was accusing me of being an "old fogey" --- just unable (or unwilling) to understand the kid's new music.

This made me stop -- and I am still trying to think.

Bottom-line: I did not intend to imply that you are against professional journal publishing. I am just trying to figure out the genre as it is practiced among its best practitioners.

Peter and Tyler,

While we're on the subject of where interesting new ideas can get the most consideration, (so I'm not off-topic, Prof Horwitz) could you tell me where I might even get just a little bit for a "new" idea that after three decades hasn't been able to get any consideration anywhere in the Austrian School, the not completely uninteresting idea that taking from the rich to give to the poor can not reduce but only increase income inequality?

That wasn't exactly true that it hasn't gotten any consideration. It is only after it couldn't be refuted that it failed to get any more consideration.

Blogs fulfil a different role in economics than journal articles. Journals are there to advance the field and develop new and insightful ideas. Blogs usually focus on current events and sharpening rhetoric. Journals are published periodically, and so if they did current events, they would be outdated as soon as they were printed. Blogs allow the readers to challenge the writer who then gets instant feedback on which arguments are convincing and which are not. Asking which is better is like asking if airplanes or boats are better. They are different tools for different purposes.

Isn't it interesting and just fun to see economists with different views like krugman, hamilton, sumner, horwitz, etc. reacting to event like the financial crisis, coming up with some 'political economy', and thereby producing a contest of ideas? journals are of course much, much, much more important for science. yet nobody argued that blogging should be a substitute for professional work. I guess, most econ-bloggers do not sacrifice their working time, but leisure. Must something be deadly important to make fun?

Journals are a closed shop and intellectual wasteland, and, the Internet, the only free market of ideas.

I tried for over thirty years, before the advent of the internet, to get a hearing for my new theory of redistribution. I even spent thousands of dollars advertising it in libertarian journals.

Nothing came of it.

Today, thanx to the Internet, I can challenge a Boettke and a Cowen out in the open, and they may still run but they can't hide from the challenge.

or, more probably, you are not smarter than the entire profession and your 'new theory of distribution' just isn't the Holy Grail. perhaps, no money on earth can change that. what I know is that journals are far from being 'intellectual wasteland'. 30 years of intellectual investment ... and you sound like a silly boy: before admitting to be wrong, the entire world must have conspired against your world-shaking contribution to humankind. just sad.


Exposing economic error and instructing the unlearned is what economists do, and, when they don't, it is only because they can't.

My theory may still be wrong, but that’s beside the point.

Since economics is a study of truth and error, not just truth, the issue is not whether the idea is right or not, but relevant or not.

And it isn’t redistribution that’s irrelevant but those who have been avoiding the issue.

You cannot wait for the “experts” to face it, for economics, at its frontiers, has always been an amateur science.

“It would seem that the scientific profession does not always absorb novelties with alacrity. Moreover, professors are men who are constitutionally unable to conceive that the other fellow might be right. This holds for all times and places.”


Economics has at every step of the way been the creation of amateurs, and only usurped by a profession that fights any further progress tooth and nail.


You're the man with something to say about everything.

Is it to be everything but the heart of economics?

Am I to conclude then that there is simply no place in the Austrian School for new ideas?

If I may, the real difference in the journals and the blogs is that the blogs, when well done, offer some hope of educating a public with limited access to the journals and the knowledge necessary to decipher them. I've found the Cafe Hayek blog a wonderful place to get good fundamentals on economic thought (and, Mr. Lesvic, the Austrian School).

Mr Jamison,

The problem with the journals is not just that you don't have the knowledge to decipher them, but that they aren't decipherable. They aren't meant to be. They're meant to be undecipherable. By anybody.

And what has the Austrian School taught you about redistribution?

I can tell you a lot that it hasn't taught you, and is determined not to teach you.

Journals. Schools. They're not, primarily, for the advancement of the science, but protection of the profession.

And if Hayek and Mises came back to the Austrian School today, it wouldn't let them in.

There are certainly exceptions to the rule, that "all professions conspire against humanity," good men within a corrupt profession, but they are more honorary amateurs than typical professionals.

We're fortunate in having such men here, and at a few other locations on the Internet, but they are a rarity, and should be appreciated all the more for it.

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