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« Unorganized Play, Ostrom Moments, and the Smoothing of Social Interaction | Main | The Role of Principles in Economics and Politics »


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I agree with Pete. The fact is that social scientific phenomena are complex. It is not easy to discern truth from superstition or wishful thinking. I have no problem accepting Caplan's thesis when it comes to individual beliefs about the world as it affects the individual -- really Wicksteed's point made in 1910. In this case,there is an tendency for stupid beliefs to be shed as the costs rise. That is because the feedback is more direct. But it you ask why the general public believes contrary to what "economist's" think -- who? where? when? -- I afraid that standard of truth will vary with many factors. When I was in college (1960s) I would have been considered one of the public whose anti-Keynesian views were fantasies by reference to the economics consensus of the day. What happened? The profession changed. And now it changes again and again.

THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE SYSTEM. My earlier comment which was not offensive just disappeared.

This seems to be a continuation of the trend toward consensus as truth in all field. It began in morality and has been the dominant mode of argument in the climate debate. It's a "democratization" of truth: majority rules.

I think I've heard this argument a dozen times now from one person or another in the field. But then, why don't we have a 'game' we play with professional economists and their areas of expertise, and capture those votes accordingly?

Or, rather, why don't more economists say "I don't have the relevant knowledge."

My grandmonther's era, prior to the postwar degradation of rhetoric, was perfectly comfortable saying "I don't know". Part of the promotion of democracy for the past near century has been encouraging everyone to have an opinion that they have no basis to render, in order to increase the membership at the polls and justify moving the agenda left.

So I would flip this around and say "why don't economists admit their ignorance when polled?"

Because if they don't know their qualifications then the industry has a bigger problem of legitimacy and we DO need better theory canonized.

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