The Muscular Hayek

by Russ Roberts on December 14, 2009

in Complexity & Emergence

Bryan Caplan dismisses Hayek’s contributions as flabby:

I’ve long since lost all patience with Hayek.  His original, true ideas could have been five good blog posts, his errors and bizarre obsessions are numerous, and his writing style insults every person who ever tried to write a decent sentence.

Five blog posts, huh? I guess that’s something like saying Coase only wrote a few good articles. Or only had a few good ideas.

Over the last six years or so, since coming to George Mason and in the last three years since conducting a weekly podcast, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the following ideas:

1. Some orderly things are not intended by anyone.

2. The division of labor is limited by the extent of the market.

3. It is easy to fall prey to confirmation bias.

4. Politicians respond to incentives.

These are pretty simple ideas. When you give people the one sentence version or paragraph version they nod and tell you they agree with the essence of the idea. But I find these ideas to be quite deep. They are easy to understand but very difficult to absorb. The more I think about them, the deeper is my understanding. I give Hayek credit for number 1 on the list. He didn’t invent the idea. But he made me think about it the most.

My advice for Bryan is to have more patience.

Dan Klein’s view is here.

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