Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 16, 2016

in Curious Task, Economics, Hubris and humility, Scientism, State of Macro

… is from pages vii-viii of Arnold Kling’s hot-off-the-press new book, Specialization and Trade: A Re-introduction to Economics (footnotes deleted; link added; original emphasis):

Early in 2015, I came across a volume of essays edited by E. Roy Weintraub titled MIT and the Transformation of American Economics.  After digesting the essays, I thought to myself, “So that’s how it all went wrong.”

Let me hasten to mention that my own doctorate in economics, which I obtained in 1980, comes from MIT.  Also, the writers of Weintraub’s book are generally laudatory toward MIT and its influence.

Yet I have come to believe in the wake of the MIT transformation, which began soon after World War II, that economists have lost the art of critical thinking.  The critical thinker always asks, “How do you know that?”  The MIT approach suppresses that question and instead presumes that economic researchers and policymakers are capable of obtaining knowledge that in reality is beyond their grasp.  That is particularly the case in the field known as macroeconomics, whose practitioners claim to know how to manage the overall levels of output and employment in the economy.

Arnold goes on, in the Acknowledgements, to say that he has “been influenced at a distance by several members of the faculty at George Mason University” – including Pete Boettke, Tyler Cowen, and Garett Jones.

And we at GMU Econ have been – and continue to be – influenced by Arnold’s writings.

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