Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on July 22, 2016

in Growth, Hubris and humility, Innovation

… is from page 67 of Joel Mokyr’s forthcoming (October 2016) volume from Princeton University Press, A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy (footnote deleted; link added):

Max Planck famously noted (with some exaggeration) that a new scientific insight never triumphs by convincing its opponents, but only because these opponents eventually die off.  Within technology there was and still is considerable resistance to inventors coming from vested interests, known (somewhat unfairly) as Luddism.  Deirdre McCloskey (2016a, p. 94) points out that such words as “innovation” and “novelty” in the past often had negative connotations.  An emotional attachment to traditional ways of doing things made novelty look suspect.

It is more than passing strange that the opponents of new patterns of trade and of new methods of production, financing, and distribution – it is remarkably odd that those who are expressly afraid of, pessimistic about, and (hence) hostile to an economic future made open-ended by entrepreneurial creativity and market competition – include not only people who self-identify as “conservative” but also many people who self-identify as “Progressive.”  The only “progress” such “Progressives” really want is the progressively more expansive and harsh use of force to prevent individuals from acting in ways that “Progressives” do not understand and fear.


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