… is from page 6 of Liberty Fund’s newly published, expanded English-language edition, brilliantly edited by David Hart, of Frédéric Bastiat’s great work Economic Sophisms and “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen”; specifically, it’s from Bastiat’s original (1846) “Author’s Introduction” to Sophisms:
My view is that in the destruction of an error the truth is created.
DBx: This insight is especially important in the social sciences, where the complexity of the subject matter is so enormous that errors are difficult to dislodge (and especially so when errors promote some groups’ material interests). In economics, the chief problem today, as always, lies not in what economists have yet to scientifically discover and confirm. Rather, the chief problem is that most of the general public (too often, sad to say, with the encouragement of some economists) clings to ancient beliefs that careful investigation exposes as myths. “Increased abundance – especially when it comes from abroad – is impoverishing!” “Prices and wages are arbitrary impositions by businesses upon consumers and workers, and, therefore, government-enforced changes in these prices does nothing more than redistribute wealth from businesses to consumers and workers!” “Firms that grow large and profitable in free markets are dangerous monopolists!” “Democratic control of the economy produces an order that is superior to the order produced by a respect for private property, freedom of contract, and market competition!” Myths such as these, and too many others to count, prevail. The economist does his or her best service in exposing these beliefs as the myths that they are.