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Reality Only SEEMS to be Easier to Understand If It’s Interpreted as a Battle Between the Forces of Good and the Forces of Evil

Here’s a letter to my former student Will Colson:

Your question is good: “Why do people get so mad at us economists when we indicate that high prices are not caused by businessmen’s greed [but] by consumers’ self interest in buying goods which become suddenly a lot more scarce?”  The best that I can offer as an answer is this quotation from Hayek’s 1933 lecture “The Trend of Economic Thinking”:

The attack on economics sprang rather from a dislike of the application of scientific methods to the investigation of social problems.  The existence of a body of reasoning which prevented people from following their first impulsive reactions, and which compelled them to balance indirect effects, which could be seen only by exercising the intellect, against intense feeling caused by the direct observation of concrete suffering, then as now, occasioned intense resentment.”*

The fact is that emoting is easier and more fun than is thinking seriously.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

* From page 21 of F.A. Hayek’s The Trend of Economic Thinking (Vol. 3 of Hayek’s Collected Works [1991]).