… is from page 15 of Deirdre McCloskey’s 1987 monograph, Econometric History:
Economics is not a catechism to be mastered in an afternoon. It is a way of arguing, a difficult though not unreasonable way, and foreign to most politicians and journalists. The public therefore gets no tuition in it from watching public life.
DBx: Yes. The economic way of thinking does not, evidently, come naturally to most people. And this way of thinking is certainly very seldom on display by politicians, and only slightly more likely to be encountered among journalists.
And so I infer from this sad reality that the economic way of thinking is indeed, as Deirdre describes it, difficult.
But the difficulty of mastering the economic way of thinking is not the same sort of difficulty required to master even rather basic forms of mathematics such as calculus, to become fluent in a foreign language, or to become a fine clarinetist. The difficulty, instead, lies largely (I think) in the determination necessary to see through cant, romanticism about collectives, and the many illusions created by sloppy language (including the careless use of plural pronouns).