Friday, November 22, 2013


The world is full of people who do not understand economics. That’s not a sin or a crime. The world is full also of lots of people who do not understand ancient Greek texts, matrix algebra, the consequences of the Peace of Westphalia, and how to make authentic cajun gumbo. But as one of my brilliant colleagues, Bryan Caplan, points out with special clarity, most people who do not understand these latter things do not fancy that they understand these latter things. The typical person ignorant of any mathematics beyond basic arithmetic doesn’t go about in public pretending to be expert in matrix algebra.

Economics is different. People who have no exposure to the economic way of thinking typically think that they understand sufficiently the logic of markets to comment critically upon real-world market processes. As frustrating as this reality is – with its incessant outpouring of wrongheaded diagnoses and demands for this or that government intervention – it’s a reality that ain’t gonna go away.

Even more annoying than economically uninformed people making unfounded economic assertions are people who have a smidgen of exposure to economic jargon or economic models but inadequate knowledge and wisdom to apply that jargon and those models helpfully to reality. Steve Landsburg has found such a person.

There's another are where nobody admits being lousy: driving. Have you even heard anyone saying 'I can't drive'? But yeah, I digress.