Rothbard on Economic Ignorance

“I think the reason these lines prove so popular is because they neatly summarize a problem that’s unique to economics. That is, economics is the most-discussed, but least-studied field of human inquiry. In fact, people often build their opinions about economic ideas and policies on a knowledge base so small it would seem bizarre in any other discipline.

Other things equal, when friends meet for a drink, or families sit down to dinner, it’s unlikely they’ll discuss physics, chemistry, geology, or phenomenology. The reason is simple: many people know little about these subjects, and have little interest in exploring them. Most importantly though, we’re all generally happy to admit it if we lack such specialized knowledge, as it doesn’t usually play a vital role in our lives (again, assuming we’re not specialists).

But economics is different. Almost everyone discusses and debates economic problems, or public policies that carry profound economic implications. Because it’s grounded in human action and choice, economics is universally relatable, and therefore each individual tends to feel as if he has some relevant personal experience and knowledge through which to interpret economic events.

Unfortunately, this intuition is very often mistaken; hence, Rothbard’s irritation.”


3 Kinds of Economic Ignorance


The Broken Window–A Concept That MUST Be Understood To Avoid Economic Ignorance!


A conscientious moralist or churchman would not consider meddling in controversies concerning technological or therapeutical methods without having sufficiently familiarized himself with all the physical, chemical and physiological problems involved. Yet many of them think that ignorance of economics is no bar to handling economic issues. . .Mises


The disaster of and brainwashing from economic ignorance [and not the Keynesian mathematics that treats people as cattle] about human action [Austrian economics]


It is no crime to be ignorant of economics; but totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while in this state of ignorance—Rothbard


“The phenomenon of economic ignorance is so widespread, and its consequences so frightening, that the objective of reducing that ignorance becomes a goal invested with independent moral worth…”—Kirzner


What is wrong with our age is precisely the widespread ignorance of the role which…economic freedom played–Mises


A Loud Opinion On Economics While Remaining in A State of Ignorance–Murray N. Rothbard


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