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« "Start Spreading the News" --- Jeremy Horpedahl is New York Bound (Upstate Version) | Main | The Invisible Hook has Arrived »

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I loved it!

Yeah, I listened to the second half online and he was terrific.

I thought Dr. Higgs did a great job. He handled the callers well considering how they apparently weren't listening. Basically, caller after caller asked the same question, "What would we do without government to care for us?" He even managed to inject a little humor through Mencken. Must feel sometimes like you're beating your head against a wall though. The education continues . . .

In responding to an inequality "what would you do?" question, I think he should have talked about occ lic and other interventions that remove lower rungs of the economic ladder and raise prices. The state against the poor.

Agreed Dan. I would have also said a few things about income mobility.

More evidence that Bob Higgs is the foremost economist of our time - of any school.

I agree that one major omission was income mobility, but overall this was brilliant. Thanks for the link. I am certainly inspired to read his work, and he really did a wonderful job explaining things in plain language for the viewers.

That was one fantastic interview. Bob Higgs brings an intensity and passion in the presentation of his ideas that is rare among scholarly thinkers. The general public does not know or care what is published in the peer-reviewed literature (sorry professors). They are influenced however by self-evident truth claims which are presented persuasively. Articulate yet provocative (in a good way) spokesmen such as Higgs are vital to motivating a citizenry to demand a return to liberty. Even libertarians need charismatic public figures! Unlike physics,the battle for ideas in economics and specifically political economy is played out on the broad public stage (not just in the literature), and if the ideas are to be advanced, the ball must be carried across the goal line by gifted public spokesmen. If the education of the general public fails, there will eventually be no free market economics program in the academy, as the government will simply arrest or fire the dissenting educators, and no-one will be left to care. Bravo Robert Higgs!

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K Sralla,

I would have to respectfully disagree because I think the arrow of causation is the opposite of what you write. We have to win the scientific/academic game first, and then win the popular/policy game with the force of argument. Otherwise, we will be reduced to promoting poor ideas and winning only rhetorical debates, not the hearts and MINDS of the people.

Hayek wrote about the process of social change in his "The Intellectuals and Socialism" and I think he hit the nail on the head. Rothbard actually wrote about the movement on several occassions which stressed the need to win the battle of ideas. Where is that battle waged?

My respect for Bob Higgs, both as a scholar and as a public intellectual, is second to nobody. But Bob's ability as a public spokesman is possible only because he did such outstanding scholarly work in the field of economic history.

We should all follow his lead.

Pete

Higgs handled the abrasive caller wonderfully. Very exciting! Of course that is easier to do with a coherent philosophy.

It's an interesting fact that most of the most significant people who know and discuss the work of Hayek -- both inside and outside of academia -- learned much of their Hayek outside the classroom.

Let's hope that is beginning to change.

Pete wrote:

"I would have to respectfully disagree because I think the arrow of causation is the opposite of what you write. We have to win the scientific/academic game first, and then win the popular/policy game with the force of argument. Otherwise, we will be reduced to promoting poor ideas and winning only rhetorical debates, not the hearts and MINDS of the people."

The quality of the callers is so-so. I admire Higgs for his clarity of thought and communication as well as his patience.

Folks,

I actually think the quality of callers was much below what I thought would be on a C-Span "In Depth" program. I think Bob did as well as could be expected given the quality of callers.

Pete

You guys are naive if you don't understand that the left organizes these things.

>Folks,

I actually think the quality of callers was much below what I thought would be on a C-Span "In Depth" program. I think Bob did as well as could be expected given the quality of callers.

Pete<<

I can't believe he didn't laugh at the "Have you no shame?" caller. And not only that, but he calmly answered his questions. I don't know if I would have remained so composed.

I am simply in awe of how well-read he is, his knowledge of history, and his understanding of economics.

Btw, how many were shocked to discover that C. Wright Mills has greatly influenced him?

I agree with Pete. Sound scholarship is the most important thing. Policy work at think tanks comes after building a solid base of theory and history in academic publications.

The job of the policy people is to simplify the ideas that libertarian academics came up with, and sell it to the people. The job of the politicians like Ron Paul is to simplify it even further. But it all starts in academia.

I certainly agree that sound scholarship and continuing research is vital. Seldom does a researcher ever arrive at a place where final victory is claimed however. Newton thought he had achieved victory, then comes Einstein, then comes quantum mechanics. Even in fields like theology, this process holds. Calvinists thought they had won at Dordrecht, then comes John Wesley. Whitefield and Edwards give way to Finney. The battle is never completely won. The scientist is always tinkering with his theory and making improvements. Sometimes this leads to a major breakthrough, but most often, it leads to refinement and better (or sometimes worse) application of the original theory.

In the physical sciences, mathematics and laboratory experimentation are the main tools used to test ideas and determine how well a theoretical model approximates reality. In the social sciences, it seems to me that much of the experimentation (other than thought experiments) is conducted in the laboratory of public policy. That is exactly what the current political regime is trying. They continue to re-run an econometrics experiment on the public *despite* a significant body of scholarly evidence (historical lookbacks) that indicate that the experiment will fail to yield the results they have promised their benefactors (the public). "Scholars" with a vested stake in seeing the current experiment being run to finality (ie Krugman and DeLong) do not seem to have such reservations about cheerleading.

If I were writing an application for a grant to fund a physics experiment, I would need to convince the grantor that funding my experiment will likely reap rewards, even though many of my physicist peers might disagree with my hypothesis. In the case of economics, if scholars want to move the Austrian hypothesis beyond the thought experiment stage and into the real laboratory, non-scholarly individuals, one by one, must become convinced to support political actors who will begin dismantling the nanny state. It is the willing public who must submit to the experiment of the scientist. Therefore, the scholar must function in some respects like a political actor, appealing to the human propensity for linear and rational thought by convincing the public that central planning is doomed to fail on the grounds of non-linear mathematics. Otherwise we must all resign ourselves keep re-reading Mises for another 80 years (sorry scholars, that is a bit rhetorical and does not do justice to your fine research programs).

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