Four important ideas from Russ Roberts

These are from Russ Roberts:

Over the last six years or so, since coming to George Mason and in the last three years since conducting a weekly podcast, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the following ideas:

1. Some orderly things are not intended by anyone.

2. The division of labor is limited by the extent of the market.

3. It is easy to fall prey to confirmation bias.

4. Politicians respond to incentives.

These are pretty simple ideas. When you give people the one sentence version or paragraph version they nod and tell you they agree with the essence of the idea. But I find these ideas to be quite deep. They are easy to understand but very difficult to absorb. The more I think about them, the deeper is my understanding.


Am I the only one who thinks that Tyler's incessant hyping of George Mason is getting a bit old? Bryan Caplan this, Robin Hanson that, Arnold Kling something else. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure these gentlemen are fine thinkers in their own right, but they are not, by any objective standard, worthy of the constant barrage of praise (implicit and explicit) that Tyler directs their way.

Sure, it's perfectly rational to boost your colleagues (and by extension, your institution, and by extension, yourself). I see this all the time at top econ departments. But there comes a point when this kind of signaling becomes counterproductive. With every George Mason post Tyler makes, I'm afraid he lowers my opinion of his credibility as a judge of the quality of ideas.

apostate. I'm confident that if Russ Roberts were to leave to say, the University of Chicago, the George Mason guys would continue comment on his ideas.

It's not that they are trying to hype each other. It's just that there aren't enough hours in the day to consume and comment on the ideas of every single other economist. Each one of them has chosen maybe 15-30 economists that they follow through the blogosphere. (Just as you probably have). It's logical that they choose the blogs of people they know in the flesh because they can have discusions both on and offline. The offline ones are often richer.

>I'm confident that if Russ Roberts were to leave to say, the University of Chicago


For the record, unless things have changed recently, Arnold Kling is not at GMU.

Am I the only one who thinks that Tyler's incessant hyping of George Mason is getting a bit old?

Are there other "schools of thought" that are seeking to explain their school of thought that Tyler is purposely ignoring?

Sort of reminds me of Arlo's refrain in Alice's Restaurant, "if one person sings it, they'll think he's crazy, if two they'll think they're queer, but if three people sing it, they'll think its a movement." GMU has for whatever reason, design, chance, whatever, ended up reaching that magic three to make it see that GMU is a movement.

Robert at 1:38,

I'm sorry if I came across as a troll; that was certainly not my intention. Instead, I was asking a genuine question: I wanted to know if others shared my reaction to Tyler's GMU posts, or if I was being overly sensitive. I would have hoped that this would be obvious from the way I phrased my post ("Am I the only one who thinks... etc etc"), but evidently not.

It appears that you don't respond the same way as me, and that's fine; it also appears that at least one other commenter (Bernard at 12:56) sympathizes with my point, and that's also fine. To each his own; that's the glory of the interwebs.

"I see this all the time at top econ departments"

The answer to your question apostate is that I don't know. But I was introduced to a broad meaning of the tragedy of the commons at a young age. We were at Boy Scout camp and our leaders were urging us to block vote. I thought "that's not right" and then I thought "well, what is the alternative?" The alternative was to lose.

Oh, if only flying puffins were at GMU, there would I be also.

"Who would have thought the end of the monarchy would have led to that?"

Oswald Spengler, for one.

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