Against “common sense”

Love this Ezra post attacking the “common sense” ideas of Libertarian Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson.  Going my the standards of most mainstream economists, Johnson’s ideas would be absolutely disastrous for the economy.  Since I just finished reading a book on quantum physics– nature is a mad, mad, mad scientist (could someone please explain how in the world quantum entanglement exists)– I especially liked this bit:

When politicians begin telling me that their policies are just “common sense,” I begin getting nervous. A “common-sense” approach to how the world works would rule out quantum physics. A “common-sense” approach to how medicine works would rule out chemotherapy. A “common-sense” approach to transportation would rule out getting on a heavy metal tube that some lady in a blue uniform assures you can fly.

No one ever promised that the way the world works would accord with our intuitions. And the same goes for economic policy. Almost all of the worst economic ideas out there are sold on the basis that they’re just “common sense.” Some of them, in fact, are just common sense. That’s what makes them so dangerous. Life would be a lot easier if bad ideas never appealed to anybody, but that’s not how it works.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Against “common sense”

  1. itchy says:

    “could someone please explain how in the world quantum entanglement exists”

    No. How it works, yes, why it exists, no. Amazingly cool stuff, though.

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