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Is economic consensus a good thing?

Summary:
Is economic consensus a good thing? No, it is not — and here’s one strong reason why: The mere existence of consensus is not a useful guide. We should ask; Does a consensus have its origins and its ground in a rational and comprehensive appraisal of substantial evidence? Has the available evidence been open to vigorous challenge, and has it met each challenge? … A consensus that lacks these origins is of little consequence precisely because it lacks these origins. Knowing the current consensus is helpful in forecasting a vote; having substantial evidence​ is helpful in judging what​ is true. That something is standardly believed or assumed is not, by itself, a reason to believe or assume it. Error and confusion are standard conditions of the human mind.

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Is economic consensus a good thing?

No, it is not — and here’s one strong reason why:

Is economic consensus a good thing?The mere existence of consensus is not a useful guide. We should ask; Does a consensus have its origins and its ground in a rational and comprehensive appraisal of substantial evidence? Has the available evidence been open to vigorous challenge, and has it met each challenge? … A consensus that lacks these origins is of little consequence precisely because it lacks these origins. Knowing the current consensus is helpful in forecasting a vote; having substantial evidence​ is helpful in judging what​ is true. That something is standardly believed or assumed is not, by itself, a reason to believe or assume it. Error and confusion are standard conditions of the human mind.

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Lars Pålsson Syll
Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

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