Bryan Caplan Explains the Liberal Attitude Towards Religion

I was at the NYU market process colloquium one day when Caplan was presenting. I challenged his notion of rationality, saying that his own view lacked the resources to say why worrying about material well being is rational, while following Biblical injunctions on behavior is irrational. (Something he nevertheless held to be true.)

Caplan's response was along the lines of, "Oh, so we're supposed to be following the dictates of a bunch of desert shepherds from 3000 years ago?" (I quote from memory, but I certainly do not have the essence of Caplan's response wrong.)

The first thing I will point out is that Israel Kirzner, who is an orthodox rabbi (and many times the economist that Caplan is), was sitting next to me in that room. So Caplan was quite deliberately mocking Kirzner's life choices, and in a forum in which he knew Kirzner could not respond. (Kirzner is, of course, too self-possessed and too much of a gentleman to even show a response to Caplan's infantile behavior. Me, on the other hand...)

The second is to note just how stupid Caplan's response is. Imagine he had used the Pythagorean theorem to prove something in his paper, and I had complained, "Oh, so we're supposed to be following the mathematical reasoning of some tunic-wearing Greek cult leader from 2500 years ago?"

Of course, mockery is all that people like Caplan and his fellow GMU ignoramus Tyler Cowen have in their arsenal: if they were actually to engage on these topics with a thinker like, say, Alasdair MacIntyre, they would be completely crushed. So, mockery it is!

9 comments:

  1. and Caplan would have responded with a proof showing that the tunic-wearing Greek cult leader from 2500 years ago was right...

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    1. Which shows how stupid Caplan's response to me was.

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    2. Because in the Greek case Caplan actually would EXAMINE THE IDEA, instead of dismissing it based on a derogatory description of the people who had the idea.

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  3. The comment you used to challenge was perfectly legitimate, so I am baffled by his response.

    Yes, you say mocking people is the only response he had, but the audience was probably packed with some very erudite people who could easily call him out on such a tactic.

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    1. But no one wanted to derail the discussion into the sidetrack.

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  4. I certainly understand your attitude toward Caplan in that instance, but Tyler Cowen...an ignoramus? Really? I've seen some of your posts about Tyler, and while I can see that you disagree with him, he's very clearly NOT an ignoramus, and it makes you sound silly to write it.

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    1. Did you read the post I linked to? He calls the idea of the Trinity "less plausible" than that the pyramids were grain storage centers. Do you think he has any idea of the metaphysical implications of the idea that I have been posting here? No, he is just insulting others' beliefs on a topic on which he knows nothing. What would you call that?

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    2. I read his post regarding the pyramids, and my understanding of the post was that he wasn't insulting anyone, in fact he was defending others from insult (linked above in the OP: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/11/bully-for-ben-carson.html)

      I think that Tyler occasionally likes to 'try on' intellectual ideas, ideas that he may not have thought through 100%. Maybe that's irresponsible, I don't know. I have been reading MR for a long time and have never found Tyler to be somebody who insults other people.

      Lastly, I'm not sure what you mean by the "idea of the metaphysical implications of the idea that I have been posting here" so I cannot comment on that directly.

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