28 Sep 2009

A Quick Note From Baltimore

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I’m in a hotel in Baltimore right now, getting ready to deliver a lecture to Tom DiLorenzo’s “Capitalism and Its Critics” class, as well as a public lecture on the New Deal. So I won’t be blogging much, if at all, until Wednesday.

In the meantime, look at this blog post from Brad DeLong regarding Edward Prescott’s explanation of the financial panic (HT2MR): “He [Prescott] simply does not live in the consensus reality with the rest of us.”

Is anybody else weirded-out by the term “consensus reality”? Have you ever heard of a more Orwellian phrase? Not reality mind you, but consensus reality. Prescott’s sin is not being wrong per se, but rather that he disagrees “with the rest of us.”

“What are you talking about, Bob?” you protest. “DeLong is just trying to be cute; he means Prescott is nuts and objectively wrong.”

OK then why didn’t DeLong say that? Now this “consensus” criterion has spread from climate change to economics?

I am not being flip. DeLong’s use of the term “consensus reality” disturbs me far more than his endorsement of a Keynesian model. At least if he agrees that things are objectively right or wrong–and uses language accordingly–we can at least debate the merits of a Keynesian model.

But we have no hope of changing anyone’s mind, if we fall into the dreaded minority viewpoint, in a world dominated by “consensus reality.”

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