17 Oct 2012

It’s On: Murphy-Sumner Debate Begins in January 2013

Economics, Federal Reserve, Scott Sumner, Shameless Self-Promotion 21 Comments

Holy cow, I totally forgot to announce the news: I proposed to Scott Sumner that instead of a live video debate, instead we have a 3-part exchange. Each month, I will write a 2000 – 2500 word blog post challenging his views on NGDP targeting, to which he will respond with whatever length he desires. Presumably his commenters and you guys will be chiming in on our respective posts, so that by Round 2 my 2000 – 2500 word post will gain from everybody’s input.

Scott agreed, but said he couldn’t start until January. (Oh, as an added sweetener, I got Major Freedom to agree that he wouldn’t post on Scott’s blog for the entire three months of the debate. I’m not even kidding.)

I must admit I’m a bit nervous, but someone has to stand up to this guy before he takes over.

21 Responses to “It’s On: Murphy-Sumner Debate Begins in January 2013”

  1. Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

    About the MF thing, is each “camp” supposed to respond only to the posts of their respective economists (i.e. Austrians post here, Market Monetarists post there), or was that just part of the deal to sway Sumner to have a debate?

  2. d says:

    We need a tshirt to commemorate this.

  3. Sealander says:


  4. Gene Callahan says:

    Bob, absolutely anything you have done that sees fewer posts from MF on the Internet represents a tremendous positive externality, and we should all be praising you to the high heavens for your altruism!

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Ah but Gene, MF told me he would simply transfer his comments to your blog.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        No worries, I prefer not to have my PC get infected with the idiot virus that seems to be emanating from Callahan’s blog.

      • Ken B says:

        Even better. I don’t read that blog.

        • Richie says:

          Exactly. I stay away from that creepy garbage site.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Altruism? He did it for self-interested reasons, Herr Callahan.

      Not that you even understand the philosophy to which you refer, but if altruism really was the ideal morality to you, then you would voluntarily cease posting yourself to the oxygen you’re breathing and the space you’re taking up.

      The fact that you’re around writing what most people think is a joke, shows that you aren’t living in accordance with the ethical standard you’re preaching is the ideal.

    • Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

      No idea who reads the comments, or whether people here are being serious or just poking fun at each other, but for the unaware passerby: Callahan’s blog is worth reading.

      • Bharat says:

        Completely agree. I’ve been reading his blog for a few months now and have learned a lot.

  5. Richard Williamson says:

    I am very very excited about this.

  6. JSR08 says:

    Bob, did Sumner actually say he would be willing to keep an open mind to your arguments, or just that he would be willing to read what you have to say and respond?

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    I’ve always found Major Freedom’s comments to be well founded, thorough and respectful. I submit that the universal response to MF from the statists which is generally name-calling or, from Mr. Sumner, a purposeful and meticulous tuning out, indicates that they have no substantive response to his analysis. I realize that this is breaking news and unlike anything I’ve ever written before.

    • david stinson says:

      Initially, I was a bit dismissive of MF’s comments, and in particular his relentless style and occupation of vast tracts of blog comment real estate.

      Even though I don’t read all or even a small proportion of his comments (would that even be humanly possible?) and I don’t agree with much of what he says (although, given his output, how would I know?), I have to say that my attitude has changed. He provides no shortage of justification and analysis, obviously, unlike many. He seems to address every argument raised, again unlike many. He has a magnificent, inexhaustible and, as far as I am aware, principled enthusiasm. And, interestingly, when his comments are a little shorter, and I read some of them, I often find either that a) I get something out of them, b) I might sort of agree with part of it, c) I don’t agree with it but it prompts me to think about why in new ways, or d) his writing/commenting/thinking is becoming noticeably crisper.

      On top of it all, his “all MF/ all the time” commenting on Scott Sumner’s blog has provided Bob with a sweetener for their debate.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        While I accept the praise gentlemen, I must implore you that I cannot feel contented by it, but not because of anything personal, but because I feel contented when better ideas win out over worse ideas in terms of adoption.

        I feel the best when I see the public discourse change for the better. If I had to choose between personal praise in a time of philosophical degradation, or personal attacks in a time of philosophical enlightenment, I would pick the latter in a heartbeat.

        I am used to being attacked, ridiculed, smeared, ignored, hated, loathed, and mocked. I actually enjoy it more that way, in this age, because I know that in this age, the only way my ideas will get accepted by others is by something other than seeking to fit in, or popularity contests, or something other than individual reason. I don’t want my ideas to be accepted because people like me and they want to be associated with likeable people, and will adopt my ideas to fit that agenda. I want my ideas to be accepted by individual reason, despite them being unpopular.

        That is why I appear to have no problems encouraging those types of responses. It is a sort of test to me to see who is serious, and who just wants to be told they are doing a good job because of some low self-esteem issues.

        In another thread, DK bit Murphy’s head off for daring to say something positive about my posts. To me that shows DK is not as serious about ideas as he is about appearances and what others may think of him.

        Being a true intellectual is a thankless job, because a true intellectual harnesses his own mind, and thanks typically comes from harnessing other people’s minds. After all, who thanks the intellectual hermit for enlightening himself? Most would ask “How did he help me?” before they thank him.

        For me, I give thanks to you when you improve your own minds, with or without my help.

        Too often people go into academia the same way people go to Hollywood looking to be the next Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep.

        The market test for intellectuals has been seriously undermined by statesmen financing intellectuals for their own benefit, which prevents individuals from bankrupting bad intellectuals by choice. Unfortunately, the majority of intellectuals believe they are in the right when they become popular, and in their minds the only reason they receive criticism is because of something akin to their own worldview: jealousy, state usurpation, popularity, prejudice and bias.

        I agreed to stop posting on Sumner’s blog because I want some key ideas to be publicly engaged vis a vis market monetarism that are not currently being publicly engaged. If my absence will encourage this, then it is to my own interests to shut up for awhile.

    • Richard Moss says:

      …from Mr. Sumner, a purposeful and meticulous tuning out, indicates that they have no substantive response to his analysis.

      Right. By the way, who is this Bob Murphy guy that Sumner has agreed to a blog debate with?

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Someone whose name is not Major_Freedom.

  8. Yancey Ward says:

    Shouldn’t you have photoshopped a shuttle craft in place of the Enterprise? Or perhaps a guy in a space suit?

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