The Difficulty in Countering Economic Creationism... exactly the same as the difficulty in countering biological creationism. You are attempting to explain a concept to a hostile audience who doesn't want to understand the concept in the first place, for ideological reasons.

Muirgeo writes, in a comment thread to Will Wilkinson's post on liberaltarianism:

We are successful animals because we think and organize. The idea that a market, an economy or a society is better left to its own then planned and regulated by intelligent beings is sheer hoccum with not an ounce of factual support.

To which the very patient Renato Drumond responds,

Maybe the reading of this Hayek seminal paper will help you to rethink your statement:

I suggest the artticles with good faith, because this space isn’t appropriate to develop good answers to your questions. I hope you read them.

Honestly, anyone who reads and truly understands the crucial points Hayek makes in that essay could not possibly make the claim that Muirgeo just made, to which Renato was responding. That’s why it’s so frustrating explaining markets to economic creationists; it’s exactly like trying to explain Darwinism to committed and unread biological creationists. The spontaneous order of emergent systems is a central insight that some people simply refuse to understand, even after it is explained to them repeatedly, because the do not want to understand.

For some, the disastrous empirical results of Five-Year Plans is enough to make them understand, but others fail to make even the most obvious empirical connections between central planning and human disaster. To them, one can but incredulously stare.

Update: After skimming through The Use of Knowledge in Society, Muirgeo has this to say:

I’m pretty sure self-order in the markets is often a good idea but I can think of lots of times when it’s failed and when planning worked better. … And even here some one had to plan where to build those huts and who would wear red and who black.

Muirgeo clearly does not yet understand the point Hayek is making in the article. Hayek is not claiming that all intentional human planning is impossible; obviously, that is not true. Centrally-directed human planning exists and is often very successful on the individual, family, small village, and firm level. But planning is not and cannot be successful on a large scale, on the scale of national economics that we are concerned with here.

And again, I always resort to my claim that no unplanned society has ever existed…

And as Matt Simpson pointed out, there is no sense in which any Western (i.e. non-Communist) society is planned, in the Hayekian sense. That doesn’t mean that planning does not exist within Western societies on the individual, family, small village, and firm level. It just means that planning does not exist on a society, economy-wide national level.

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Markets economies are planned

It's worth noting that planning is not something that socialism has and market economies lack. Markets are a tool for planning--a tool which experience has shown produces much better plans than the top-down planning of socialism.


"And again, I always resort to my claim that no unplanned society has ever existed…"

No, it's quite the opposite: No planned society has ever existed, in the sense of one proceeding according to the planners' plans. The USSR, for example, worked nothing liked the plans for the USSR said it should -- see, e.g., Pete Boettke's work on the Soviet Union.

The arguments made by Hayek

The arguments made by Hayek are very powerful, and I hoped they could help muirgeo to better understand the problem with the planning idea, IF he wants to.

I think he(muirgeo) misuses the word 'planning' to equate it with rational criticism of social norms. Which is another central theme of Hayek's works: combat the idea that we should accept only conscious created social norms.

And I completely agree with Gene Callhan's post. The social norms existed much time BEFORE human beings thought they could consciously alter them. Even when we began to alter social norms, we have effects that were independent of reformer's will.