The Economic Clockmaker Argument

Okay, I know harping on this same point must be getting a little tiring for some of you, but economic creationists just keep setting themselves up again and again for the same sort of critique. It's worth reiterating as much as possible what is wrong with economic creationism and what it shares with biological creationism.

Muirgeo writes,

I’ve been on the side of trying to convince creationist of Darwin’s theory but did natures emergent order give us our great crop yields or did planning, logic, research and an understanding of and manipulation of evolution do the trick?

Yet again, Muirgeo demonstrate his failure to understood the main point Hayek is making in that essay. Muirgeo is essentially making the watchmaker argument, except in this case for economics instead of biology. Just as the biological creationist observes that watches don't occur in nature and must be designed, so therefore the parts of nature which seem even more complex than a watch must be designed, so too Muirgeo observes human technologies such as farming techniques and concludes that since these techniques are designed, the price system, which is many orders of magnitude more complex, must be subject to the intentional dictates of centralized command-and-control.

Crop yields and the American economy are not the result and would not be as successful as they are were it not for planning. Left to nature and emergent properties we’d still be living in tribal units like the native American’s our good planning displaced.

Again, this is essentially the same as when a biological creationist says something like, "If left to nature and emergent properties, watches would not exist." Well, yes, but that clearly misses the point of biological evolution, just as Muirgeo has clearly missed Hayek's point about the information signals embedded in the price system.

And he will continue to make this same mistake, over and over again, because he does not want to understand the importance of the price system and the impossibility of central planning on a large scale. Until a creationist is willing to accept that his worldview might be wrong and that God/a central planner need not exist (at least to the extent creationists believe is necessary), no amount of explanation of emergent phenomenon will be sufficient. It amounts to an ideological unwillingness to understand.

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In my experience, using

In my experience, using natural examples of stigmergy helps a lot conveying an understanding of the stigmergy present in human society through price systems. Take the flock of bird or school of fishes moving as one to avoid predators even though almost all the individual fishes and birds have no awareness of the predator's presence, speed and position, or the way termites build complex structures simply by embedding and following chemical markers in mud pellets without being individually capable of such architectural planning.

The difference being that

The difference being that evolution is bared out by the evidence and not just a philosophical argument with a statistical model on top of it.