I read recently that 40% of Americans do not believe in Darwin’s theory of natural selection. What strikes me about this percentage is that I worry it is too low, if one considers how many Americans have a clue what the theory of natural selection is about, or how it relates to their daily lives.
In short, many people are oblivious to the question of whether they came from a little seed of god’s inspiration or were raised up from an ape. We can well afford to live out our lives oblivious to any forms of thinking, scientific or otherwise, that attempts to describe an accurate model of how life happens. Though, sadly, it is not quite the case with economic theory that people can choose to happily live out their lives in an illusion, or to simply ignore what is going on and to let other ‘intelligent’ people lead the way.
Short-sighted thinking, dysfunctional economic models, economics derived from divine cause (hidden hands with no strings attached) have very immediate and direct impacts on the issues of whether people are able to sustain themselves, find employment, and survive. Bad models, shortsighted and narrowly conceived models, very quickly have an impact when they drive the actions of politicians, the sound-bite blathering of news media pundits, the advice of think tanks, actions of financial institutions, and the heated up enthusiasm of speculators in bubbles. When we hear all of these stories what do we think? Go buy more duct tape?
What Akerlof and Shiller point out in this thin book is that the prevailing theories of economics, as both understood in academia and in politics, particularly in conservative politics, have been designed to eliminate factors of confidence, fairness, corruption, money illusion and stories.
I am not an economist; I am an independent capitalist, a small business owner that knows more about playing with the repair of stone walls, and making money at it than I know about economic theory. I am also a writer, and I enjoy stories. I have as much interest as anyone currently seeking work, wanting to pay the bills and pursue the American Dream, to understand how we got into the current economic mess.