Yet More on Galambos

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Tim Swanson’s blog linked to Isaac Waisberg’s blogpost regarding the nonsensical nature of the owning-a-word mentality. Waisberg links to a Harry Browne Liberty article on Galambos. What a crankish nutball.Browne writes: “A few years later, I realized that the inability to conduct controlled, repeatable experiments made it impossible to transfer the methods of the physical sciences to the social sciences — including economics and investments. Still later, I came across Ludwig von Mises’ The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, in which he explains this point better than I could.”

This reinforces what I’ve come to think about Galambos: he adopts the monist, scientistic mentality which Mises showed to be flawed. He is like many engineers I’ve known: most are bright, but nowadays uneducated beyond calculus and applied engineering courses; yet they believe that, because they are the “best and brightest” they can solve social problems by some kind of brute force empirical-practical engineering type solution. The result is almost always embarrassing, totally devoid of any familiarity with philosphy or the relevant literature; it is just a step above the long-winded “I’ve-got-the-world-figured-out” diatribes by frustrated truck drivers who also think they have a system to win the lottery. Galambos was brighter and better read than most engineers, but he could not escape the pseudo-science of scientism into which engineers are immersed; he adopted the idea that we should find a “science” of liberty, with “science” used in the conventional, natural-sciences sense. Kind of a weird combination of California surfer-dude “hey-man” mentality combined with Carl Sagan wide-eyed love for (natrual)-science combined with the engineer’s misplaced confidence in his ability to solve all human problems using engineering techniques.

Galambos was wrong. He should have read Mises.

Galambos’s entire philosophy rests on the shaky grounds of scientism. To the extent I can understand what he really meant, that is. Because of his crankish views, he self-censored and doomed himself to dwindling cult status. Wow, man, like wow. Really impressive. Not.

I have to give Galambos his props, however: look at this great slogan he promulgated: “If you vote, don’t complain.” Now that’s brilliant!

Coda: Writes Tim Swanson): “So true. All of my roommates have been engineers as have most of my friends. Rather than reading any sort of economics text they simply come up with a “plan” utilizing some sort of top-down approach.”

12:02 am on May 24, 2004