Nice Letter About Me, Not So Nice About Bryan Caplan

From: M
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 10:11 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Caplan the Praxeologist
Dear Professor Block, Hello! Today I came across a blog post from Bryan Caplan which made me think of your attempts to engage him on methodology. Particularly it brought to mind the story of your dissertation and Gary Becker’s incredulity at your empirical findings. Caplan makes the same move in this post (http://www.econlib.org/archives/2018/03/priors_and_the.html) on illicit drug use. I recall that Caplan once replied to you re: Becker’s implicit praxeology along the lines that “well, there was a significant empirical literature on rent control and your findings contradicted it. Perhaps you, an unsophisticated graduate student, simply made a mistake and Becker’s years of reading on the subject gave him the good sense to tell you to try again.” But note that in the blog post above Caplan cites no literature at all. Instead he employs an axiomatic-deductive analysis to dismiss the data, and then papers it over by the use of the terms “common sense” and “good judgement” before moving on to “there must be other variables at play!” I think it’s a good one to file away in the event you debate him again. Also, and finally, thank you for your contributions to our science! I often use your arguments in the classroom, not just because I agree with them, but because they have the wonderful capacity to get the attention of students and force them to think. Sincerely, M

On Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 10:53 PM, Walter Block

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7:12 pm on December 4, 2018