Say It Loud, Say It Proud
By Bryan Caplan
If you were in marketing, would you take this advice?
1. To “raise the status of intelligence and analytical thinking,” don’t…
…stand for instrumental rationality, for Science, for attitudes which go
beyond traditional religion, for the conquering of limits, for
probabilistic reasoning, and for the notion that the subject sees
hidden possibilities and resources which more traditional observers do
Instead, give to mainstream charity.
2. If you value economics, keep it to yourself:
If you are the economically informed member of your family, or perhaps
even an economist, don’t flaunt it. Hide its universal nature or
widespread applicability. Do not present economic wisdom as a matter of
principle or a general way of thinking about life.
3. If you’re a libertarian, stop attacking the New Deal and jump on the scare-of-the-week bandwagon:
I would like to restructure classical liberalism, or libertarianism —
whatever we call it — around these new and very serious threats to
liberty. Let’s not fight the last battle or the last war. Let’s not
obsess over all the interventions represented by the New Deal, even
though I would agree that most of those policies were bad ideas.
The source of all three pieces of advice is my colleague Tyler Cowen. Notice the pattern? In each case, he urges people to whom he’s officially sympathetic to abandon their main arguments without argument, and try to curry favor by doing and saying “normal” things.
Frankly, I can’t imagine marketing experts recommending a Cowenian approach. Instead, they’d tell you the obvious: If you’ve got good ideas to sell, don’t be shy. Affably explain why you’re right and your critics are wrong. Say it loud and say it proud. Once you reach market saturation, you might want to mix up your marketing a bit. But until you’re a household name, clearly and boldly make your point. And remember – there’s no point in pandering to those who will never buy your product, anyway.