Our Culture Welcomes You
By Bryan Caplan
In hindsight, my recent post on GMU econ blogger culture has one glaring omission. Namely: We are extremely inclusive. Converts are welcome – the more the merrier. But that’s only the beginning. We also cherish our fellow travelers, sympathizers, well-wishers, and tourists. We don’t look for reasons to be angry or reject others. Instead, we search for the intellectual good in everyone. Our views are too unpopular to get upset at people for disagreeing with us, so we build cohesion by not asking for it. As Muawiya puts it, “If there is even one thread binding me to my fellow man, I do not let it break. If he pulls, I loosen. If he loosens, I pull.”
Yes, welcoming outcasts creates an adverse selection problem, but we gladly live with that problem. If your intellectual tribe turns on you, don’t mope. Stroll over to our lunch table. Don’t worry that you’ve somehow offended us or burned bridges. Our bridges are fire-proof – and in our culture, a friendly, informative conversation beats any apology. Saying, “Let’s pretend our past quarrels never happened” is good, but actually pretending the quarrels never happened is even better. Indeed, given the spotlight effect, there’s a good chance that no one else remembers the quarrels that continue to weigh upon you.
Does this whole perspective wrongly assume moral equivalence or moral agnosticism? No, but it does assume that mainstream culture is too quick to anger. Wrath doesn’t merely lead us to treat others unjustly. It also leads us to error by cutting us off from unwelcome information and arguments.
Last point: Most invitations eventually expire. This invitation is open-ended unto ages of ages. Feel free to stay with mainstream culture as long as you like. If and when you tire of it, GMU econ blogger culture will take you in.