#275: It’s Time To Become a Skeptic


Way back in 1933 George Bernard Shaw said that “If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” But apparently he was not the first person to use that expression. At least, according to people who research these types of quotes. The funny thing is that these people don’t seem able to agree on who said what when.

Another funny thing is that by the time I graduated as an economist, I was convinced that George Bernard Shaw had not used the word conclusion, but the word agreement. (“If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach agreement.”) I had been exposed to conclusions aplenty. But agreements? Few.

Which is why I find myself in an economy that is in a mild recession as it continues to grow. (Maybe you don’t agree, because you’ve reached a different conclusion.)


It’s Time To Become a Skeptic Again

Once again we hear lots of conflicting reports about the state of the economy. It’s getting better. No, it’s getting worse. Better! Worse! Did! Didn’t! Did too!

Oh, for Pete’s sake! If you’ve had enough already, like me, then become a skeptic. It’s good for you and it’s good for your business.

By skeptic I don’t mean someone who automatically rejects new ideas. And I don’t mean cynicism either. What I mean is a return to the original meaning of skepticism. Question all ideas. Use the scientific method to evaluate reports and statements. Ask for compelling evidence. Don’t accept hearsay. Don’t automatically trust experts.

Keep in mind that in an ever changing world facts are never final. They are open to challenge and subject to change. Be wise and treat all facts as provisional conclusions.

Remember, don’t take up skepticism as a position. It is a method. Use it.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.