There are too many false prophets in our profession—the kind who like to assert policy opinions in black-and-white terms, such as ‘there is only one right way’ and ‘no other way will do’. This is what I like to call ‘economic fundamentalism’. And I believe it is wrong on all counts.
For one thing, economics does not lend itself to doctrinaire policy assertions. The technical complexities are too great, the behavioural reaction of human beings too changeable and unpredictable, and the market subject to many imperfections. … [Many economic] questions do not lend themselves to definitive answers. The honest economist can make an ‘on balance’ judgment, but should also acknowledge the uncertainties and the merits of alternative positions.
Smith and Friedman are not quite Jesus and Muhammed, but blind fundamentalism is always bad, whether it be religious or not.
I’ve started reading my review copy of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris, and you can consider that point a preview of my basic reaction to the book. But I’m only a chapter in so far.