2014-01-14

Regrets, I Have A Few

One of the reasons I like to read Jonathan Finegold Catalan's blog is because he approaches economics with an admirable level of humility. This gives at least the appearance of better objectivity, in that he never seems so romanced by his own perspective that he is unable to find problems with his own thinking; he's never so sold on his own perspective that he can't acknowledge his mistakes. If this isn't absolutely true of Finegold Catalan - and I don't know him personally, so I cannot really say - it is at least the impression one gets from reading his blog, and it is to his credit.

In a recent post, for example, he explored his line of thinking from the days when he was more of a Rothbardian-ish anarcho-capitalist, compared to what he believes now. He has done this many times over the life of his blog. He's forthcoming with his mistakes. It's a good thing.

Over time, I believe I have placed myself in a similar situation, albeit a worse one. I have peppered the internet with all kinds of ridiculousness, much of which I regret. I don't lose sleep over it - I mean, after all, it is "just" the internet - but I do occasionally stumble upon an old comment of mine while searching a favorite blog out there. Some of those comments are winners, while others are terribly embarrassing. On more than a few occasions, I've read through the comments sections of old blogs and happened upon a particular stinker in the comments section, thinking to myself, "Good lord, who is this joker?" Imagine my dismay when the joker and the reader turn out to be one and the same.

That's not to say that I've done a great deal of flip-flopping. I think most of what I've written at Stationary Waves and elsewhere has been consistent. But I haven't always phrased things the way I'd like; I haven't always been as respectful as I would prefer to be; I haven't always been as humble as I ought; I have frequently put too much stock in my own opinion.

What shook me straight - or, at least, straighter - was having the opportunity to interact more regularly with people whose knowledge and intelligence greatly exceed my own. When required to justify my positions with a greater level of rigor and honesty, and a lesser level of braggadocio, I quickly discovered a need for greater humility and respect. And, like anyone else, I still don't always deliver that to the extent I would like to, but at least I recognize the faults.

I hope, and perhaps naively believe, that this has translated into higher quality blog posts, argumentative reasoning, and comments out there. I can't say for sure, because I'm in no position to judge. But that's where my efforts lie, at least.