Bryan Caplan: I often disagree with people who know more about a given topic than I do. … I reason, if I did immerse myself in the modern literature, it’s a lot more likely that I would arrive at a sophisticated version of
Rather, I think the question suggests the expert evaluate how attached to his bias he is. Rationalization is highly powerful under a guiding ideology. Reasoning is subject to multiple levels of indirection. Is it true? Is it important? How does one deal with uncertainty? What does one value most? Economists are experts at self-justification.
His method is interesting. He's essentially asking experts if the disagreement he as a non-expert has with them exists between experts in their field. This is a good heuristic, I think, and will often get to the meat of a disagreement while avoiding a lot of argument. I think by saying "my prior is special" he's merely embracing the inevitability of this bias and using it toward his methodological end, rather than claiming some special reason for his prior to be special.
I think this is probably much more an issue of failing to update properly than different priors.
I think this discussion is a little muddled by the fact that Bryan does know something the other person is not likely to know Public Choice reasoning. Bryan might not be convinced if he learned about other subjects, but other people might be convinced if htey learned about his subject.If Bryan maintains that if both people learned the union of their relevant knowledge, that both he and the other person would still disagree rationally, then he's being pretty silly.
Odd from the author of a (rather good) book that encourages people to listen to people who know more about economics than they do. Of course, Myth of the Rational Voter goes to some length to explain that enlightened preferences differ significantly from ignorant preferences: people with more knowledge tend to confirm. And Prof. Caplan confirms this conclusion with another discipline or two, that becoming more educated makes people think more like economics, epidemiologists, etc. Which makes this all the stranger. If enlightened preferences differed from ignorant preferences on 32/33 (is that right?) policy issues in Myth, what implies that this insight is unique to economics? Or that the opposite is special about those topics (atonal music?) where Bryan disagrees with the experts?