Faced With the Choice Between Changing One’s Mind and Proving That There Is No Need To Do So, Almost Everyone Gets Busy On the Proof

Quotation 01: Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone opts for the latter.

Quotation 02: Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.

Creator: John Kenneth Galbraith, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Context: In 1965 Galbraith penned a book review for “The New York Times” of John Maynard Keynes’s famous work “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”. Galbraith discussed the slow acceptance in the U.S. of Keynes’s economic theories, and he highlighted the changing perspective of economist Alvin H. Hansen who had criticized Keynes’s previous book “A Treatise on Money”. Ultimately, Hansen embraced the ideas in “The General Theory”, and he became an influential advocate. Emphasis added: 1

The economists of established reputation had not taken to Keynes. Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone opts for the latter. So it was then. Hansen had an established reputation, and he did change his mind.

A revised version of Galbraith’s article was published in the 1971 collection “A Contemporary Guide to Economics, Peace, and Laughter” under the title “How Keynes Came to America”. Galbraith slightly modified his quotation: 2

Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.

Related Article: When the Facts Change, I Change My Mind. What Do You Do, Sir?

Image Notes: Depiction of a new idea from TeroVesalainen at Pixabay.

Notes:

  1. 1965 May 16, New York Times, Section: Book Review, Came the Revolution by John Kenneth Galbraith, (Book review of “The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money” by John Maynard Keynes), Start Page BR1, Quote Page BR34, New York. (ProQuest)
  2. 1971, A Contemporary Guide to Economics, Peace, and Laughter by John Kenneth Galbraith, Essays edited by Andrea D. Williams, Chapter 3: How Keynes Came to America, Quote Page 50, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified with hardcopy)