How influential are economists? A Google test and Keynes’ ‘madmen in authority’

This is from a profile on John Maynard Keynes.

A search on “John Maynard Keynes” in November, 2010 yielded 1.54 million results.  Only Adam Smith, the Father of Economics, had more at 3.21 million. John Stuart Mill came in at 1.4 million, Milton Friedman at 1.13 million, and the other bright lights from the pre-modern era had results below a million:  David Ricardo (433,000), Thorstein Veblen (233,000), Alfred Marshall (220,000), or Thomas Malthus (174,000).

Smith and Keynes were nonetheless overshadowed by Karl Marx (4.33 million), who inspired a major political ideology.

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Keynes is also often credited with observing that economics is subject to a form of “last song syndrome.” He said:

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. … Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.

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