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2022 Hayek Lecture

August 02, 2022

The Manhattan Institute awards an annual Hayek Prize to a book that best reflects Friedrich Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty. The winner of this year’s award was The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous, by Harvard professor of evolutionary biology Joseph Henrich. Professor Henrich delivered the 2022 Hayek Lecture in New York City on June 8. He concluded his remarks with the Hayekian observations below.

Watch the full-length video here or listen via City Journal.


“To give you three Hayekian take home points, my first one is humility. Culture is smarter than you are. Learn from history, understand human nature, and study the diversity of human institutions and ways of living. Don't trust your intuitions. They're weird. Fragility—modern, weird institutions are fragile. They arose along a particular cultural evolutionary trajectory that opened up because one religious community adopted a peculiar set of incest taboos and family prescriptions. Impersonal institutions often conflict with our powerful nepotistic and tribal instincts.And finally, number three, liberty and diversity. Over the last two centuries, the capacity of modern societies to generate the torrent of relentless innovation, necessary to sustain economic growth, has hinged on their ability to bring together independent-minded people with different ideas, approaches, languages, customs, recipes, ways of thinking to freely engage and cooperate. This mass action depends on certain key aspects of psychology, including trust in strangers, tolerance of differences, and motivations to protect the free exchange of ideas. Even ideas you don't like.”

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