But I can't believe Kling's second hypothesis, that a fear of math is at fault here. I've known people with a University degree in Math (also Computer "Science", also the hard sciences) to have economo-phobia. Kling's sample must be too small for his hypothesis.
There are other possible models to explain economo-phobia, assuming of course it's a real phenomena (Kling and I could be deluded, after all...).
- Pre-scientific models are replaced by generational churn, more than by rational thought. (For that matter, scientific revolutions also happen only at the pace of a generation). International trade in labour is too new to understand.
- The data that falsifies common-sense models is too hard to see. We can't directly link a drop in the price of the new pants we buy to a friend losing an IT job and deciding to go back to school.
- Common-sense models lead to plans like rent control. When these don't work, we're notoriously bad at throwing out models-- in fact we may become emotionally attached to them, rather than go through the unpleasant process of admitting rent control is not really possible.
- Economics uses the same words or terms as moralists, only perverting those terms from what a moralist understands. For example, "correct" outcomes and "value". Not to mention, a "good". It's difficult for armchair moralists to accept that terminology.
- Economists must overcome a certain "gag reflex" when putting a value on certain things, such as a human life.
- Economists seem to oppose certain moral-seeming actions. Taking the example of rent control again, surely it's a proof of moral upstanding to want poor people to afford decent living quarters. When an economist opposes a plan like rent control, she seems to oppose the whole idea of providing poor people with decent living quarters.
If common sense and morality are arrayed against economics (even if economics isn't against them), it's not too surprising that we find an understanding and acceptance of economics so rare.