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Q: Keynes quotation -- historical context ( No Answer,   2 Comments )
Subject: Keynes quotation -- historical context
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: john_bullock-ga
List Price: $8.50
Posted: 14 Jul 2005 17:01 PDT
Expires: 13 Aug 2005 17:01 PDT
Question ID: 543651
In response to an accusation of inconsistency, Keynes is often
reported to have said "When the facts change, I change my mind -- what
do you do, sir?"

What is the precise context of this quotation?  What was the topic
about which Keynes was accused of being inconsistent?  Who made the
accusation?  Where can I read more about the exchange?

Thank you,
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Keynes quotation -- historical context
From: myoarin-ga on 15 Jul 2005 07:57 PDT
This site says that the quotation is only attributed to Keynes:

IF a source were known, it would seem that this site would have it
since anyone who knew would have posted it.

Subject: Re: Keynes quotation -- historical context
From: frde-ga on 17 Jul 2005 04:12 PDT
FRDE:The guy who owns this site is a stickler for precision.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) :
"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" 
(The Economist, 1999-12-18, p.47; reply to accusation of inconsistency) 

FRDE:Personally I don't consider The Economist that reliable

As for the frequency with which his opinions would evolve: ?When the
facts change, I change my mind ? what do you do, sir??
John Maynard Keynes, upon being questioned by a reporter about
changing his mind on an issue responded by saying,

When the facts change, I change my mind -- what do you do, sir?
The reporter promptly shut up.
According to Samuel Brittan, Keynes said something else:

Lord Keynes is popularly supposed to have said "When the facts change,
I change my mind." This banal misattribution drives me up the wall.
What he probably said was "When I change my mind I say so, what do you

FRDE: This sounds interesting 
- Brittan is a very long term writer on the Financial Times

FRDE:Hmm you're not the first to ask the question
- This is a mail archive
Michael: I used the quote for an epigraph, and lifted it from M. Blaug's
"John Maynard Keynes"...which I don't have around anymore.  Chris

John Maynard Keynes, "National Self-Sufficiency," The Yale Review,
Vol. 22, no. 4 (June 1933), pp. 755-769.

|Looking again to-day at the statements of these fundarmental truths
which I then gave, I do not find myself disputing them. Yet the
orientation of my mind is changed; and I share this change of mind
with many others.|

FRDE: well that /is/ from the horse's mouth

FRDE: Here is Samual Brittan FT 9/6/2003
J. M. Keynes is often reported to have said, "When the facts change I
change my mind". It is unlikely that he said anything so banal. He is
more likely to have said, "When I change my mind I say so, what do you

- Interesting, a review on a book on Keynes, it refers to Roy Harrod
(Keynes biographer)

|As a tail-piece I should record the fact that Roy Harrod, Keynes’s
devotedfollower and biographer, was active during the 1960s in the
promotion of aBritain-Commonwealth-European Free Trade Association
having some links ofplanned trade with the Soviet Union as an
alternative to the European CommonMarket. As I sat on a committee with
Harrod in this promotion, I asked him oneday whether Keynes would have
supported us. He said that he believed that hewould and reminded me of
one of Keynes’s favourite put-downs: ‘Whencircumstances change I
change my mind. What do you do?’|

It's curious that the quote should be so widely used, yet I can see no
firm attribution for it.

I must have first heard it around 1976, almost definitely from one
specific economics tutor, but I had got it slightly garbled (well
blunter, which may have been the version I was told) and recently
misattributed it to Churchill
- dying grey cells.

It is quite possible that it was carved out of his writing.
The best bet is probably the Roy Harrod biography.

I certainly don't consider The Economist of 1999 to be a remotely reliable source.

An interesting question.

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