God knows, if it weren’t for intellectual flexibility, we’d probably all still be the mindless statists we were trained to be in the government schools. The career of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan illustrated this starkly (and in the wrong direction) in the eyes of anyone familiar with his 1966 essay advocating a gold standard. But those aware of “path dependancy” realize that Greenspan would have fared no better in attaining his eventual eminence than the other gold bugs had he not recanted the wisdom of his youth.
Out of the east now comes a new economist-bureaucrat to go him one better not only in scope (the World Bank), but in a history of intellectual change. The story of Justin Yifu Lin could give you whiplash just from the reading. It’s here in the Economist.