Dec 13, 2022Liked by Emil O. W. Kirkegaard

There is a lot of truth in this.

I did graduate training in economics in the mid-2000s (the Freakonomics era) and there was a general enthusiasm around the discipline. Microeconomists were often using novel datasets to get counterintuitive results about social phenomena. Macroeconomists had "won" the battle against inflation and were generally pretty self-satisfied.

Economics is particularly vulnerable to p-hacking of course compared to psychology or medicine where you have a theory ex ante and you run some kind of experiment or survey. In macroeconomics you can always find plausible reasons to leave countries in or out of your model, or adjust your observation period, and that's even before you get to your choice of variables. Applied microeconomics tends to use administrative or otherwise novel datasets where there are also many choices around model specification too.

There much less gloss around the discipline now. A lot of microeconomists are scared away from the big social questions and instead (I'm making this up) try to exploit the randomness of traffic light sequencing to estimate to whether particular ethnic groups are more likely to be fined for a speeding offence. Macroeconomics has never really recovered from failing to predict the crash of 2007-08 or indeed the recent burst of inflation.

I think Emil is otherwise right that economists' hearts are usually in the right place.. They are obsessed with causality and that is a good thing. They are also the most quantitatively able of all social scientists. The discipline is less prone to ideological thinking (in either direction) but there is still basically no one who will directly answer the Very Big Question directly: why are some places and groups sustainably richer than others? You can figure it out if you read between the lines of course, but open enquiry is increasingly difficult.

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I have been reading "The Psychology of Totalitarianism" by Mattias Desmet. Much of scientific research is rife with error.

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Jones would do well to learn how to speak coherent English. His interview responses are incomprehensible.

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