Friday, September 07, 2012

The Fine Line

Blogs have blurred the line for when Ph.D. economists are being "scientific" versus when they are merely firing off a personal "opinion" (i.e Romney is right or Obama will deliver 4% growth).  In blog entries, there are no footnotes.  Nobody is "two handed". Nuance vanishes and this creates a negative externality for the profession as a whole as prominent economists leverage their stationary and their past reputation to make bold claims that offer great soundbites but may not be true.  This worries me because such claims reflect on the whole profession.

Here is a smart quote I found in the comments in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
"We seem to be having the same conversation in different threads, so I'll stop repeating myself after this. Whether some "economists" choose to stay within the boundaries of their professional expertise in other roles, e.g., columnist, pundit, mercenary witness, etc., is an independent issue from whether economics is a science. Are we critiquing the discipline, or the actions of a subset of members of the discipline? (You should also ask yourself whether the subset of "'economists' that I read" is a representative sample of economists in general.)
Krugman is a great example of this. I imagine that his column is popular and well-received because he is leveraging his professional reputation to peddle his ideologically liberal views. The fact that the same data can lead to different interpretations does not (necessarily) make the process that analyzed the data less scientific."