Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Romer gets better and better at calling out your mom

Hello to new subscribers. This is just a blog on economics, I'm just an undergrad so don't expect anything original from me, I'm really just running this blog so that I have sufficient ideas stored up for when I need to write theses.

But feel free to keep reading.

Paul Romer - more on my love letter to economics. Quote:

One suggestion is that it would have been better if I had written one of those passive-voice “mistakes were made” documents that firms issue after a PR disaster.

I name names because this is how science works. The standard practice calls for an individual to put his or her reputation behind a claim; to listen to the claims that others make; and to admit that the claim is false when this is what the evidence shows. I did try to restrict my criticism to people who have received Nobel Prizes in Economics or to Smets and Wouters, who have received wide recognition for their work, so it is not like I’m picking off the stragglers at the back of the head.

Seriously? An important part of Romer's withering attack on Lucas, Prescott and Sargeant was the illustration that economists, far from dispassionately pursuing truth, were instead publishing nonsense papers full of statistical fraud to back up each other's fancy new theory.

The social anthropology of economics needs to be discussed, and Romer did it. It really needs to be discussed, because economics is the only "social science" discipline that still refuses to analyze its own power structures and truth statements, even from a simple historical perspective.

I mean, I'm sure the Marxist heterodox crowd have been writing critically about economics for decades, but their analysis doesn't count. The analysis has to take place within the mainstream. The orthodoxy in every other scientific field analyzes itself: even engineers are postmodern nowadays. Why not economists? Are they scared to look in the mirror?


Why Use Humor and Sarcasm?

Wait... seriously, dude? Is someone honestly suggesting you need a reason? Whoever said that, he sounds like a crybaby to me.

The whine I hear regularly from the post-real crowd is that “it is really, really hard to do research on macro so you shouldn’t criticize any of our models unless you can produce one that is better.”

This is just post-real Calvinball used as a shield from criticism. Imagine someone saying to a mathematician who finds an error in a theorem that is false, “you can’t criticize the proof until you come up with valid proof.” Or try this one on and see how it feels: “You can’t criticize the claim that vaccines cause autism unless you can come up with a better explanation for autism.”

On the topic of Calvinball, do you remember the old methodological rule, “in economics, we don’t make assumptions about preferences.” At some point, this became “in macroeconomics, risk aversion and leisure shocks to preferences cause fluctuations in investment and labor supply.” One suspects that Orwell would have been amused.

I'm going to take note of this, then use it in my 4th year micro class.

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