Home > The Economics Profession > “A comparison that comes to mind”

“A comparison that comes to mind”

from Lars Syll

There is also a practical problem, if economics as a discipline is to survive. There is a huge amount of junk in the peer-reviewed economics literature–the reviewing process is no protection when the reviewers themselves are prejudiced. A comparison that comes to mind is the collapse of “scientific” eugenics. There were vast amounts of that written, and now it is only read as an object example of the capture of a social science by prejudice and authoritarianism. For economists, meantime, there is a huge task ahead: the garbage must be taken out; removed from the field’s teaching, textbooks, and policy advice. It will be a generation at least before this is set right, if indeed it can be set right at all.

Advice Unasked

  1. Mike Meeropol
    May 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Let’s start by urging all our colleagues (and following our own advice) to have at least one “heterodox” textbook in our Principles Courses — some of us have autonomy and should be able to do at least that much.

    There are a number — I won’t mention any for fear of leaving out worthy ones —

  2. Lori
    May 27, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    for principles? Please let me know of one……for Bschool students who will never see an econ class again….

    • Robert Locke
      May 28, 2013 at 11:38 am

      If the new economics is to include the analytical approaches of historians and social sciences that have been excluded from neo-classical economics during its post WWII efforts to make economics a “science,” then how are we to include the previously excluded subject matter and analytical methods. For an historian there is no way that financial economics, for instance, can be understood without adding a time-and-place specific political and institutional dimension to it.

  3. wisegrowth
    May 28, 2013 at 5:29 am

    Economics is simple with simple equations… Here is an example of new equations that are simple and clear and solid. Getting the data is hard, but these equations make using the data easy.

  4. Ken Zimmerman
    May 28, 2013 at 10:48 am

    All sciences are about prejudice and authoritarianism. But this “garbage” as you call it is better addressed not by “taking it out” but rather by embracing it fully and completely. Only by loving the monsters we have created can the monsters in turn become able to effectively engage the discipline of economics as a whole and the economists involved in the discipline. Cut off these monsters from such engagement and they become, like Frankenstein’s monster fearful and fear-filled threats to everything. Given this engagement economics and economists have the opportunity to become positive elements in the world. An uncertain process at best, but better than any of the other alternatives.

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