Monday, March 15, 2010

"The economics profession is in crisis"

This may sound strange but all this soul searching by economists like Mark Thoma makes me think that the field might be on the verge of extensive reassessment and major advances.

From the Economist's View:
The fact that the evidence always seems to confirm ideological biases doesn't give much confidence. Even among the economists that I trust to be as fair as they can be -- who simply want the truth whatever it might be (which is most of them) -- there doesn't seem to be anything resembling convergence on this issue. In my most pessimistic moments, I wonder if we will ever make progress, particularly since there seems to be a tendency for the explanation given by those who are most powerful in the profession to stick just because they said it. So long as there is some supporting evidence for their positions, evidence pointing in other directions doesn't seem to matter.

The economics profession is in crisis, more so than the leaders in the profession seem to understand (since change might upset their powerful positions, positions that allow them to control the academic discourse by, say, promoting one area of research or class of models over another, they have little incentive to see this). If, as a profession, we can't come to an evidence based consensus on what caused the single most important economic event in recent memory, then what do we have to offer beyond useless "on the one, on the many other hands" explanations that allow people to pick and choose according to their ideological leanings? We need to do better.

(forgot to block-quote this. sorry about the error)

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