Economic Notes From the Underground

24 October 2008 at 8:54 am 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

An interesting call for proposals from EconJournalWatch:

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella Notes from Underground (1864) is a classic of introspection and confession. The symposium takes its title from Dostoevsky’s work.

The prospective symposium will consist of confessional essays by economists about their existence as economists. Only genuine narrative and sincere reflection are welcome. However, essays may be anonymous.

Here are the kinds of confessions the editors have in mind:

  • Building models one does not really believe to be useful or relevant.
  • Making simplifications that obscure or omit important things.
  • Using data one does not really believe in.
  • Focusing on the statistical significance of one’s findings while quietly doubting economic significance.
  • Engaging in data mining.
  • Drawing “policy implications” that one knows are inappropriate or misleading.
  • Keeping the discourse “between the 40 yard lines” so as to avoid being outspoken; knowingly eliding fundamental issues.
  • Tilting the flavor of policy judgments to make a paper more acceptable to referees, editors, publishers, or funders.
  • Disguising one’s methodological or ideological views, such as by omitting revealing activities or publications from one’s vitae.
  • For government, institute, or corporate economists: Having to significantly play along with things one does not believe in.

My reaction: Can a single symposium issue possibly hold them all?

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science. Tags: .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Per Bylund  |  24 October 2008 at 9:59 am

    I don’t get it. Surely economists, like other scientists/researchers, are interested primarily in The Truth and therefore would sacrifice everything before compromising with quality of research through holding back on relevant/important insights. At least, that is of course what I assume/expect as a student. So what’s the point of this symposium – to make me utterly disillusioned? To produce an army of cynics? ;-)

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