October 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad

« Are Austrians "Crack Pots"? And if not how do we know? | Main | Rizzo + Keynes = DeLong Fail »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

As I said to Pete earlier, privately, I think anonymous comments are a form of price discrimination in that they open the conversation to more voice than would otherwise be present. Like all such price discrimination, it does let in some riff-raff but also provides opportunities that otherwise wouldn't exist. I think it's a clear net gain.

Anonymous posting is a healthy outlet for those of us with multiple personalities! :)

I'm with Horowitz, on the net it is probably a positive. How many students in class keep their hand down because of the attention? Anonymous commentators can often be students who otherwise are afraid to ask.

"I think blogging fails miserably as a tool in science/scholarship"

Does anyone really disagree with this? Blogging is a way to engage the public. No one is going to win a Nobel prize due to their extraordinary efforts in blogging. I hope there are no graduate students out there who think their blogging efforts will land them a tenure-track job. Dr Boettke, I think you understand blogging just fine (except that your posts are often too wordy for the medium).

And, Justin, tonight of all nights is one on which we wish to engage those who are afraid to ask. Happy Passover to all of our Jewish commenters and lurkers!

Steve and all,

Happy Passover to you too!

My education in economics is mostly the result of thinking about problems which interested me. I have read some books, and taken an Economics 101 class, but mostly I just continually think about problems. Reading Hayek is like reading my own thoughts--both affirming and a little disappoiting. Sometimes I take for granted insights which seem obvious to me, but yet many in the economics profession overlook. This I attribute to the meticulous way in which I explore the consequences of ideas.

Most of all I thoroughly enjoy the process of discovery. Nobody needs to hire me to spend hours each day thinking about these kind of things, because its just fun. Although my knowledge of specific circumstances may be wanting, I consider my grasp of economic principles to rival most economics professors. Perhaps this is my conceit. Though I wonder where I fit into your view of economic science.

Blogging can have a scholarly aspect too -- as a resource for articles and ideas. I have gotten many interesting references through blogs. It is also a way to draft and record one's ideas that can later be transformed into something scholarly. We should not pass over these points.

I agree.

Economists should be comprised of a closed preisthood and only economists should be entitled to opine on economic topics. After all, economists have successfully predicted every economic development over the past fifty to hundred years.

Bow, down, everyone, bow down to the economists...

Let's not forget, once again, Pete's argument that blogging is equivalent to conversations at a conference in the hotal lobby. I have to remind myself of that again and again. And Mario's point is right on, too. In my case, I think I came up with a couple paper ideas after engaging in spirited conversation

Anyway, as a newcomer to blogging, I find some of it fun if not even exciting, but I really don't care for the feeling of being "tethered" to my computer. It takes away from the time I could spend reading the literature.

Economic ignorance is under-rated.

Everyone 'knows' at least some economics, and what they 'know' is often wrong, even for Nobel Prize winners in Economics.

Regards, Don

That should be "hotel" lobby.

That's my other problem with blogging. Instead of it being like a true conversation, I have to type (and type [and type]) and frankly that gets frustrating.


Being engaged in science adds something more. As I said somewhere else, I think, we are engaged in conjectures and refutations. A person in the academic community puts their beliefs and conjectures up for the possible refutation by others. That, I think, is the primary difference compared to learning and thinking on one's own (and I do beg my own students to do just that!).


That's why I comment on economics blogs like this! No doubt I come off as a little dogmatic sometimes when I present my conjectures, but it's just my way of getting knowledgeable people to offer criticism.

By the way, your comment reminded me of another of my favourite Austrians, but not the economist kind--conjectures, refutations, critical discussion, etc. Of course, that same Austrian would probably stress the importance of self-criticism, too: there is no need to wait for others to refute a conjecture when you can do so yourself. Being wrong is exciting stuff, because only then do you really learn anything new!

May I add something more to my "context" argument I made in the other set of comments? In short, I said that context -- in this case, for example, knowing the person to whom you speak -- adds knowledge in the effort to judge the merit and meaning of one's claim or argument.

I thought of this an hour ago: Suppose someone says "The interpretive turn in Austrian economics was misguided and failed to offer anything worthwhile."

Now, if an anonymous commenter said this, I'd simply think to myself "I heard it all before." And leave it at that. But if I knew Richard Ebeling made that statement (he didn't, and I don't won't to launch a debate about hermeneutics as that's not my point) I'd be both surprised and interested. Surprised and interested because *he* made the claim. Now I'd be much more motivated to take that claim seriously again.

Contextual knowledge. An Ebeling making that claim would be engaging because he himself was probably the first to consider the interpretive turn (he, for example, originally influenced Lavoie on this). Ebeling has been published in a volume that encouraged the interpretive turn. My point? After hearing the criticisms for years (and participating in the debate years ago), and yawning over any new statements, esp. if provided anonymously, were Richard were to say something like that, you bet I'd take notice. Now we'd have something new to discuss!

Strange example. But to "fuse horizons" with the other, it surely helps if you have some knowledge of who that other is.

Right now I'm too busy interpreting Dave's comments about blogging to consider any second thoughts on the relevance of the "interpretive turn" in economics.

But I might comment that I recently did a paper called, "An 'Austrian' Interpretation of the Meaning of Austrian Economics: History, Theory and Method."

So I guess I'm still following the interpretive turn, unless, of course, someone would like to suggest an alternative interpretation.

Richard Ebeling

The gold standard for scholarship is publication in peer-reviewed journals. This should not be mixed up with "formal training" however. Formal training is in some ways irrelevant. It like having a law degree but being unable to pass the bar. The other side of the coin is that in the natural sciences (at least that is what I am knowledgeable in), many people's reasearch is outside of their "formal training". In climate for example, one may publish and be "formally trained" as a geologist, meteorologist, physicist, engineer, or mathematician. If you can get your work published in a reputable refereed journal, guess what, you are a climate scientist! Mathematicians publish in geology often, even though they have never set foot in a stratigraphy class. It seems to me to be a bit presumptuous to assert that those outside the economics field automatically lack the "aptitude". Most engineers or natural scientists have a good grasp of partial differential equations and statistics. Most of us can also read. Do you think your grad students can handle Hume or Kant or Liebniz better than most professional physicists? Your attitude reminds me of a theologian who does not like converts. If he believes that "real religion" is too good for the common man, he may eventually find himself out of a job. I do not mean to sound overly harsh, since I greatly admire each of your research and academic programs.

Dave P. said: "Now, if an anonymous commenter said this, I'd simply think to myself "I heard it all before." "

What if this was a double-blind paper? Should papers not be blind? Or is it because the blog post doesn't go into enough detail and precision?

Just a Q.

As regards to crackery and accessibility, was it Polanyi that said academic pursuits are beset at all sides by "Dabblers, quacks, and bunglers". Something like that. Only those inside are in a good position to tell.

But when there's dispute, what's an outsider to do? I've seen economists advocate for the minimum wage, trade restrictions, and all sorts of other things contrary to what I learned as an undergrad.

I know we can't expect truth to be simple all the time. But in economic matters, it seems to get ridiculous. But even so, I recognize that it's important.

Autistic Economics

100% accurate description of what is happening in the world today!

What we are seeing is unwinding of 2000+ years of money fraud. Money is a token representing energy utilization and it should be redeemable in energy otherwise it is a huge fraud.

Using gold as token/currency representing wealth without fixed redemption against food grains was the longest running invisible fraud in the history of mankind. All other frauds like slavery, caste system were quite visible.

Modern fiat currency and fictional reserve banking is a crime equivalent to slavery. Slavery is stealing the work/wealth created by others, this is exactly what is happening in the fiat currency system. People perpetrating the fiat currency system are stealing wealth produced by others.

Money or wealth tokens becomes a valid social contract and valid medium of exchange only when the issuers offer redemption against fixed quantity of food/fuel/energy. (What econ 101 don’t teach us, what autistic school of economists “desperately” tries to hide from public)

Reserve banks should have food/fuel/energy reserves to be called reserve banks!

JH, He was talking about natural science.

In the text of the talk I'm looking at (I'm sure he must have talked about dabblers elsewhere too) he writes, "Nature is given to man ready-made... But language, literature, history, politics, law, and religion, as well as economic and social life, are constantly on the move, and they are advanced by poets, playwrights, novelists, politicians, preachers, journalists, and all kinds of other, non-scholarly, writers."

He's making a distinction between the natural sciences and the humanities, and including economics in the latter category. He's oversimplifying things, I think, for rhetorical effect. I think the social sciences in their present form fall between natural science and the humanities.

I read Prof. Salerno's post and I was quite happy with it because I saw it as an attempt to avoid sectarianism.

However, the point raised in the post, proficiency in Austrian Economics being too difficult to be achieved as a hobby, surely makes sense.

In my opinion the point is: how much study does it take to become a good Austrian economist once a more standard (and probably more rewarding in the job market) PhD in economics has been obtained? Can a Chicago PhD, for instance, start to learn about monetary calculation and become an expert in the field after several years?

A home-schooled surgeon which in reality is a civil engineer will never be a good doctor. But an economist with a PhD in neoinstitutionalism or financial markets which spends years of his scholarly time in studying Mises and Hayek (I'm simplifying very much) may really become a proficient Austrian economist, with an additional ability of understanding the mainstream.

At the very end, there is only one economy, and it doesn't make sense that there is more than one economic theory. The goal of a school is to make its main teachings so successful to cause its own extinction.


I was talking about an anonymous commenter on a blog, not papers for referred journals!

And, on the double blind process itself. here, indeed, arguments are to be judged on merit alone. But part of that is an evaluation of the author's knowledge of and command of the literature. Why blogging isn't a scholarly activity is that statements are all too often thrown out there with no references to particular writings, page citations, etc. And I understand why: this is not the venue to do mini research papers and so on.

Oh, and here's an interesting suggestion: I seem to recall that, over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler discussed a proposal (or thought) that there should be an outlet for seeing articles that were rejected. That would be especially neat if the author's name was attached to it. It would provide more knowledge not only about how and why arguments are considered to be weak or unsubstantiated. It would also make more clear how an author's reputation -- considered by evaluating his command of the literature, his ability to sustain and argument, etc etc -- is on the line.

I am a self-taught Austrian economist.

Formal teaching is no panacea as long as what is being taught is not Austrian economics. I mean, look at the list of idiot PhD economists who support a minimum wage.

But most people are clueless about economics, not caring for or understanding the need for years of study. I think that people simply don't understand that there is actual science behind economics, and confuse it for mere opinion. And everyone is entitled to an opinion....


You said that Pete Boettke's were too "wordy," but maybe you're using "wordy" as a synonym for "long"? I'd say they are neither wordy nor too long. One of the great things about this blog is that the posts generally have substantive and considered arguments. And Boettke's are some of the best. Without his moderately lengthy posts -- and those of the other professional economists who blog here -- this would be a very different forum. And the worse for it, I think.


You say, "Formal teaching is no panacea as long as what is being taught is not Austrian economics." Now hold on. Sure, there are no panaceas, but let's remember the fundamentals. AE is *economics* first and foremost. If we magically excised Menger, Mises, and Hayek from the scene, we would still have economics, including the basic theory of markets. You don't need Austrian epistemics for the standard economic criticism of price controls or to recognize that economics is indeed a science. Most of the real work done by economics is done by the basic theory of markets. I think the marginal return from investing is AE is well above the ordinary and normal return from other schools of thought. The high marginal return to AE does not imply, however, that AE is the only good economics.

Occasionally people here have maintained that profs shouldn't teach the standard models (neoclassical Keynesian, and so on). I don't know how many of those folks have teaching experience, but I want to go on record as saying I spend a great deal of time teaching the standard theory. My upper-level micro theory course is about two-thirds (if not more) neoclassical. Same with the upper-level macro theory course that I teach. I develop the Austrian theory of the cycle during the last few weeks of the semester.

Why? For students to really appreciate the Austrian perspective, they must know the monetarist. To understand monetarism they must understand the debate with Keynesians. To understand Keynesians of the neoclassical synthesis they must know Keynes's original model, and to know that they must understand the debate between Keynes and the Classics.

I.e., to know what Austrian theory is is also to know how it differs -- dramatically -- from earlier (and contemporary) predecessors. What would be, for example, of Kirzner's theory of entrepreneurship if he had limited understanding of the standard (and Fisherian non-standard) models?

For, an Austrian might say "we study disequilibrium while you only study equilibrium." And then, by golly, we find other neoclassicals who say they, too, study disequilibrium. Even better: we say equilibrium doesn't really exist. And we find the post-keynesians saying the same thing: "The economy is a non-ergodic system, and that's what we emphasize while you Austrians implicitly assume equilibrium." (I had a published debate on precisely this issue with non other than Paul Davidson, who was attacking the O'Driscoll-Rizzo book.) So my point is that we have to know the enemy, to put it dramatically in war terms (which I hesitate to do).

Mises says that to be solid economists we should understand other disciplines outside of economics. Well, I'd be thrilled if we'd get as far as knowing the neoclassical model as best we can. That's what I've tried to do in my two decades of teaching, and I think it works quite well.

As an example of knowing the neoclassical model, I would suggest -- at the grad level -- Hicks's Value and Capital: An Inquiry into Some Fundamental Principles of Economic Theory. It is a brilliant book. Even deeper, and I would only recommend at the grad level, I've profited from struggling through Debreu's The Theory of Value. Without a solid undergrad training in neoclassical economics and mathematics, I wouldn't understand either book, and I'd be a much weaker Austrian as a result.

There are so many other books that I don't have time to list, but perhaps others here could recommend.

Chris, thanks for the additional framework on the Polanyi quote. I was using it for rhetorical effect as well.

I'm not sure of the extent of "dabblers, quacks, and bunglers" in economics. I know there are institutions to weed them out.

Those institutions like double-blind peer reviews aren't in place in the editorial pages of The Detroit News. Rarely are comments Promethean -- bringing the wisdom of the science to illuminate the lowly. But that's where the lowly get to hear from economists.

See Charles Ballard's comments on Michigan policy for an example.

A very interesting topic. I'm not an economist, but I have studied economics (informally) for years and am more informed on the topic than the vast majority of laymen. I blog frequently on economic issues and I comment often on economics blogs.

It is through blogging that sound principles of the discipline will eventually be spread from websites like this one to blogs like mine and on to others. Who knows? Someone in the media might even pick up on a post and run with it, though I wouldn't hold my breath.

Blogging is the best opportunity economists have had to popularize their work and that's needed now more than ever.

By your own criteria, you are a mere "crackpot" when it comes to the science of science.

Think about it.

Someone needs to do an Alan Sokal experiment in economics --

Oh, I forgot. That's impossible in economics, because so many of the published articles are already misleading pseudo-scientific non-sense ...


You really are fighting a battle from 15 to 20 years ago. You often site the AEA report Colander cites on the problem with graduate education. That was when I was in graduate school. The profession has moved on -- more institutional, more open to challenges to the core, more historical, and more interesting. Part of that is because of the dilemma in development economics and attempting to solve this problem they had to open up to institutions and history.

With that comes some acceptance of the insights of Hayek, but also Buchanan, Coase, Demsetz, North, Olson, etc.

Even Kirzner.

But what I really don't understand about this discussion is why people fail to read what I am saying: (1) I argue that blogs are appropriate for the popular discourse on economic policy, and I suggest that interested laymen need to be part of that conversation; and (2) I argue that blogs are NOT appropriate for scientific discussion, and that laymen would need to meet the professional test to be able to make a contribution otherwise they shouldn't be part of that discussion.

Now, Greg you comment on my status in the field of commenting on the nature of science. First, I never said anything about science per se, but economics in particular. And there I beg to differ. First, I am a trained economist and have been in the economics profession for close to 20 years Second, I am a published author in the top field journals in the area of history of economic thought and methodology, and the philosophy of economics. So I think experience and credentials mean I (along with Koppl and others here) pass the test.

BTW, I think Chris misunderstands Polanyi's point and I would also suggest you all read Kuhn's The Esential Tension --- it is all about the insiders and the outsiders and the claim that insiders who become outsiders have versus the claim that outsiders will have. Also, look at Polanyi's Republic of Science and what constitues a contribution in science and the interaction between the conservative forces in science and the revolutionary forces. It would be good if we could perhaps talk about these essays to frame this discussion.

"I think blogging fails miserably as a tool in science/scholarship except in the limited role of informing the community of where the REAL scientific/scholarly conversation is taking place."

Granting that premise -- I'm not sure I do -- that's not an un-valuable role!


In "The Republic of Science" Polanyi writes that:

"Only the discipline imposed by an effective scientific opinion can prevent the adulteration of science by cranks and dabblers."

In "Science: Academic and Industrial" from two years earlier the exact same sentence appears.

Since it was from the second article that I quoted Polanyi as writing that:

"Nature is given to man ready-made... But... economic and social life, are constantly on the move, and they are advanced by... all kinds of other, non-scholarly, writers."

it is clear that Polanyi does not consider economics to be a science. He is therefore necessarily not talking about economics in "The Republic of Science" and does not believe it needs to be protected from outsiders.

As for Thomas Kuhn, I don't have a copy of ET to hand, but I know that for Kuhn economics is not normal science. It is preparadigm science by virtue of the fact that there has never been a consensus in it. Economics is in fact often held up as - no pun intended again - the paradigmatic example of Kuhnian preparadigm science.

"I agree with him. Austrian economics learned properly is a full course curriculum at the PhD level. One must specialize. At the same time, however, Joe and others, argue that rather than attend the PhD programs where Austrian students can take formal courses in the approach, attend weekly workshops in the approach, are actively encouraged to study the approach from ALL perspectives, etc."

Well, can you offer some advice for me? I currently reside in Brazil, thousands of kilometers from any graduate program in austrian economics. How can I get to study in George Mason or NYU, or any other graduate course on austrian economics (there is?)? I only need to make good scores in the GRE test and the TOEFL?

Prychitko said:
"Even deeper, and I would only recommend at the grad level, I've profited from struggling through Debreu's The Theory of Value."

I read this book in the weeks before I took my first undergraduate micro test. It sure was much denser than what I had in class.

But, neoclassical economics is essentially a special case of austrian economics, isn't it? Them, what an austrian economist can gain by reading the hardcore heterodox stuff like Kalechi?

The "test" I take it is a professional test within a profession -- philosophers of science don't much take seriously physicists who've published in peer reviewed physics publications on the methodology of physics. They often don't even take seriously physicists who've published in philosophy of science journals.

To be considered a "professional" you have to go native -- very, very few can be found in academia who qualify here.

David Hull comes to mind .. but he'd still say he's a philosopher, not a biologist.

Don't forget, however, that I'm a bit of a respectful critic of the German model of "professionalism" in academia which America took on as it's own.

The "professional" model had some virtues and some drawbacks -- lots of pathologies out there in philosophy, economics, etc. that can be directly tied to the professional structure of those professions.

Peter writes:

"Now, Greg you comment on my status in the field of commenting on the nature of science. First, I never said anything about science per se, but economics in particular. And there I beg to differ. First, I am a trained economist and have been in the economics profession for close to 20 years Second, I am a published author in the top field journals in the area of history of economic thought and methodology, and the philosophy of economics. So I think experience and credentials mean I (along with Koppl and others here) pass the test."

There's another problem in the context of our back and forth, Pete.

A lot of philosophers of science don't consider economics to be science -- so a paper on the "methodology of science" would be a paper outside of the professional discipline of the philosophy of science -- most especially if it is written by someone who is not a philosopher of science at a top 10 school.

[sorry, in the above that should have read "the methodology of economics, i.e.:]

There's another problem in the context of our back and forth, Pete.

A lot of philosophers of science don't consider economics to be science -- so a paper on the "methodology of economics" would be a paper outside of the professional discipline of the philosophy of science -- most especially if it is written by someone who is not a philosopher of science at a top 10 school.

My good friend and worthy opponent Pete caricatures my position when he writes: "Joe and others, argue that rather than attend the PhD programs where Austrian students can take formal courses in the approach, attend weekly workshops in the approach, are actively encouraged to study the approach from ALL perspectives, etc., students should attend programs that don't permit such a study of Austrian economics and instead engage in a course of self-study. in their spare time Would Joe suggest a similar course of action for the surgeon he is going to see? Study broadly medicine, but don't focus on X area of medicine. Instead, just do that on your own. Does that sound like "rigorous training"? I have repeatedly asked for empirical evidence, but none has been offered."

But in this rhetorical flourish Pete succeeds yet again begging the core question of whether GMU is an Austrian program in the common sense meaning of the word and even in the sense in which Pete himself construes the term. Here were the points I made in my final comment "over at the Mises blog":

One interesting revelation [in the thread on the Mises blog] was that there seems to exist an Orwellian doublethink in GMU circles to the effect that the GMU program both is and is not a program dedicated fully to Austrian economics. As I noted early in the thread Pete stated in his podcast interview with Russ Roberts that "research at GMU is a stew of Menger, Boehm-Bawerk, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Kirzner, Lachmann, Alchian, Buchanan, Coase, Demsetz, and North." Also, in this thread Pete himself referred to the program as "a broader program in philosophy of economics and political economy." All well and good—GMU is an interestingly eclectic program in political economy with some Austrian influences. But then later in the thread Pete went on to say that GMU students may, if they want, "study Austrian economics in depth." I fear that these are mutually contradictory positions, only one of which can be correct. Either the GMU program is a full-blown dedicated Austrian program or it is not. It may well be true that the GMU Ph.D. program integrates more elements of Austrian economics into its curriculum than any other program currently extant. But this is a far cry from an Austrian Ph.D. program as often advertised. So I am not against what GMU really is; I am against its promoters claiming that it is something that it is not. What I am arguing for is truth in advertising so that we all can more accurately advise our students on graduate schools. As John Lennon sang: "All I want is the truth. Just gimme some truth, Pete." (Okay, so he didn't really say Pete's name.)

In this vein, I look forward to the publication of the paper by Boettke, Coyne and Leeson on “Comparative Historical Political Economy,” which in Pete’s words “lays out the research program as we see fit [it?]-- the way to take the Mises/Hayek/Kirzner paradigm in economics into the literature on political economy.” This will finally reveal the core research program of Masonomics in black and white. This will be an extremely useful document for those such as myself who are advising Austrian-oriented students of the alternative grad programs available to them. It will also lead to more substantive and academic discussions of what exactly constitutes Masonomics.

The one new argument that was brought up and merits serious consideration concerns the fact that students who enroll in a standard mainstream program do so without the benefit of an Austrian "mentor." By mentor, as Pete and Walter use the term, is meant an intellectual (and material) caregiver who, cash in hand, actively recruits a student, takes him under his wing, carefully molds his research program to reflect contemporary trends and, above all else, assists him in finding a job. But this New Age concept of mentor as glorified sugar daddy/job counselor sharply conflicts with the classic understanding of a mentor as a master of his discipline who is eagerly sought out by the aspiring student. In the classic model the student MAY after a time be accepted by the master as his protégé if he shows a spark of creativity; if not he is cast aside as a nuisance. The mentor offers nothing to the student but the opportunity to observe and familiarize himself in an intimate setting with the mentor's thought and work. He is not often a warm and fuzzy drinking buddy but a stern and aloof, and even curmudgeonly, taskmaster. Thus Boehm-Bawerk and Wieser sought out Menger; Mises sought out Boehm-Bawerk (who was always lukewarm at best toward Mises's work); Rothbard sought out Mises and Dorfmann (his dissertation adviser at Columbia); Huelsmann sought out Hoppe and so on. The classic mentor-protégé model is intended primarily to foster protégés who are ruggedly independent thinkers and are expected to go beyond and even contradict the work of the mentor--after fully absorbing his body of thought. New Age mentorship is designed primarily to procure careers for as many students as possible, some of whom do and some of whom do not become independent thinkers and contribute to the discipline. Whichever model one prefers, the point is that the classic model can and does exist in the absence of the formal professor-student relationship in a common academic institution. (For those who are interested, a very good recent film depicting the classic mentor-student relationship is "Copying Beethoven.”

"I think blogging fails miserably as a tool in science/scholarship except in the limited role of informing the community of where the REAL scientific/scholarly conversation is taking place"

It seems to me that there is a lot to be said for Tyler Cowen's view that it should be possible to take a good economics argument and write it out on the back of a moderate-sized postcard ("Discover your inner economist", p7). It should be possible to summarize a good economic argument in a blog post.

As far as I can see the only problem in attempting to conduct a scholarly conversation on a blog is that some unscholarly person might try to join in. But it also important for good economic arguments to be able to pass the Grandma test i.e. they should be intelligible to a non-economist Grandma.

The problem with the surgery analogy is that the people conducting the equivalent of surgery in economic policy are politicians with little or no training in economics.

Incentivizing garbage leads to institutions which produce mountains of garbage; domains of understanding which are mostly non-formalizable soon give way to pseudo-scientific formalized garbage that provides a metric for "excellence" -- incentivizing garbage and discriminating against understanding.

We see this ALL THE TIME in academia, in the philosophy departments, in the economics departments, you name it. And so we have institutions which reward the production of garbage "research" and which penalize and snuff out such things as teaching.

You more than anyone should know this Pete.

The point has been made in the context of what the Universities produce in this article in Inside Higher Education:

Today's Inside Higher Ed: Incentivizing Failure: AIG and the Academy, by Christoph Knoess (Founder, Engaged Minds):

"America is up in arms about bonuses for AIG executives who raked up astronomical losses that have (almost) brought our economy to its knees. ... In higher education we might shake our heads over the insane amounts of money involved, but when it comes to warped reward systems that sabotage an entire profession’s ability to perform its most important function, we don’t have to look far. ...

If faculty are focused more on research than on the success of their students, they are behaving rationally and in accordance with the metrics used by their employer. On many campuses teaching and advising are considered to be hard or impossible to measure, ergo they do not get rewarded, ergo it is considered acceptable and inevitable that too little time and effort are invested in them. ...

Faculty embrace the value system of their employers as much as the executives of AIG’s Financial Products Division used to. Similarly, their bosses in the cabinets of their institutions seem to have lost focus on their core missions as much as the management committee of AIG had during the derivatives bubble. The coming lean years will show how much of the branches that support our higher ed institutions have been cut away in the past by a compensation system that incentivizes failure not only of students, but maybe also of entire institutions."

Da, probabil, de aceea este

The comments to this entry are closed.

Our Books