Saturday, 26 April 2003

Krugman and Lott: Two Snakeoil Salesmen?

At the end of a blistering attack on Paul Krugman’s latest New York Times op-ed (and Krugman’s subsequent defenses of portions thereof), Donald Luskin says:

At the end of the day, what is most striking to me about this whole affair is what it says about the so-called “science” of economics, aside from what it says about Krugman. It shows that highly credentialed (but politically biased) economists can use their reputations as scientists to offer to the public egregious errors-cum-lies. And then they can defend themselves, when caught at it, by twisting the infinitely elastic theories of their “science” into whatever shape is required to justify the lie after the fact. In terms of its long-range impact on human well-being, the “science” of economics may well be the most dangerous fraud ever perpetrated.

John Lott’s critics have said much the same thing about his use of econometrics (via Tim Lambert).

Now, I’m not going to pronounce either way on these issues. But I will say that I’m glad my little corner of academe has absolutely no bearing on the real world, Perestroika movement be damned.

Ok, it’s a slight exaggeration. But nobody’s going to be arguing the merits of a federal tax plan or the Second Amendment or anything else that’s particularly important based on my research, at least until I have tenure. And at least they’re economists… I don’t have to claim them as my own.

Holy Mini-Instalanche, Batman!