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January 24, 2003

Long article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about What's Wrong With Economics. Three observations. One: the squabbling in the economics department of Notre Dame is so bad the department will probably have to be split into two. Wow. Two: the article irritatingly and misleadingly conflates the thoughtful criticisms of Deirdre McCloskey and Ed Leamer--who have also proposed viable, constructive ways to address the criticisms they raise--with spacey critics who advocate Austrian, Afrocentric, Marxian, and feminist approaches to economics that won't fix anything. Three: to the gentleman who claims economics isn't "predictive" and has the same maturity as "physics before Newton and possibly before Galileo," what social science do you have that's better? And maybe you should reconsider your career choice; I bet sociology could use a guy like you. (Or as the classic wisecrack has it: if you move to sociology, you'll raise the IQ of both disciplines.)

UPDATE: Link is now fixed. Thanks, Julia!

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Brian Guenzel

I find it interesting to read about these type of academic conflicts, wether in epidemiology, statistics (frequentist v bayesian), or economics- I would think it would be good to avoid "incestous amplification". Which I find in my chosen discipline, sociology, to be the sad case. My sociology professors tended to be more "hand waving" than my economics professors ;) I never have quite understood why sociologists or some other social scientists want to avoid debate, avoid math quite often, can we get away from stupid linear models yet!!! Sorry to ramble...if I could stomach all the calculus classes I'd probably pursue economics, I think the debates are good, the question of premises etc. Instead of sociologists trying to water down other disciplines, we'd do better to clean house. I'd post that comment on a sociology website, but I'd just get "hand waved" off, followed by some nihilistic diatribe.

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