Economics Will Not Be Mocked

by Mario Rizzo A few years ago I read and studied in great detail Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on globalization “Caritas in Veritate” or “Charity in Truth.” I posted a three-part analysis on the doubtful economics contained therein at ThinkMarkets. The first part is about the destructive influence of the encyclical. The second part is … Continue reading Economics Will Not Be Mocked

Top Young Economists Consider Their Future

by Roger Koppl Ali Wyne of the big think  blog “Power Games”  recently posted an interesting set of comments on the theme “Empirics and Psychology: Eight of the World’s Top Young Economists Discuss Where Their Field Is Going.”  George Mason’s own Peter Leeson  was among the eight “top young economists” sharing their views. Over at … Continue reading Top Young Economists Consider Their Future

In Defense of the Koch Brothers and Academic Freedom

by Mario Rizzo Recently, there has been a ruckus, as discussed in today's Wall Street Journal,  over some grants to Florida State University from  Charles and David Koch to support professorships in economics. The objections seem to be that the Koch money will be used to support right-wing ideologues who, presumably, will indoctrinate the students. Furthermore, … Continue reading In Defense of the Koch Brothers and Academic Freedom

More Scholarship, Less “Science”

by Mario Rizzo Once upon a time, in a land far away from New York civilization, a famous economist told a good friend of mine that "we" need more scientists and fewer scholars in the economics profession. He was serious. This is the time of year that many Ph.D. dissertations are being defended in graduate departments of economcs. … Continue reading More Scholarship, Less “Science”

Update on Government and Science

by Bill Butos The New York Times of January 22 reports that the Obama administration has created a “billion-dollar government drug development center to help create medicines”  as part of the federally funded National Institutes of Health. According to the article, its rationale is to undertake research leading to the commercial development of drugs that … Continue reading Update on Government and Science

Predictably Rational: A Brilliant Book by Richard B. McKenzie

by Mario Rizzo  This is the time of the year that various publications recommend Christmas books or the best books of 2010. (I have never known what a Christmas -- or summer -- book is. Are they supposed to be light reading? I don't believe in reading "light." When I am in the mood for that, I watch TV.)  … Continue reading Predictably Rational: A Brilliant Book by Richard B. McKenzie

Further Thoughts on The Sensory Order

by Roger Koppl Over at Austrian Addiction, Dan D'Amico responds to my recent post on The Sensory Order.  Dan wants to know "what Hayek's theory of neuorscience is really adding here that a more basic understanding of subjective preferences does not already imply?"  Dan is not the only one with this question.  I think enthusiasts … Continue reading Further Thoughts on The Sensory Order

Just the “Basic Facts,” Mam

by Gene Callahan I was recently in a conversation with a very bright economist who declared "We are in agreement about the basic historical facts here; we are just interpreting them differently." This is a common but very damaging misunderstanding of historical knowledge: that there are a set of "basic facts" that historians are "given" … Continue reading Just the “Basic Facts,” Mam

The Amazing Brad DeLong

by Mario Rizzo   I don’t know where Brad DeLong acquired his philosophy of economics. DeLong responded to an article by Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, on “austerity.” The following is part of what the Financial Times edited out of the published version. DeLong posted it on his blog. He says there are two types … Continue reading The Amazing Brad DeLong

Understanding Markets: Point/Counter-Point

by Thomas McQuade and Chidem Kurdas Though it should be obvious to all that markets are of immense benefit to humanity, any appreciation of these institutions is almost always hedged with a perceived need to constrain and regulate—in short, to subject them to conscious outside control.  The reasoning is understandable: the unconstrained pursuit of self-interest … Continue reading Understanding Markets: Point/Counter-Point

Paying for Participation in Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials?

by Mario Rizzo   A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from the Harvard Medical School inviting me, among many others, to participate in a placebo-controlled trial of the efficacy of omega-3 (fish oil) supplements and high dose Vitamin D in preventing disease. The trial would last for five years.   I thought about it … Continue reading Paying for Participation in Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials?

All Decisionmaking is Doomed to Failure: Questions for the Bias Industry

by Mario Rizzo   Behavioral economists have an embarrassment of biases. They have discovered many cognitive and behavioral biases which plague human decisionmaking. By one count there are nearly a hundred of them.   A cognitive bias is a systematic departure from rational decisionmaking. For example, a person may react differently if he is told that a … Continue reading All Decisionmaking is Doomed to Failure: Questions for the Bias Industry

The Abstract and the Concrete

by Gene Callahan Abstraction can be an entertaining and useful activity. But every abstraction falsifies reality simply because it is an abstraction – it is a one-sided emphasis on certain aspects of the real at the expense of neglecting or even denying others. That is not necessarily harmful as long as we remember what we … Continue reading The Abstract and the Concrete

Epistemic monopoly is still a bad thing

by Roger Koppl McClatchy-Tribune Information Services has been distributing my op ed with Dan Krane on "Science rules the FBI should obey."  We discuss an example of epistemic monopoly in action, namely, the FBI's failure so far to release anonymized data from its vast NDIS (National DNA Index System) data set.  The NDIS data set contains … Continue reading Epistemic monopoly is still a bad thing

How Mathematical Economists Overreach

by Mario Rizzo In recent months there has been a discussion both in the traditional media and in the blogosphere about why orthodox macroeconomics failed to predict or explain the financial crisis and the subsequent Great Recession. Some of that discussion focused around Paul Krugman’s criticism that economics mistook  (mathematical) beauty for truth. Subsequently, there … Continue reading How Mathematical Economists Overreach

What is Science?

by Jerry O’Driscoll   Some recent controversies move me to take up the topic within the limitations of a blog post.  Many years ago (1956), Fritz Machlup ably addressed the issue in an essay titled “The Inferiority Complex of the Social Sciences.”  He rejected limiting the term science to particular subject matters or methods.  He concluded … Continue reading What is Science?

Mankiw And Meltzer Are Right! More Or Less

by Mario Rizzo   As we have been saying here, the claims that the fiscal stimulus has saved or created X number of jobs is not a simple empirical question. It must be an inference from a model that tells us what would have happened in the absence of that stimulus. Collecting reports from various firms … Continue reading Mankiw And Meltzer Are Right! More Or Less

Against Magical Thinking

by Roger Koppl The term “magical thinking” has different meanings, most of them involving something like extrasensory perception or the efficacy of spells.  Here I define it as an argument, one of whose steps requires something impossible.  (Larry White helped me with this definition, but gets no blame for it or anything I say here.) … Continue reading Against Magical Thinking

Mises Was A Scientist

by Roger Koppl Over at Division of Labor, Noel Campbell picks a fight with Austrian fans of Mises.  “I always conceived of Mises’ efforts as attempting to build a logically correct and (therefore) irrefutable description of human behavior. As such, I always viewed Human Action as a work of philosophy, not science.”   Noel hints that … Continue reading Mises Was A Scientist

The Failure of Macroeconomics

by Mario Rizzo   The current issue of The Economist has a very interesting article on the turmoil among macroeconomists (“The Other-Wordly Philosophers”). Essentially, the article argues that although the dominant macro model, dynamic stochastic general equilibrium theory [DSGE], appears to be in a state of near-total breakdown, there is no agreement among economists as to … Continue reading The Failure of Macroeconomics