Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Crackpotia

Tyler Cowen reads R. Preston McAfee on editing an economics journal:


Pretty much 100% of kooks are theorists; you won’t meet a, say, physicist or physician with a Great Economic Idea that involved running regressions or doing lab experiments, although occasionally there is a table illustrating a correlation between some economic variable like lawyers or fluoridated water and per capita GDP.

This surprises me. The physics crackpots crackpot physicists I have known have been all too eager to run regressions - lying with statistics is still the cheapest game in town. I also wondered what an economics "lab experiment" looks like. Bear Stearns, perhaps?

It also occurred to me that at Caltech an economics prof is likely one of the untermenschen, and a reflexive swipe at physicists is perhaps obligatory.