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February 02, 2018


Steven Clarke

Can point 1 overrule point 2?

If there is a fact that undermines a belief that form part of someone's self-identity, should you avoid talking about it?


The twitter debate you link to presupposes available platforms. And as you say, so few channels.
In my daily life I know lots of twats, and even more who consider me a twat. Actually I think serious, and interesting economists are twats when they seem not to notice our public service broadcasting is not currently interested in allowing them to illuminate – in giving time and space, beyond partisan debate, for the mechanics.
Odd that so much blame remains with a sceptical general public, given the place for non-partisanship was becoming parliament, and the place for 'real robust debate' the TV.


When a professional academic economist such as Wrong-Lewis or Yates stops making stupid arguments from non-existent authority, they might earn more respect. Just saying that the Treasury models agree with other models is not intelligent. They could look at assumptions and sensitivity analyses, but they don't. They expect people at least as well-educated as them to accept their expertise when they seem not to display any. All of us who have done modelling know that, with more than 2 or 3 variables, you can get any result you wish.

Zoltan Jorovic

As I understand it, the point about cognitive bias is that it is inbuilt. You can't avoid it simply by knowing about it. So warning people to watch out for it has little effect.

My second point is in response to Graeme. If you call someone silly names (like "Wrong Lewis") this reflects more on you than on the person you are trying to denigrate. As does describing their argument as "stupid". No doubt you believe you have good reasons for these opinions, but the rest of us don't live inside your head, so all we really see is you using this language and it prompts us to judge you by it.

In many ways, Graeme's response sums up why economics is in the mess it is, and why economists are not respected. It comes across as a set of battling faith-based sects, all convinced of their own unique correctness, none able to explain convincingly why to those outside the group. All the focus is on pointing out why everyone else is wrong, and all the evidence for this is based on theoretical models. Economics has become a religion torn by schism and beset by heresy based on intense but irrational beliefs which appear to offer no useful answers to most of the great problems facing our civilisation.

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