Academia

Confessions of an Economist

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A fascinating call for papers from Econ Journal Watch:

In a rich body of highly regarded work, the Duke University economist Timur Kuran has developed a theory of preference falsification: the individual may publicly express views or attitudes that are false to his or her true private views or attitudes…….

The impetus of the symposium is to provide an outlet for exploring preference falsification and other forms of moral or intellectual compromise within the economics profession. Authors are encouraged to be introspective and personal, and yet impartial……

In his or her essay, the author should clarify the kind of preference falsification in which he or she has engaged. For example:

  • Building models one does not really believe to be useful or relevant.
  • Making simplifications that obscure or omit important things.
  • Using data one does not really believe in.
  • Focusing on the statistical significance of one's findings while quietly doubting economic significance.
  • Engaging in data mining.
  • Drawing "policy implications" that one knows are inappropriate or misleading.
  • Keeping the discourse "between the 40 yard lines" so as to avoid being outspoken; knowingly eliding fundamental issues.
  • Tilting the flavor of policy judgments to make a paper more acceptable to referees, editors, publishers, or funders.
  • Disguising one's methodological or ideological views, such as by omitting revealing activities or publications from one's vitae.
  • For government, institute, or corporate economists: Having to significantly play along with things one does not believe in.

I'm not usually one to eagerly await academic journal symposiums, but they've got me hooked with this one.