Academia

Confessions of an Economist

|

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.

Advertisement

NEXT: "Truly free markets are also free of privilege"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. We just need the right people, with the proper expertise, to run the economy. Then everything will be great.

    I didn’t say anything about people!

  2. “Forgive me Father for I have knowingly tilted the flavor of policy judgments.”

  3. Unless the journal plans on posting the articles anonymously, it would seem those with the most insight, having the most to offer, will be precisely the ones not contributing to the journal.

  4. RL—The authors can choose to be anonymous publicly, with only one editor knowing their true identity.

  5. I’m sure they will provide a differential equation that shows the amount of cognitive dissonance one holds based on their rank in government and desire to control other people’s lives.

  6. “Engaging in data mining” is not automatically producing a falsehood or mitigating one’s response as would be implied by its inclusion in this list. Such efforts sometimes produce counterintuitive results that can be frustrating for analysts, but nothing in the process is automatically outside of the realm of truth, as with the other examples.

    I, too, am interested in who would willingly say they “fudge the truth” of their research for the reasons provided. Sounds like a form of masochism if not professional suicide to respond at all.

  7. I’m confused. Someone oversimplify this for me. Please leave it free of idealogical standings.

  8. Making simplifications that obscure or omit important things.

    Like leaving out the stuff which completely contradicts your conclusions? How else can I prove my hypothesis?

  9. OOoh, this is exciting to see. Too bad we’ll get a biased sample (likely)

  10. P Brooks,

    The old fashioned way . . . THUNDERDOME!!!!!!!!

  11. Two memes enter… one meme leaves!

  12. *tips hat at TallDave*

  13. Everybody lies.

    And I can prove it with graphs.

  14. Why limit this to economics? Why not ask for papers from journalists too? THAT one would be a hoot!

  15. Wow, if this were for engineers and not economists no one would ever submit. It’d be more than career suicide, it’s downright illegal.

    What’s worse for public safety then? Is it bad economic policy based on a fraudulent study or a poorly designed bridge based on fudged calculations?

  16. Is it bad economic policy based on a fraudulent study or a poorly designed bridge based on fudged calculations?

    Sublicensing of a professional, ie, instead of a Professional Engineer, being a “Structural” or “Geotech” or whatever, instead of just being an engineer in practice as a professional who self regulates where they are competent. Once you go that route, you might as well equate yourself to a beautician in terms of professional licensing.

  17. I wish they’d have a symposium like this for climatologists.

  18. I wish they’d have a symposium like this for climatologists.

    Your heresy makes Gaia cry.

  19. …the individual may publicly express views or attitudes that are false to his or her true private views or attitudes…….

    I can’t wait for this to be published!

  20. Sublicensing of a professional, ie, instead of a Professional Engineer, being a “Structural” or “Geotech” or whatever, instead of just being an engineer in practice as a professional who self regulates where they are competent. Once you go that route, you might as well equate yourself to a beautician in terms of professional licensing.

    Huh? I was referring to a P.E. I suppose that’s about the same a a beautician or professional economist. Wait, no? What?

  21. ‘Introspective and personal, yet impartial’? What would Admiral Ackbar say?

  22. Huh? I was referring to a P.E. I suppose that’s about the same a a beautician or professional economist. Wait, no? What?

    So was I. As they say, “I are one.” What I’m saying is that while you have sublicensing, engineers no longer self regulate based on competence, as a professional should. Ergo, you might as well make it equivalent to a beautician license, for all it’s worth, or an economist. The programs do it all anyway, and since we’re all fractionated into little “experts” for the purposes of making work, there is no professional responsibility left. You asked what is worse, a or b, I said c. That’s all.

  23. This sounds like an earnest effort by an academic.

    How sad for him.

    “Please describe for the class how you have committed academic fraud.”

    Yeah, I’m sure this will turn out well.

  24. preference falsification: the individual may publicly express views or attitudes that are false to his or her true private views or attitudes…….

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo….

  25. Fascinating.
    Given the overwhelming leftism of most college campuses, I’m not surprised that most economists lie about what they really think.

    I’d suggest a follow-up dealing with scientists lying about belief in God.
    Or using agnosticism as a dodge to avoid admitting they are unbelievers.

    Then we can add women pretending not to like bad boys, and men claiming they really like women who are smarter than them.

  26. I’m not usually one to eagerly await academic journal symposiums

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.