Proposal for new requirements for econ majors

1. Demonstrate that as an economist, you know your limits. As Russ Roberts writes:

Economics isn’t rocket science; it’s a lot harder. We should admit as much and when asked to measure things we cannot measure, we should admit our ignorance.

As an economist, you should be the biggest and best critic of your work.

Even when your work seems airtight, you should caution that you may be missing something.

You should invite criticism of your own work.

When somebody wants to use your work to justify policy positions, you should be warning them, rather than encouraging them.

You should be able to properly identify your own biases and tendencies.

Economists should take an oath similar to the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians: First, do no harm.

2. Discussion requirements: You should be able to carry out discussions and debates without fallacy.

The persistent use of fallacy in discussion (rather than the occasional and willing-to-admit-it-when-pointed-out use) should be taken as a signal that you place a higher priority on what you believe is true than what is true.

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7 thoughts on “Proposal for new requirements for econ majors

  1. Here’s the problem that I see with most economists – rather than letting the economics dictate their political stance (which is to say their recommendations), they let their a priori political stance dictate their economic stance. They simply use the language and rhetoric of economics “explain” their political position. Nowhere is this more evident than when one examines Paul Krugman pre and post Nobel Prize. Once he won the Nobel, he discontinued any rigorous analysis of the facts and took the Nobel as a “crown” that validated whatever nonsense he uttered (which are often direct contradictions to statements he made pre-Nobel).

    I tend to think that government officials (POTUS) enlist economists not to get their sincere advice, but to have them finagle numbers and words in a manner that justifies the politician’s agenda.

    • When I attempt to read Krugman, I usually stop at the first, maybe second straw man or ad hominem. I think, he, himself is a red herring. I see so much chatter about how great Krugman was, or is in that particular column, or with this particular nuanced interpretation of what he wrote, or what he really meant was, or he should or shouldn’t, or did or didn’t, personally attack his opponents…that I find it distracting and unproductive.

  2. It doesn’t take an economist to figure this one out!

    My local paper ran a story last week where the CEO of our county hospital whine about the sequester and how it would cost the hospital millions of dollars. My initial reaction (shame on me) and I’m sue the reaction of most in my community was, “Oh, no, that’s bad for our economy.” But is it? Today I noticed the story that I linked above and I started thinking……..the answer’s usually there if you just follow the money. So, why are these GOP states being pressured by hospitals, insurance companies and drug companies to get on board with ObamaCare and all it entails?

    It’s been evident to all that ObamaCare is a form of wealth redistribution from one group to another group. In the case of ObamaCare, the wealthy AND the young are being forced to pay for health care for the poor and the old. But a more sinister redistribution is also taking place – from those who are not in the health care industry (insurance, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies) to those who are….and I suspect that the wealth transfer to the health care industry is dwarfs the wealth transfer to health care users.

    • Yep…rally the special interests who happen to be campaign donors and also rile the voters — ‘how dare they take money from our locality!’

      Yes, shame on you…but at least you caught yourself.

  3. Speak of the devil, Krugman was on at least 3 news shows I watched in the last 48 hours -and he was even more full of himself (that is to say, full of crap) than usual.


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