Friday, November 26, 2021

Speaking Of Meritocracy And The Related Marketplace Of Ideas

There are lots of economists out there doing empirical work of various kinds. Economists tend to put their work out there as working papers, before they have received anything resembling a rigorous peer review process.

The actual peer review process for publication isn't necessarily so rigorous, of course, but it is, at least, a process, while working papers can be "posted to my website" or "issued in prestigious working paper series, which also don't have any peer review even though it sounds fancy."

Some of these papers get picked up by journalists and touted in our major newspapers, transmuting some bullshit sketchy results into popular wisdom.

The smartest boys on the internet and everyone who brands themselves "data guys" love this stuff, because by citing them they think it makes them smart, but really it just shows they have no idea how the research process works.

The studies that get picked up and broadcast widely tend to be like everything else, elite status quo supporting results branded as contrarianism. You know, racism is justified, American prisons are good, actually, more money just makes poor people miserable, rich people just have bigger brain pans, etc.

Whatever the internal problems of economics as a field, the public face of it is much worse than the reality, but only economists can fix this.