Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Krugman: Listen to the Gentiles

 In a new post, Paul Krugman spills the beans on the crony nature of establishment economics:
[M]odern academic economics is very much an interlocking set of old-boy networks; to some extent this has become even more true since the decline of the journals, with most discourse taking place via working papers long before formal publication. I used to refer to the international trade circuit as the floating crap game — the same 30 or 40 people meeting in conferences all over the world, reading and citing each others’ work; it’s the same in each sub-field. And to some extent it’s inevitable: there’s so much stuff out there, and you have to filter somehow, so you mainly read stuff by people you know and people they tell you are worth reading.
But it’s also true that this is a tendency one ought to lean against. One of my principles for research has always been “Listen to the Gentiles“.
His  “Listen to the Gentiles“ link then takes us to an MIT paper in which he wrote while teaching at MIT:

In the course of describing my formative moment in 1978, I have already implicitly given my four basic rules for research. Let me now state them explicitly, then explain. Here are the rules:

1. Listen to the Gentiles..

What I mean by this rule is "Pay attention to what intelligent people are saying, even if they do not have your customs or speak your analytical language."
It's too bad he hasn't taken his own advice to learn better the theories of Austrian school economics, of which, if one is charitable, one can say, at best, that Krugman has a limited Swiss-cheese understanding of.

On another note, in the same MIT paper, I found this introspective comment by Krugie fascinating:
There are a lot of things about my life and personality that I regret -- if things have gone astonishingly well for me professionally, they have been by no means as easy or happy elsewhere. But in this essay I only want to talk about professional regrets...[An]  important regret is that while the MIT course evaluations rate me as a pretty good lecturer, I have not yet succeeded in generating a string of really fine students, the kind who reflect glory on their teacher. I can make excuses for this failing -- students often prefer advisers who are more methodical and less intuitive, and I all too often scare students off by demanding that they use less math and more economics. It's also true that I probably seem busy and distracted, and perhaps I am just not imposing enough in person to be inspiring (if I were only a few inches taller ...). Whatever the reasons, I wish I could do better, and intend to try.

1 comment:

  1. Wow....that introspective comment at the end is loaded with stuff....really.