Friday, May 19, 2017

A Clever Device to Battle the "There's Vast Literature" Argument

P. Krugman isn't good on much, but he is good on cleverness.

He writes at the paper of record with a nod to Noah Smith:
Noah Smith has a very nice essay on how to deal with people who try to ward off serious criticism of their ideas by appealing to a “vast literature” you don’t know. As he says, sometimes there are vast literatures of nonsense, or at any rate of dubious quality, that mainly serve to protect vested intellectual interests.
Yet of course there are also cases in which you really should know something about existing research before opining, and Noah has a clever device: the Two Paper Rule. Give me two papers in this vast literature that are “exemplars and paragons” of the literature. If you can’t, the whole literature is probably a waste of time.

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