I was talking to my dad, explaining how academic economists are not very good at describing how markets work [seen the news recently?].
For example, many economists talk about "equilibrium," i.e., when supply and demand are balanced. I asked him the last time he noticed the real estate market in equilibrium.*
"You mean where prices are stable? Well, that happens every so often."Anyway, I told him that economists often assume equilibrium so that their mathematical models will work.
"But you only know that prices are stable after they stop being stable, right?"
"Oh yeah, right. We never know where things are going until after we've been there."
"But how can they do that if the real world is not like that?"Bottom Line: Those in the Ivory Tower will only serve the people if they walk outside every so often.
"Oh, because most of them have never been in the real world (they stay at university from their BA to their PhD to their job as professor). Even worse, they "job" is mostly about writing stuff for other academics.** And those writings are all about models that show equilibrium."
"What about teaching?"
"No, there are few rewards for teaching. You get tenure (lifetime job security) and promotions if you publish. Student evaluations don't matter."
"But what about the stuff you do? The blogging?"
"Nobody pays me for that. My postdoc salary is for "research," and I decided that blogging was the best way to use my time and skills. Look at my teaching -- I am doing that for free*** because I think that's important too."
"So will blogging and teaching help in your career?"
"No -- if you want to be a professor, all that matters is publication. That's why I am not going to apply for professor jobs at research universities.****"
* My dad's been in the RE business for 30 years. He says it's easy money -- 6 percent! -- and I've spent a lot of time trying to understand why 6 percent commissions persist. It's not the exclusive access to data -- the internet exposes data, but 6 percent persists. I think it's more because people are willing to pay 6 percent on the biggest transaction they will ever make.
** Although I find that few academics bother to read that stuff.
*** UC Berkeley will pay me $9,000 to teach EEP100. Since my postdoc is for "research," my postdoc salary will drop by $9,000.
**** This is a big decision I recently made (more to come...)