20 Oct 2009

Economics FAIL

As I mentioned last week, the economics Nobel prize went to people who were far from the neoclassical, theoretical, math-heavy mainstream of economics and close to the "relevant" side of the profession.

Although some economists have expressed surprise (or a lack of enthusiasm) at the prize, the comments on this discussion board (via AC) among PhDs who are now seeking jobs as professors are particularly revealing of the "autistic" side of my profession. Although I could be ashamed, I am not, since I do not associate with these folks.

Among the many statements of misogyny, ignorance and snobby shallow egos are these "interesting" comments -- and retorts by wiser heads:
"If she [Ostrom] is so big and important how come there isn't a theorem that is named after her? huh? tell me, smart ass!"
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"This is a reality check for these morons who think that mathematical exercises, that often do not advance our knowledge of the real-world by a single dot, is the only way to be relevant in the discipline."
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"Some of the stuff I see on this forum reminds me of reasons why I really do not want to ever be at a highly competitive or high, or even mid, ranked department in any subject, not for graduate school nor for any job... I'm about 99.99% certain that I would strongly hate being at Harvard or MIT, no matter what my reason was for being there. But, I did once enjoy taking courses at a community college. The people teaching those courses seemed happy, didn't seem stressed out, they didn't have to do research, and they were great teachers who really helped students understand things, rather than just meet a teaching quota and try to get back to research."
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"While Social Sciences might be about understanding the world, this is not necessarily true for doing research at a university. Doing research at a university, is about publishing articles in the 'right' journals to get tenure. But to get published in the top journals you usually have to follow the latest fads in your area, even if you think it is all rubbish."
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"Yes you whiny-ass titty babies are famous. I dropped in here once before and saw a similarly pathetic display over some other issue. Wassily Leontiev called your lot, including your heroes who actually have jobs, idiot-savants. That assumes you know any math at all. The savant part may be a misnomer. Best part of this is that the "prediction markets" failed on this award, big time. Very efficient. You are ignorant, anti-intellectual, reactionary punks and the privileged caste of elite economists to which you aspire should die, to be replaced by genuine, humane social science. I strongly urge some career revision; you aren't going to get jobs. Any functioning adult can see your kind a mile away. Just be sure when I order a bacon egg and cheese biscuit you don't give me an Egg McMuffin."
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"In the past two years, mainstream economics has demonstrated its utter inability to either predict or provide coherent remedies for economic crisis, arguably the most important goals of our profession. I think we could use a bit of "out of the box" thinking about now..."
Bottom Line: People are more than willing to lie, distort and just yell at ideas and people that do not reaffirm them or their ideas. This is only a tragedy when those people thereby discard better ideas in their quest for self-esteem. Sadly, this tragedy is widespread in economics research (discover what I discovered!) or teaching (learn what I learned!), which limits economists' ability to serve the common good.