June 21, 2005

Lambasting Levitt

Who the heck could Heckman be talking about? Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman of the U. of Chicago says:

“In economics there's a trend now to come up with cute papers in an effort to be cited as many times as possible. All the incentives point that way, especially for young professors who seem risk-averse rather than risk-taking after they get tenure. In some quarters of our profession, the level of discussion has sunk to the level of a New Yorker article: coffee-table articles about “cute” topics, papers using “clever” instruments. The authors of these papers are usually unclear about the economic questions they address, the data used to support their conclusions and the econometrics used to justify their estimates. This is a sad development that I hope is a passing fad. Most of this work is without substance, but it makes a short-lived splash and it's easy to do. Many young economists are going for the cute and the clever at the expense of working on hard and important foundational problems.”

Personally, I have no problem with "cute" and "clever." I just object to "not true."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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