Friday, September 3, 2010

EJW Testimonial Puzzle

My reply to Buturovic and Klein is coming out any day now at Econ Journal Watch, so I've been checking the website fairly regularly in anticipation of the new issue. One thing they have on the right side of the screen is a series of what they call "testimonials". Basically readers gushing about Dan Klein and EJW. This one stood out as a little odd to me:

"David Hume once said “Truth springs from argument among friends.” For too long economics has been without serious challenge from without and within. Econ Journal Watch is important because it provides a mechanism for open and honest debate. Without serious debate, serious science is simply not possible."

— David C. Rose, Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Really? Are we thinking of the same discipline? I think of economics as being notoriously argumentative. One thing it does not suffer from is a lack of introspection (or external critique for that matter). I think EJW represents an attempt to elevate critiques that other economists don't see as particularly in need of raising - and that is all well and good. But to say that "for too long economics has been without serious challenge from without and within" seems quite divorced from the reality of the discipline.

I'm still chewing on what I think of EJW. It has some decent points to make, but then I read articles like Buturovic and Klein and it strikes me that EJW is not at the cutting edge of good economics at all. I don't think there's any need to sugar coat it - I don't think Buturovic and Klein could have been accepted to any journal that the author himself wasn't an editor for. Also in that issue there was an article with some pretty base, easily addressed, and quite thinly veiled Krugman bashing like what you'd read on any number of libertarian blogs.

There are good articles too, though, which makes thinking about it tough. There are some fantastic methodological critiques. There are good retrospectives on things like the euro. I'm still forming my opinion on it - I would not provide the gushing testimonials that some people do. But this one struck me as particularly odd-ball.


  1. "I think of economics as being notoriously argumentative."

    Isn't that a "eye of the beholder" sort of thing?

  2. More so than other things you mean?

    I mean - sure it's an "eye of the beholder" issue. I think most people think that economics is among the most vigorous in peer review, in introspection, in critique, etc. I can see why EJW might think it needs to elevate certain specific critiques - that makes sense. But the idea that economics has been getting by with a free pass isn't really accurate at all.

  3. Though I do not find it to be in any way surprising, I thought I would send this on:


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