Blogs, Journals, and Economists
By Arnold Kling
doesn’t this [the Internet] allow a lot of really bad economics to circulate? Yes, but is it really any worse than it used to be? As I’ve tried to explain, the notion of journals as gatekeepers was largely fictional even 25 years ago. And I have a somewhat jaundiced view of how the whole refereeing/publication system has ever worked; all too often, it seems to act as a way for entrenched doctrines to blockade new ideas, or at least to keep people with new ideas from getting tenure at a good school.
His views are similar to those of David Weinberger, in Too Big to Know. Note that Weinberger is scheduled to be interviewed by Russ Roberts in a podcast and by Nick Schulz and me for a video conference.
Joshua Gans has a related story.
I was sent a review copy of The Global Financial Crisis: What Have We Learnt?, a set of essays from highly diverse viewpoints. A few comments, which relate to the issue of communication among economists.
1. The book is expensive. In that respect, in tends to inhibit rather than promote access to academic research.
2. In their essay, Peter J. Boettke, Daniel J. Smith, and Nicholas A. Snow offer an anecdote of an exchange between Keynesians and Hayekians that took place on the letters-to-the-editor page of the Times of London in 1932. It made me think that this was the equivalent of the blogosphere in those days.
3. In his essay, Steven Kates writes,
We have ignored Say’s Law for three-quarters of a century and it has now led the world’s economies into the greatest fiscal catastrophe…
In his essay, J. E. King writes,
Say’s Law is false: supply does not create its own demand…we still live in the world described by Keynes in the General Theory, three-quarters of a century ago.
The book format means that these writers talk past one another. A more conversational medium, the Internet, would be better at bringing out what they are saying.