Do economists cheat us by presenting opinion as facts?

Mark Buchanan of Bloomberg serves a scathing criticism on how economists use their imperialistic powers  and push their opinions as facts.

Many economists genuinely want to make their field more scientific — grounded in empirical evidence rather than in theory or, worse, ideology. Yet a recent article by four prominent academics demonstrates the extent to which ideology remains a problem. 

My Bloomberg View colleague Justin Fox has highlighted the motivated reasoning in the article, penned by a team of conservative economists including R. Glenn Hubbard of Columbia Business School and John Taylor of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. They argue that the current economic stagnation has nothing to do with a hangover from the financial crisis, and that policies such as lower taxes and cuts in social spending would markedly boost growth. They say this follows from objective analysis of data on past crises and recoveries.

As Fox notes, the analysis actually rests on a conveniently biased selection of data. It includes among past financial crises several moderate downturns that most economists don’t think of as crises, and rather bizarrely counts the grinding decade of the Great Depression as a “rapid recovery” from the recession of 1929.


This happens all the time. Some economists are seen as having higher soothsayer powers and use it freely to dispense their opinions. The media picks it as if a fact and tells us so and so said this and thus has to be believed…


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