Partisanship and dismal economics blogging

I haven’t been blogging much lately. Frankly, I got tired of it. Of course, very few read what I write, but I have no problems with that. I blog mostly to maintain some record of my thoughts. I mainly got tired of the whole so-called academic blogosphere. In particular the one originating from the US, which of course tends to be quite dominating.

My problem is the reductive nature of much academic US blogging. Many bloggers are high-profiled academic economists, who through their blogging are simplifying arguments so as to set up a “Them versus Us” feeling in the mind of the reader. Paul Krugman, of course, excels in this. Most discussions are condensed into a matter of being either in favor of “Them” (e.g., idiotic Chicago-neo-classical-rational-expectations people), or “Us” (e.g., sane and reasonable IS/LM-founded Keynesians). And then the ball rolls, and numerous just as prestigious economists praise “Them” or “Us”.

It makes for great debating platforms, and the most successful ones attract huge audiences, where anyone can join in. Very democratic. The problem, as I see it, is that many get a completely distorted picture of economic sciences. They see it as a shouting contest where it is about convincing one’s opponent about his or her shortcomings. There is no middle ground. There is not even a ground slightly closer to one side than the other.  It is either or. This could be a reflection of the two-party political system in US. You are either a democrat or a republican (if you are not, chances are good that you are considered a nutcase). Then you choose your side and engage in battle to win an argument.

Irrespective of the validity of this amateur theory, the result is extremely unhealthy for economic sciences: It is, and has always been, much more broad and encompassing than such “Them versus Us” battles would suggest. As with any science (how “dismal” it may be), economics is about getting smarter all the time. It is not about winning arguments. It is not about proving that your “school” is better than the neighbor’s. It is only children that would think so, and should be playing such games. But the amount of nonsense that adult economists amass for the sake of simplification and game play is often astounding.

Maybe things are better in Europe and elsewhere? Many blogs are more firmly founded in science and discuss important issues with the open minds of a true scientist. Could this reflect that many Europeans are not brought up with a two-party mind? But as in most other dimensions (expect few things as death penalties and gun laws), we cannot escape the influence from the US. Many students of economics therefore develop twisted ideas like if someone says this and that, then she belongs to school A, and must therefore not be taken seriously, as they root for school B. After all, they read it in famous economist X’s blog. (And they only read academic journals if forced to; after all, famous economists on blogs have declared them dead for years.) It is sad to witness.

I therefore think it is time to hail that middle ground where most sensible and open-minded scientists should operate. It is time to abandon the two-party m.o. in economics blogging and bring back science. Call me a dinosaur, but I believe that it is not necessarily those who shout the loudest that have the deepest thoughts to offer.
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PS: Many economics blogs are downright entertaining. But that is a completely different issue.

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Edit: I changed the title of this piece from “Bipartisanship. . .” to “Partisanship . . .” as I learned that “Bipartisanship” could mean the exact opposite of what I tried to say; sorry! I gotta watch House of Cards more closely.

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