5 Responses to Potpourri

  1. Steve Saideman April 19, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Given that at least one of the bombers was an aspiring engineer, I thought a link to an old piece on Engineers of Jihad seems appropriate: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/users/gambetta/Engineers%20of%20Jihad.pdf

  2. Tracy Lightcap April 19, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    I think Frase is missing a major point in his rant against “wonks”. The findings concerning errors in Reinhardt/Rogoff were made after the wonks made their article a matter of public discourse. That alone is enough to vindicate them, imho. How often do we see dubious findings made on important matters that aren’t given enough public space to entice anyone into taking another look? Answer = every damn day. Take, for instance, Martin Feldstein’s work on how Social Security was depressing savings rates. Most every economist raised an eyebrow at that, but there were no Ezra Kleins around to report on it. Besides, Feldstein wasn’t going to let his data out into the wild without a reason. It took eight years to get his data loose and virtually no time for Leimer and Lesnoy to discover that he had made a basic programming error in the analytical routines that vacated his findings. If Ezra had been around then it wouldn’t have taken anywhere near as long to get the data and discover the errors.

    I also think Frase is vastly underrating Klein’s expertise. He doesn’t write about everything, but what he does write about, he knows about. His knowledge of comparative healthcare systems would stand up in any academic venue. He could school many a political scientist (and sociologist, for that matter) on budgetary procedures too.

    • Jake Haselswerdt April 19, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      I agree, and would add that Klein was reporting on research that was published in the American Economic Review. It’s a little odd to blame a blogger for the failings of the peer review and editorial process.

      • Mark April 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

        I also agree. It’s very interesting to see the parallels between the blogger role on Reinhardt/Rogoff and on the unraveling of the climate change hockey stick; see http://climateaudit.org/2013/04/18/the-hockey-team-and-reinhart-rogoff/

      • hk April 23, 2013 at 3:04 am #

        Technically, R&R piece was NOT in the real AER. Where it was published in was the collection of interesting papers from AEA meeting (Papers and Proceedings), which are not especially good and certainly not peer-reviewed, i.e. not a “serious” paper. If Klein doesn’t know where the paper came from, it’s all the more reason not to trust expertise.

        Most politicians, policy bureaucrats, and journalists know the details of policymaking process far better than most academics. Academics are doing something different, more big-picture, more detached, and more abstract. Mixing the two up can be a dangerous cocktail.