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August 25, 2009



Neither of these guys take these graphs as very seiuors indicators of what we should do or why we should do it. The point that we don't really have a metric for success (except maybe a graph from a report issued in January) seems more important than a quibble over how to make the best misleading chart for the press corp.


Someone on OB (can't remember who) once peostd full of the psychological evidence for exactly the proposition you're arguing. It's pretty good. If you didn't read it the first time around, I have to recommend it.However, there are also cases like the psychotherapists you described a few posts ago. They managed to do well and beat a control group, but the theories they used to explain their success were completely made up. The self-reports of patients probably would have been a better guide to what was going on in their minds than the therapists' Freudian models.Compare this to the evolutionary psychologists, who usually try to confirm their theories by predicting weird facts that would not have been obvious without their theory and then confirming them in experiment (like how the grief parents feel at a child's death is proportional to the child's reproductive opportunities).Some economists have managed to do this; others have not. I am only fully comfortable believing the economists' theories once they meet with such experimental success. If you want to convince people to believe those theories, you should publicize their successful non-retrospective predictions as much as possible.

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