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The Secret Sins of Economics Paperback – August 1, 2002
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I've recently praised a Paul Krugman book as the best written book about economics I've read - I already rue my words, because it hasn't been three months yet, and Professor McCloskey, an artist of prose, surpasses him. Even if you disagree with everything McCloskey says, reading this book is a delight. When satirizing quantification in economics (which she approves, by the way):
"And the economists, oh, the economists, how they counted, and still count. Take any copy of The American Economic Review (Surely you subscribe?) and open it at random. To perhaps Joel Waldfogel, "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas" (No Kidding: December 1993; Waldfogel is arguing that since a gift is not chosen by the recipient it is not worth what the giver spent, which leads o a loss compared with merely sending cash. Who could not love such a science of Prudence?)" (p.6)
You could be mistaken into thinking that McCloskey is against quantification, statistics or mathematics, but she merely cannot resist some highly amusing cheap shots. McCloskey is in favor of Quantification, use of mathematic models, and of the libertarian bias of economists (not very convincingly in the case of the latter, in my opinion).
There are some other, minor sins which are not really the target of McCloskey, but to which she devotes a great deal of her time. So by the time we get to "The Two Real Sins, Almost Peculiar to Economics" it is already page 37.Read more ›
In particular any one with a science background will delight in her demolition of the bad science that characterizes so much of economics.
This is one of the best pieces I've read on any topic in the past decade.