Arnold Kling  

The Third Iron Law

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William Easterly takes on Paul Collier (and implicitly many other users of regression techniques).

Oodles of regressions were run...Oodles of control variables were tried...Sample was sliced up to get results...

Read the whole thing.

My father used to say that the third iron law of social science is that the methodology is flawed. The first iron law is "sometimes it's this way and sometimes it's that way." The second iron law is that the data are insufficient.

One of the classic critiques of econometric practice is Ed Leamer's Specification Searches, a book that I highly recommend.

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CATEGORIES: Economic Methods

COMMENTS (2 to date)
Greg Ransom writes:

The truly twisted thing is that Leamer still identifies the econometric pseudo-science with "science" and he somehow thinks alternative causal explanations of the sort Darwinian biologists uses to account for adaptations are mere literature, a kind of English department story telling.

The economics profession won't advance much until it gets beyond this sickness where causal explanations are identified with fiction and pseudo-scientific uses of statistics are identified with "true science".

El Presidente writes:

Good point.

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