Economists: egotistical autistic nasties or just smarter and after the truth?

This posting on Greg Mankiw’s blog has the distinction of making me read it all the way to the end of its comments (as of about two-three minutes ago). The posting is dominated by an email from a medical resident who attends regularly inter-disciplinary seminars in which economists mingle with statisticians, sociologists, epidemiologists, physicians, and anthropologists. The email goes on to make several observations about the behavior of economists at such seminars, and quotes an economist who participated in at least one of the seminars and who gives a very self-satisfied view of the nature and intellectual acuity of economists. What better way of starting a big fight online than to assert that economists are simply smarter and more true searchers for truth than other social scientists? And how about saying that economists are less likely to have an agenda than other social scientists, who do advocacy of causes rather than science? Phew. You see why I read all the comments.

Will I point this posting out to my principles of economics students this coming year? Perhaps, but perhaps only to the honors class. I will most certainly mention it to my graduate students.

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