Epistemic Public Service Announcement

Ezra notes, with apparently incredulity, that

there's no outlet in the world that publishes as many economists — and good ones, too, Nobel Prize winners — as The Wall Street Journal editorial page. We know, and many of those economists know, that that editorial page is mendacious, extremist, and intellectually sloppy. But they nevertheless publish there, lending their titles and credibility to an outlet that continually promotes a fundamentally poisonous and empirically laughable ideology.

Yes Ezra, we know you disagree with the politics of the WSJ editorial page. But I'm sure it seems to many intelligent people that the collected work of Robert Kuttner, the founder and editor of Ezra's magazine, is extremist and intellectually sloppy (if not always mendacious) and “promotes a fundamentally poisonous and empirically laughable ideology.” Yet Ezra still chooses to write for The American Prospect. And so do many perfectly respectable academics. Why? Probably because its editorial vision is closer to their views than the relevant alternatives. And, just perhaps, the economic outlook of the Journal editorial page is closer to the views of many Nobel Prize-winning economist than the relevant alternatives, as inconvenient or annoying as that fact may be to some people. Opinion pages and magazines are not scholarly journals. It's pretty tendentious to suggest that the Journal's page is singular in its transgressions against academic evidential standards.
Of course, all this opinion-mongering continues ceaselessly because there are real, substantive empirical and moral disagreements, none of which may be settled simply by humbly claiming all virtue and forcefully declaring the other guys to be bad people indifferent to the truth.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center