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Gatekeepers of the economics profession

Summary:
Gatekeepers of the economics profession The power structures within the profession reinforce the mainstream in different ways, including through the tyranny of so-called top journals and academic and professional employment. Such pressures and incentives divert many of the brightest minds from a genuine study of the economy (to try to understand its workings and the implications for people) to what can only be called “trivial pursuits.” Too many top academic journals publish esoteric contributions that add value only by relaxing one small assumption in a model or using a slightly different econometric test. Elements that are harder to model or generate inconvenient truths are simply excluded, even if they would contribute to a better understanding of

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Gatekeepers of the economics profession

Secret Tactic ~ How to Get Past the Gatekeeper Using LinkedIn.The power structures within the profession reinforce the mainstream in different ways, including through the tyranny of so-called top journals and academic and professional employment. Such pressures and incentives divert many of the brightest minds from a genuine study of the economy (to try to understand its workings and the implications for people) to what can only be called “trivial pursuits.” Too many top academic journals publish esoteric contributions that add value only by relaxing one small assumption in a model or using a slightly different econometric test. Elements that are harder to model or generate inconvenient truths are simply excluded, even if they would contribute to a better understanding of economic reality. Fundamental constraints or outcomes are presented as “externalities” rather than as conditions to be addressed. Economists who talk mainly to each other, then simply proselytize their findings to policymakers, are rarely forced to question this approach.

As a result, economic forces that are necessarily complex—muddied with the impact of many different variables—and reflect the effects of history, society, and politics are not studied in light of this complexity. Instead, they are squeezed into mathematically tractable models, even if this removes any resemblance to economic reality. To be fair, some very successful mainstream economists have railed against this tendency—but with little effect thus far on the gatekeepers of the profession.

Jayathi Ghosh

Economics sure is a disgrace — the lack of diversity and pluralism discourages and often drives away talented young students.

In the 21st century, the blogosphere has without any doubt become one of the greatest channels for dispersing new knowledge and information. So when it comes to the mainstream near monopoly of academic journals we can at least see some light in the tunnel — bloggers have shown for the last two decades that it is possible to push past the old gatekeepers …

Lars Pålsson Syll
Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

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