Thinking Like an Economist

Previous research indicates that the more years of education a person has, the more he thinks like an economist. A new paper (summarized by the BPS Research Digest) by Bryan Caplan and Stephen C. Miller, however, attempts to separate the role of intelligence and education in “thinking like an economist.” Caplan and Miller found that “the estimated effect of education sharply falls after controlling for intelligence. In fact, education is driven down to second place, and intelligence replaces it at the top of the list of variables that make people ‘think like economists.’ Thus, to a fair degree education is proxy for intelligence, though there are some areas – international economics in particular -where education still dominates.” [%comments]

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  1. Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team says:

    When time or money is not an unlimited resource, Economics is the Science of saying NO.

    We realize our limitations of resources as we gain maturity and responsibility. Everything else is magical thinking.

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  2. Eric M. Jones says:

    I could be wrong…but it looks like a couple of conservative quasi-eggheads trying to show that politically conservative people can be intelligent without being educated.

    Another nail in the American coffin.

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  3. Carrie H. says:

    As if economists needed any more proof that they are the smartest people in the world.

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  4. Joe says:

    Do intelligent people think like economists, or are economists trained to think like intelligent people?

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  5. Ian Kemmish says:

    Well, both smart people and economists say “but on the other hand” more often than the hoi polloi.

    But only one of them means it!

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  6. Brian Potter says:

    I read the abstract and the introduction to the paper, which explain the basic premise: the public and economists have different beliefs about economics in terms of how it works and the likely economic future. I notice that nowhere in either the abstract or introduction does it allow the possibility that the general public perception is correct. It immediately assumes the economists are right.
    “Absent an empirically sound explanation for expert bias on the part of economists, the belief gap appears to be the result of the public’s systematic bias.” Where is the possibility that the gap is a result of economists’ systematic bias?
    “The importance is difficult to overstate; if the public has systematically biased beliefs about economics, sound economic policy will frequently lack popular support.” If economists have systematically biased beliefs about economics (or the public!), sound economic policy is an oxymoron. Is there proof that economists do not have systematically biased beliefs about the value of economics?

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  7. Lord says:

    Ah, but isn’t the question whether they think like intelligent economists or like shallow ones? Isn’t the difference between penetrating astute observation reflection and thought and reflexive non thinking answers bent to promote a political agenda?

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  8. frasier crane says:

    apologies for sounding snarky and not to denigrate the study, but you can replace “economics” with any academic discipline.

    make a hypothesis, look at the facts. re-examine/adjust hypothesis. repeat.

    this is the foundation for the advancement of human knowledge but seems to be incredibly lacking in today’s America.

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