Phi Beta Cons

On GMU and ‘Interesting Economics’

Doublethink has an interesting article about George Mason University’s libertarian-leaning economics department. The school specializes in “interesting economics” – counterintuitive theories about pretty much everything.

We should celebrate anything that makes the field more attractive, of course, provided it doesn’t come at the expense of academic rigor. “Interesting economics” also can apply economic logic to everyday problems, making us all better off.
One misgiving I have, though, is that it challenges economists to come up with the most offensive or outlandish theories possible, and then stick to them even if they’re proven wrong. See, for example, Steven Levitt’s “abortion cut crime” theory, or read my review of Steven Landsburg’s More Sex is Safer Sex (in which he actually posits that the government should run a dating service, and charge used condoms as admission).


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