Early Monday Smackdown: Why Jack Shafer Should Have Retired from Journamalism Decades Ago
Links for the Week of January 31, 2016

The Archives: January 25-31, 2016

The pick of the litter:

Additional picks of the litter:

From One Year Ago:

From Two Years Ago:

From Five Years Ago:

From Ten Years Ago:

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Washington Post Digs Itself in Deeper Department): Ah. More mendacity this morning from the editors of the Washington Post... * Getting to Fat Tuesday a Century Ago * Some of the News That's Fit to Print (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?: Jack Shafer Edition) * Sunday Morning Theology Blogging: Is Tom Waits More Merciful than God? * Francisco Franco Is Still Dead! * The Secret History of 1998 * Sociology of Journalism: Jeff Leen, assistant managing editor of the Washington Post investigative unit, says that the late David Rosenbaum's April 3, 2002 story on Jack Abramoff was 'a puff piece,' 'viewed by [Jack] Abramoff as positive.'

From Twenty Years Ago:

John Maynard Keynes: Definition of What Economics Should Be: "It seems to me that economics is a branch of logic, a way of thinking...

...and that you do not repel sufficiently firmly attempts à la Schultz to turn it into a pseudo-natural-science.... One cannot get very far except by devising new and improved models. This requires, as you say, 'a vigilant observation of the actual working of our system'. Progress in economics consists almost entirely in a progressive improvement in the choice of models. The grave fault of the later classical school, exemplified by Pigou, has been to overwork a too-simple or out-of-date model, and in not seeing that progress lay in improving the model; whilst Marshall often confused his models, for the devising of which he had great genius, by wanting to be realistic and by being unnecessarily ashamed of lean and abstract outlines.

But it is of the essence of a model that one does not fill in real values for the variable functions. To do so would make it useless as a model. For as soon as this is done, the model loses its generality and its value as a mode of thought.... Economics is a science of thinking in terms of models joined to the art of choosing models which are relevant to the contemporary world.

It is compelled to be this, because, unlike the typical natural science, the material to which it is applied is, in too many respects, not homogeneous through time. The object of a model is to segregate the semi-permanent or relatively constant factors from those which are transitory or fluctuating so as to develop a logical way of thinking about the latter, and of understanding the time sequences to which they give rise in particular cases.

Good economists are scarce because the gift for using 'vigilant observation' to choose good models, although it does not require a highly specialised intellectual technique, appears to be a very rare one.

In the second place, as against Robbins, economics is essentially a moral science and not a natural science. That is to say, it employs introspection and judgments of value.

I must stop writing. I do not expect you differ much from the above reflections, which show the lines along which your paper has set me thinking.