Romer’s Suggested Rules

Like all things in life, there’s not a single, simple explanation for why I started this blog. But part of it was the frustration of yet another online forum full of comments by too many people who didn’t read the underlying paper or study.

I understand that most of the Internet is driven by entertainment and mood affiliation and tribal identities and all of that. We post “correlation isn’t causation” not because we’re trying to educate anyone or further a discussion but because we’re bored and it passes the time. There is probably also a large dose of Tyler Cowen’s hypothesis about the true role of media. By taking part in online discussions we become part of the media and our goal becomes raising or lowering the status of individuals or groups, rather than some quest for truth and knowledge

My suggested rules:

1. If you are interested in a paper, read it.
2. If you want to blog about what is in a paper, read it.

It also isn’t fair to suggest that everyone has to read every academic study they see a news story about.

This blog is my attempt to (try to) suspend my rush to judgment. To read in depth. For me, that usually means playing around with something, by rebuilding it, to understand it.

Last week Paul Romer made available a working paper, “The Trouble With Macroeconomics” which led to a lot of commentary and now his reply to some of that commentary.

What I liked the most was the ending part:

one blogger claimed to have only skimmed my paper, then made a few statements about what he thought it said, and then writes about something else. I guess I should be flattered to be used as click-bait, but I’m not.

My suggested rules:

1. If you are interested in a paper, read it.
2. If you want to blog about what is in a paper, read it.

There is a strange twilight zone where someone can be so interested in a topic that they must leave a comment on the Internet after reading an executive summary about it but they’re not interested enough to spend 30 minutes reading a paper.

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