Another post about Freakonomics: Economists Should Have a Code of Conduct

Posted on January 12, 2011

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Their latest blog post: Should economists have a code of conduct?

Yes! Absofuckinglutely! Sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster please make this happen!

I hope I’m making my position sufficiently clear.

The main argument being offered against the suggestion is that economics is a social science and that its scientific effectiveness would be hampered by unnecessary constraints. This is transparent bullshit because most sciences, especially social sciences, do have ethics codes! Scientific investigation has the potential to do a great deal of harm, so we have wisely forbidden certain kinds of research. Modern psychologists could not get away with a repeat of the Milgram experiment, no matter how badly they wanted to verify it’s conclusions. Hell, my biologist friend had to ensure that she disposed of her zebra fish humanely during her undergraduate thesis last year.

Furthermore, economics is more than just a descriptive science. It is also a normative professional discipline which has a significant role in shaping public policy. Economic mistakes and conflicts of interest can and have caused significant harm. If engineers have to take an oath to not build shitty bridges that collapse and hurt people, then why shouldn’t economists take an oath not to advocate shitty incentive structures that will cause the entire economy to collapse.

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Posted in: Economics