星期四, 8月 23, 2007

讀書手札: Interview with James J. Heckman

Interview with James J. Heckman

(Well, it seems that he is not a fan of a currently best-selling book in economics.)

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...In economics there's a trend now to come up with cute papers in an effort to be cited as many times as possible. All the incentives point that way, specially for young professors who seem risk-averse rather than risk-taking after they get tenure. In some quarters of our profession, the level of iscussion has sunk to the level of a New Yorker article: coffee-table articles about “cute” topics, papers using “clever” instruments. The authors of these papers are usually unclear about the economic questions they ddress, the data used to support their conclusions and the econometrics used to ustify their estimates. This is a sad development that I hope is a passing fad. Most of this work is without substance, but it makes a short-lived splash and it's easy to do. Many young economists are going for the cute and the clever at the expense of working on hard and important foundational problems.

I feel it's far more important to do good work, important work on basic problems and to do it very well. That is the work that lasts. Along with the enormous freedom academics have to explore ideas and read and write, we have a huge responsibility to do our work well. So I try to do that. And I'd have to say that if anything, the pace of my research is accelerating because I understand more what is not known and what needs to be known.

~James J. Heckman