Sunday, June 29, 2008

Teaching the Worldview First

An op-ed in the NYT by two neuroscientists says:

Adding to this innate tendency to mold information we recall is the way our brains fit facts into established mental frameworks. We tend to remember news that accords with our worldview, and discount statements that contradict it.
This is hardly breaking news, but it strikes at the heart of my central criticism of the way economics is taught. In economics, the worldview is taught first. Professors teach students the basic neoclassical model first, with its assumptions of complete information, efficient financial intermediation, a full set of competitive markets for all goods and services, etc. As the economics courses get more advanced, the neoclassical model is augmented and expanded upon to more accurately represent the real world. The problem, as should be obvious, is that by the time students get to the more advanced courses—assuming they get to the advanced courses at all, which most students probably don't—they believe that the basic neoclassical model is a much more accurate representation of the real world than it actually is. (When I got to graduate school, I thought my economics education was pretty far advanced; as it turned out, I didn't know shit.) In other words, if a student who has just taken Econ 101 is presented with two pieces of evidence, one supporting and one contradicting the claim that more government regulation of the market for tomatoes would enhance efficiency, the student would be much more inclined to believe the evidence contradicting the claim that more government regulation of the tomato market would enhance efficiency. (Now, it's possible that the evidence against more government regulation of the tomato market is more likely to be true, but the point is that the Econ 101 student would assign a greater probability to the chances of that evidence being true than is warranted.) Teaching students first that markets are totally awesome and basically always efficient unduly slants their worldview toward believing that markets are infallible. Once that worldview is established, it becomes harder and harder to convince students that sometimes markets aren't totally awesome. This is why I've always said that the most dangerous employee is the economics minor. Avoid them at all costs.


Anonymous said...

I've found that most people badly underestimate the 'awesomeness' of markets, and equally badly overestimate the ability of government to regulate markets well.

Was Ted Williams a bad baseball player because he failed to get a basehit twice as often as he succeeded? Or, was he an awesome baseball player because he succeeded at a rate almost un-exceded by anybody else who tried to do the same thing

Economics of Contempt said...

You're right. Most people do badly underestimate the awesomeness of markets. I didn't make it very clear, but my point was that economics students tend to overestimate the awesomeness of markets. Economics students are certainly closer to the mark than the general public, but I think their views are still skewed on the whole.

More specifically, I think econ students underestimate how many things need to go right for a market to achieve optimal efficiency. They tend to think only a handful of assumptions need to hold to achieve optimal efficiency, when in reality countless assumptions need to hold. The real world is incredibly complex: no two markets are identical, and each market provides a different incentive structure.

Anonymous said...

I think econ students underestimate how many things need to go right for a market to achieve optimal efficiency.

Again, compared to what? How many things have to go right for government regulation to achieve optimal efficiency?

For the tax system to do the same?

Anonymous said...

If you lose your way, your forever friend guides you and cheers you on Diablo iii Gold, if you turn and walk away, your forever friend follows Buy Diablo iii Gold, your forever friend gets you through the hard times, the sad times, and the confused times Cheap Diablo iii Gold.

Anonymous said...

The ordinary bat that flies around at night, who is a remarkable nim in the air, cannot take off from a level place aion gold, if it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is to shuffle about helplessly and aion gold, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash aion gold.

Unknown said...

Bạn đang thắc mắc tinh trung yeu nen uong thuoc gi, điều trị vô sinh hiếm muộn như thế nào hay
dan ong an gi de tinh trung khoe. Hãy tham khảo bài viết trên của chúng tôi để đưa ra quyết định chính xác nhất.
Bạn là phụ nữ Châu Á ao ước muốn cho 1 làn da trắng mịn màn, hãy sử dụng sản phẩm thuốc viên làm trắng da Ivory Caps hoặc có thể sử dụng sản phẩm nước Lột da Collagen nhé
Những sản phẩm được những người Nhật Bản ưa chuộng nhất nay đã có tại Việt Nam như fucoidan giúp điều trị ung thư hiệu quả
Nấm linh chi nhật bản

mua thuoc tot said...

Giảm cân có nhiều cách , nhưng cách giảm cân bằng ăn các loại thức ăn được nhiều người dùng đến , món ăn giúp giảm cân, thực đơn giảm cân cấp tốc sẽ giúp bạn có được thân hình đẹp và thon gọn. Khó ngủ hiện nay đang gặp phải ở rất nhiều người , cả già và trẻ .bi kho ngu phai lam sao ? Có nhiều cách trị khó ngủ .Gan là bộ phận lọc các chất độc trong cơ thể người , chính vì vậy việc giải độc gan rất quan trọng . thuốc giải độc gan tốt sẽ giúp bạn có được gan khỏe mạnh . Collagen giúp trẻ hóa làn da và ngăn ngừa các nếp nhăn , kéo dài tuổi thanh xuân, thực phẩm có nhiều collagen sẽ giúp bạn có được làn da đẹp và trẻ mỗi ngày . Ăn các loại các thực phẩm tốt cho mắt sẽ giúp mắt sáng và khỏe mạnh hơn.

jaring pengaman said...

Nice article, thanks for the information. It's very complete information. I will bookmark for next reference
jaring futsal | jaring golf | jaring pengaman proyek |
jaring pengaman bangunan | jaring pengaman gedung

Fire Ball said...

Nếu bạn đang đi tìm trung tâm điện máy cũ ở tphcm. Thì hãy ghé vào shop thằng ghờm. Nếu bạn cần mua tủ lạnh cũ, máy lạnh cũ tiết kiệm điện hay mua máy giặt cũ hcm. Hãy đến với shop thằng ghờm chúng tôi đảm bảo bạn sẽ hài lòng và tìm được sản phẩm bạn cần mua.

Ngôi nhà kiến thức là nơi tổng hợp kiến thức những kiến thức hữu ích như từ viết tắt fa là gì, www là gì, atsm là gì... Hãy đến để cập nhật kiến thức nhé.

aliyaa said...

I definitely appreciate mba application consultant because we serious have no idea about choosing subject for our career. So always prefer the best consultant.