Wednesday, March 31, 2010

economics, the obvious science

So much empirical work I keep hearing about is so dull, because it's so obvious. Some event happens with intuitive and predictable impacts, and lots of researchers looking for things to write papers about diligently prove with fancy econometric tools that they did, in fact, happen. Amazing. *yawn*

That, and the fact that it's just so darn tedious and complicated because natural experiments and available data are never perfect, is starting to turn me off of empirical work. It's awesome when you get an unexpected result like in the original Freakonomics book or the movies-and-violence thing that Stefano DellaVigna did, but you can't count on that happening.

Theory is intellectually delicious and experiments are wonderful clear-cut tools for isolating just what you want to isolate. I think I'll stick to those.