Adam Ozimek launches this odd complaint against RR:
He’s an economist who regularly complains that economics is less scientific than it thinks, and says things like he doesn’t think economists really know what much more about the world than we did 50 years ago. But then Russ also has perhaps the best economics podcast in the world where he interviews leading economists about their research. It’s true Russ often provides a voice of skepticism, pushing back and asking hard questions. It’s a great part of the podcast. But the vast majority of the time Russ is clearly having people on because he thinks we can learn from hearing about their research. He’s hardly constantly disagreeing with them like you’d expect if he thought most of what they have done doesn’t tell us anything.
It begs the question, if economists haven’t really learned anything in the last 50 years then why in the world would you spend so much time interviewing economists about their research? Why not interview economic historians about what economists were saying 50 years ago? There is a huge disconnect between Roberts’ intensely skeptical attitude when he makes sweeping statements about the field, and the content of his detailed conversations with experts, and really the entirety of his Econtalk project.
I don’t see any problem here; I agree with all of the views Ozimek attributes to Russ, and I also think Russ does a great and valuable thing with Econtalk. There’s no question-begging or other type of problem here.
Here’s a hint of why: An economist from 50 years ago would know exactly what I mean.