Fake Portuguese economist unmasked

This post was written by Philip Lane

From the Guardian Blog (via Greg Mankiw): here.

18 Responses to “Fake Portuguese economist unmasked”

  1. Michael Hennigan - Finfacts Says:

    This isn’t surprising: confidence, a lexicon of buzzwords and interviewers out of their depth, helps.

    Louis Menand, a renowned author and Harvard academic, wrote in ‘The New Yorker’ in 2005: “Our system of expertise is completely inside out: it rewards bad judgments over good ones.” In a review of the book: ‘Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?’ by Philip Tetlock, he wrote, “that people who make prediction their business - - people who appear as experts on television, get quoted in newspaper articles, advise governments and businesses, and participate in punditry roundtables - - are no better than the rest of us. When they’re wrong, they’re rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. They insist that they were just off on timing, or blindsided by an improbable event, or almost right, or wrong for the right reasons.”

    Professor Tetlock conducted a 20+ year study of 284 professional forecasters. He asked them to predict the probability of various occurrences both within and outside of their areas of expertise. Analysis of the 80,000+ forecasts found that experts are less accurate predictors than non-experts in their area of expertise.

    Tetlock’s conclusion: when seeking accuracy of predictions, it is better to turn to those like “(Isaiah) Berlin’s prototypical fox, those who know many little things, draw from an eclectic array of traditions, and accept ambiguity and contradictions.” Ideological reliance on a single perspective appears detrimental to one’s ability to successfully navigate vague or poorly-defined situations (which are more prevalent today than ever before).

    Alan Greenspan’s apology

    http://youtu.be/1bX_vhojH8c

  2. bazza Says:

    It’s pretty difficult to distinguish an imposter from a bunch of charlatans…

  3. John Corcoran Says:

    We have our own large stable of soft-landing economists–some representing estate agents like SherryFitzgerald and CBRE and the various banks, all still gamefully employed and forecasting the future.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzNO4u8AU3Y

  4. Brian Woods Snr Says:

    @ bazza: “It’s pretty difficult to distinguish an imposter from a bunch of charlatans…”

    Now, I wonder why? We’ve been here before: its the ‘Dr Fox Effect’.

    @ MH: ” …and interviewers out of their depth, …”

    This is a serious deficiency. They may well be excellent reporters or journalists, but attempting to grasp and hold a well-oiled political eel - who refuses to answer questions is another matter indeed. The broadcast media are only interested in 30 sec sound-bites. Any interviewer (apart from Vinny-U-Know-Who) who attempted to ‘grill’ a politician would be ‘quickly ‘re-assigned.

    Seriously, an economics education might not be a good place to start for one to come to a well-grounded understanding of the current economic and financial mess. One is ‘outside the tent’, so to speak. Eclectic reading and persistent study will suffice.

  5. Tim O'Halloran Says:

    @MH

    5 years into the crisis, the laziness of Irish journalists is mind boggling. Given 5 years you would think some of them would have opened the odd economics book, but there is no evidence of that at all. Listening to some interviews is cringe-worthy.

    Sometimes I play a game, trying to imagine what the interviewrer understands by the mindless spin put out by a minister, like watching Fr. Ted trying to figure out Fr. Dougal’s thinking process.

    Another thing I watch out for is the fearless interviewer, in an aggressive tone, aks the minister a totally useless question that has an obvious evasion path. This trick allows honour to preserved all round. You wonder if the whole thing is pre-agreed.

  6. ramanujohn Says:

    “Fake economist”
    Tautology or oxymoron?

  7. grumpy Says:

    1. Everybody who links to this site using the comments feed sees this, for example

    “Comment on Fake Portuguese economist unmasked by Brian Woods Snr”

    Is there a commentor called “jove!” yet? I”m thinking of using it myself.

    2. Clearly the guy was telling porkies about his CV, but it raises an interesting question, particularly in light of the fact he obviously talked as much sense as many ‘expert’ people who didn’t tell said porkies:

    What exactly is a “fake economist”?. What is “an economist”?

    3. @Michael H

    Grumpy’s 4th Law of Politics: An expert is someone who knows at least 5% more than the person he is talking to.

    The bar, obviously, is set by the interviewer in the mainstream media.

  8. Paul Ferguson Says:

    @ Tim O’Halloran

    I totally agree that some journalists could do a better job. Most of them, and indeed many economists, don’t understand where money comes from. Pauline Skypala wrote an article on 20th January in the FT recently expressing this quite well. She wrote:

    ”There are fierce differences of opinion over how money is created…it is odd that such questions even arise”

    A full list of articles dealing with the issue of how money is created and destroyed can be found at:

    http://www.sensiblemoney.ie/literature/#articles

  9. Shay Begorrah Says:

    Populist astrologer uncovered as fake, does not even understand basic Zodiacal influences.

    We asked Grigori Famutin, one of the worlds foremost Astrologers, how he thought people had been taken in.

    Though concepts like “conservation of fortune”, “rational divinations” and “class predestination” are the foundations of neoclassical Astrology and are accepted as common sense by anyone with smooth hands and an accountant the implications are uncomfortable for many of the those born under the wrong conjunction of Jupiter and Mars.

    Many neoclassical astrologers had thought that with the move towards micro-tarot foundations the debate about the internal consistency of astrology was coming to an end. However the consistent, unexpected and disappointing failure of fate to match horoscopes has now raised serious question in many of their minds as to whether Mammon has been angered by a lack of sacrifices.

    To that end there are suggestions that Ireland is to increase the number of peasants burned to death in cash bonfires in the annual March festival of the bondholders.

    In other news the European Coven Bureau has released a new paper on how the kindness multiplier is less than one, and that even if it was not, cruelty is the only way to survive in an increasingly cruel world.

  10. Joseph Ryan Says:

    Fake or real?

    As Dorothy Parker said on hearing of the death of Calvin Coolidge
    “How could they tell”

    It clearly was not discernible form anything he was saying.

  11. seafóid Says:

    @ Tim O Halloran

    Simon Carswell of the IT before he left for the US

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2012/1219/1224327997049.html

    “Writing about the likes of credit default swaps for financially literate readers was one thing but explaining complex matters of banking to lay readers meant understanding it first (obviously) and writing about it clearly and in a way that you would not lose the reader by the third paragraph.”

    I didn’t get the impression there were many in the IT who knew what was going on . The sports department would be on top of their subjects, however.

  12. seafóid Says:

    @ Tim O Halloran

    Simon Carswell of the IT before he left for the US

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2012/1219/1224327997049.html

    “Writing about the likes of credit default swaps for financially literate readers was one thing but explaining complex matters of banking to lay readers meant understanding it first (obviously) and writing about it clearly and in a way that you would not lose the reader by the third paragraph.”

    I didn’t get the impression there were many in the IT who knew what was going on . The sports department would be on top of their subjects, however.

  13. John Maynard Keynes Says:

    Theres plenty of fake economists here in Ireland. Thankfully most remain excluded from contributing to this website, apart from in the comments section of course. Who is Irelands top fake economist I wonder

  14. brian lucey (@brianmlucey) Says:

    JMK
    Excluded is such a strange word. When this blog was set up some were invited, and didnt accept; others were not invited. Since then some of the invited have uninvited, others have become invited.
    Personally, i wasnt invited. Nor did I ever feel the need to be so. If your really interested in what makes an economist see here irishbusinessblog.com (hint - its not math…)

  15. Shay Begorrah Says:

    That is a worthwhile post Mr Lucey (Pretending to be an economist- not really such a bad thing?).

    The math envy/micro foundations trend in economics has been a waste of time and an encouragement for various types of political reactionary, its advocates seem convinced that the failure of the economy to follow the models means that the economy need to be modified. Fiscal rules, “independent” central banks and all the other baggage of ordoliberalism follow.

  16. John Maynard Keynes Says:

    @brian lucey

    Hmmm, you’re obviously trying to imply you declined the opportunity? Or am I mistaken

    Personally Im disappointed so many of Ireland’s leading economists are excluded from the conversation. Surely there must be room for left field names like trinity adjunct professor constantin gurgdiev, head of research at columbanus asset management, David McWilliams, and others of their ilk

    But why stop there . Fintan o toole, John waters and others have plenty of media commentators have plenty to contribute. Perhaps a new forum could include other voices from the world of politics, or anyone else. We shouldn

  17. brian lucey (@brianmlucey) Says:

    JMK
    nope, never got the email….bloody college spam filters..
    SB
    Thanks. The aim at ibb is to look at the things from the perspective of business schools. As the sargent in Dragnet used to say “just the facts”. And zero ideology (well, multiple in howling conflict). And zero trollpuppets ad hom-ining. Come on in an comment.

  18. John Maynard Keynes Says:

    @brian

    so you weren’t invited then, were you?

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