Here are two of the objections to Saturday’s “More Reasons to Call Off the Reinhart-Rogoff Witch Hunt” from a commenter (on Seeking Alpha) who contributed a competing list of “pet peeves” to counter my list:
- That anybody now talks about debt and causation now without addressing Arin Dube’s finding. He hypothesized that if high debt causes low growth, high debt should be more strongly correlated with slow growth in future years than past years. Instead, high debt was much more strongly correlated with past years than future years: http://bit.ly/Y12H6E
- Preying upon ignorance. Laypeople, policy-makers, and the media often assume that published research must be peer-reviewed. If you are talking to them about work that isn’t, you probably should disclose that little detail upfront as well.
I’ve seen these same two points all over the web. Let’s think about them.
I’ve argued that RR’s critics are on nothing more than a witch hunt, and in response, they insist that RR “preyed upon ignorance” by not disclosing that their paper wasn’t peer reviewed. I’m guessing the comment is right in that RR aren’t likely to have disclosed this “upfront.” They probably don’t begin every conversation with “Please ignore my research because it wasn’t peer reviewed.” Or maybe they do – I don’t follow them around and really don’t know.
Because we can’t be sure, how can we satisfy RR’s critics and make sure this doesn’t happen again? Should we make a stamp for the American Economic Review, so they can put marks on the foreheads of all Papers and Proceedings authors? And the same stamp for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Journal of Economic Perspectives, since their authors aren’t peer reviewed, either? (h/t reader “Mike” on Marginal Revolution.)
Oh wait, the author touted by the pro-stimulus lobby all last week and linked in the first bullet point above would need a stamp, too, since his work wasn’t peer reviewed. And I didn’t see the “not peer reviewed” disclosure on any of those sites.
Maybe I’m right about that witch hunt, after all.
Witch hunt also witch-hunt
An investigation carried out ostensibly to uncover subversive activities but actually used to harass and undermine those with differing views. (The Free Dictionary by Farlex)
An intensive effort to discover and expose disloyalty, subversion, dishonesty, or the like, usually based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence. (Dictionary.com)