Via Scott Sumner comes the question “What took the ‘con’ out of econometrics?“. I bet many people question whether that actually occurred, usually those ignorant of math and/or economics. Other ignorant people also question the application of quantitative social science to the study of violent conflict. The answer to the aforementioned question is better identification through mechanisms like randomized experiments or “natural experiments”. I mentioned some heretics who fail to pay homage to randomized trials here. Among the party-poopers is a recent commenter here, Thorfinn, in “When Numbers Fail“. My view is that people are apt to fool themselves, and numbers can provide a constraint, though given sufficient ingenuity and lack of countervailing incentives they will tend to be undermined.
On a completely different note for people more interested in medieval history & philosophy of science than numbo-jumbo, check out this.
The title of this post courtesy of Penn Jillette.
UPDATE: Most of the trackbacks I get are spam, but I don’t bother turning them off anyway. This post got an amazing 130 of them, and actually took a good deal of processing time to clear them all out. They are now off for this post.