Friday, May 03, 2013


Scott Sumner is triumphant about the April jobs number. Monetarism has apparently now been as good as proven.

Can you imagine someone from the natural sciences putting forward a claim that a rival school (in Sumner's case, Keynesians) had been entirely vanquished on the basis of similar evidence?

Biologist Will Wintner: I have empirical evidence proving the rival school of cancer cell mutation wrong! I am triumphant!

Journal Editor: Ah, so this evidence is from repeated, duplicable laboratory experiments with tight environmental controls?

BWW: Well, no...

JE: Oh, clinical trials, then, dozens of them with hundreds of cases each and well-designed control groups?

BWW: Not exactly...

JE: So what is this evidence?

BWW: Well, I'm pretty sure I saw the mutation happening the way I think it does in nature.

JE: No control group to compare to?

BWW: Nope.

JE: No scientific control of the environment?

BWW: None whatsoever.

JE: Yes, and how many times did you see this happen?

BWW: Just once.

JE facepalms.

NB: My point is not that Sumner is wrong -- I don't know --but that this is going to be really convincing only for those who are already in his camp.


  1. In mild fairness to Scott, I think he is partly just using Krugman's own medicine against him. A bunch of Keynesians in the last few days were saying the current economy disproves market monetarism. So when the better-than-expected jobs number came out, I think Scott was just rubbing it in their faces.

  2. Perhaps the wiley Sumner's humor was too subtle for me.


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