Designing a statistics regime for selfish economists

As my colleague David Levy points out, the economics of economists is a much neglected topic.  But there is some action on the horizon:

The role that competition among scientists will have on researcher initiative bias was discussed by Tullock (1959) who argued that competition would counteract the version of publication bias that occurs when 20 researchers each use different data sets to run the 14 same experiment but when only the one significant result gets published.  Tullock argued that in this case the other 19 researchers would come forward and discuss their insignificant results.  The conclusion Tullock drew from this is that publication bias is more likely to occur in a situation where there is a single data and 20 possible explanatory variables.  In that case, there is no obvious refutation that could be published over the false positive.  The best that can be done is to publish articles emphasizing the number of potential explanatory variables in the data set (as in Sala-I-Martin, 1997) or the fragility of the results to alternative specifications (as in Levine and Renelt, 1992).

That is from a new paper by Ed Glaeser, highly recommended.  Hat tip to New Economist blog.


Comments for this post are closed