Don’t bother learning about this one, unless you already know what I am talking about

You know, the job market, the tweets, and the RCT, here is a complaint from Christopher Phelan.  Here is the paper.  I’ll just make a few points in hit and run fashion:

1. I am not convinced IRBs should have a say in this kind of matter, one way or the other.  (I do think they should stop professors from injecting patients with syphilis.)  In that sense I am not upset that this proceeded.

2. Given current standards (I would prefer much weaker IRBs), I don’t think this experiment should have been approved.  It corrupts a process of evaluation.

3. Consider my behavior at MR.  As you may know, every job market season I blog quite a few job market papers, and usually I will say or at least imply something positive about the candidate and the work.  (As an aside, I suppose I now think this helps them, and I was not sure before.)  I take this process very seriously, and try to look at as many job candidate web sites and papers as possible.  Toward this end, I also will look at schools of management and public policy schools, as well as large numbers of schools outside the top ten.  I wouldn’t randomize this process for the purposes of conducting an experiment.  I feel that would be unfair to the candidates, unfair to MR readers, and somehow ever so slightly corrupting the integrity of the economics job market.  I know my tastes are weird!  But they are my true tastes, and I want my readers to know that.  I would not have participated in this experiment.  In fact, I feel the experiment is ever so slightly impugning the integrity of which papers I choose to cover, because some readers might think I too am a randomizer in the fashion of this experiment.

I don’t think “learning something about the job market” suffices to make up for these problems.

4. As a practical matter, the experiment shows us that you can do relatively well looking for talent in some new or unusual places.  I agree, and Daniel Gross and I pushed that theme in our book on talent.

5. If you have read this far, I hope you heeded the title of this post.



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