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European Tribune - What happened to the scientific process?
Morgan Stanley's chief econom propagand-ist

For that is what bank economists are. Media chaff.

The WSJ too, since the early '70s, has been devoted to ultra-liberal propaganda.

As for peer review and scientific process, that is a serious problem. The steady privatisation of research over the last decades, the hold of big money on access to funding, are probably the main issue. Like media folk, scientists don't want to step on the wrong toes. The notion that science is free from ideology and politics is a fantasy, since scientific practice is subject to power relations.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 9th, 2013 at 01:07:07 PM EST
" The notion that science is free from ideology and politics is a fantasy, since scientific practice is subject to power relations. "

Well, perhaps, but I'm not even talking about the substance of his conclusions (which are wrong, of course), but he backs them with something that is a crass misuse of data. I really am not exaggerating when saying that it would not take me five seconds to spot it.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sat Mar 9th, 2013 at 01:25:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point concerns those who are peer-reviewing and publishing. Those who committed the "study" are simply propagandists.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 9th, 2013 at 05:00:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"those who are peer-reviewing and publishing" are, undoubtedly, concerned with avoiding heresy and being cast into the outer darkness of junior colleges. There are a good number of honest economists working in various aspects of 'the market', those where the need for realistic forecasts is far more important than the need for ideological purity. Many of these are hedge funds. There one can enjoy playing the stupidities of 'mainstream economics' against the believers. But there remains a bias against pulling back the curtain.

Those who want to get ahead likely learn to overlook and ignore the deceptions of colleagues. How much better if one can manage to really believe or to convincingly pretend to believe the dogma. If one has gone into debt to get a degree it is rather awkward not to believe what one has learned, especially if one needs to teach. This is rather like someone who has become a Doctor of Divinity only to find that they are actually an atheist. What to do if the student loan still has to be paid.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 9th, 2013 at 10:26:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not even talking about the substance of his conclusions (which are wrong, of course), but he backs them with something that is a crass misuse of data. I really am not exaggerating when saying that it would not take me five seconds to spot it.

This is what he is expected to do - serve the interests of his Church. It obviously has nothing to do with science. What comes out of investment houses is sort of like economic creationism. Any old rhetoric or device to make the followers feel confident in the dogma. This is little different than pagan priests who used to blow perfumed air through bellows out the mouths of statues of the Gods whose worship they oversaw. This was the pneuma and, when felt and sniffed by the worshipers, undoubtedly helped with the contributions to the temple.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Mar 9th, 2013 at 10:08:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The WSJ too, since the early '70s, has been devoted to ultra-liberal propaganda."

It's a bit more complicated than that; in its editorial pages yes - but, just as in this thread there's been some welcome support for honest and competent economists, instead of blanket dismissal, so Chomsky defends honest and competent journalists, and even the WSJ's news pages:

Why do the media often provide crucial information undermining established doctrine? One important reason is that journalists are no different from other people. Many are honest, dedicated, courageous people who pursue their craft with honor and admirable professional integrity. They want to find the truth, whatever it is, and to report it honestly. Sometimes they succeed, though there is plenty of filtering at the news-management level. Furthermore, those in decision-making positions in the economic, political, and ideological domains have to have a tolerably realistic picture of the world. The editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal may be mostly a comic strip, but the news pages are often excellent, and some of the best reporting in the world can be found in the London Financial Times and other business journals. In addition, the discipline of the intellectual community can be trusted to shape what appears into forms that will serve power interests, to a substantial if not overwhelming extent.

http://www.zcommunications.org/sustainer-forum-reply-by-noam-chomsky




Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sat Mar 9th, 2013 at 06:22:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the Chomsky article is from before Murdoch bought the WSJ. There were fears that he would meddle with the news section of the paper: does anybody know if this is actually happening?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Mar 10th, 2013 at 07:03:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure, But I can ask

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 10th, 2013 at 05:00:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is reminiscent of Jérôme's usual point about The Economist: that it contains useful information and analysis, even if its editorial line is militantly pro-liberal. This is not surprising: journals of record and repute like The Economist and the WSJ would not be efficient as propaganda outlets if they ceased to act as journals of record and repute. So it's entirely to be expected that certain reporting standards should be maintained.

However, with Robert Bartley's editorial tenure in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, and since, the WSJ has consistently used its stature as America's financial newspaper of record to disseminate, among the serious people that constitute its readership, radically pro-business and liberal-economic views. Chomsky here mocks the editorials as "comic strip", and yet they have carried out their function in the manufacture of an ultra-liberal common wisdom. The op-ed Cyrille refers to is just one more in a long line.

And the quality of reporting may be called in question, especially since Murdoch's takeover. According to Barry Ritholtz (yesterday) (click over there to see the headline he objects to):

Wall Street Journal Fail | The Big Picture

The Wall Street Journal was once the greatest American newspaper. Sure, the OpEd writers were insane idealogues, and there was the occasional drunk or pederast on the masthead. But overall, the quality of the writing was so good, and the objective look at business so sharp, investors could rely on it.

Today, Fox News seems to write the headlines. The influence of the partisan editorials has completely overtaken the entire paper.

In other words, to investors, it has become a gnarly mess of unreliable, EXPENSIVE partisan bias. Nothing is trustworthy on its pages anymore.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 10th, 2013 at 07:25:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Chomsky here mocks the editorials as "comic strip", and yet they have carried out their function in the manufacture of an ultra-liberal common wisdom.

Chomsky is quite capable of mocking something for its extremism AND understanding all-too-well how it functions to "manufacture ... the common wisdom" - he did write, with Herman: "Manufacturing Consent":


Now the elite media are sort of the agenda-setting media. That means The New York Times, The Washington Post, the major television channels, and so on (WSJ. TW). They set the general framework. Local media more or less adapt to their structure.

http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1992----02.htm

I'm quite prepared to accept that Murdoch's takeover will have had some negative effect on the news reporting of the WSJ; but I'm OFTEN sceptical about claims which use words like "always",  "all", "nothing" etc. So I think this is an exagerration:

"Nothing is trustworthy on its pages anymore."

A more reasonable critique, from the Columbia Journalism Review, based on some indicative stats regarding decline in length of stories, includes this:


Certainly, the Journal still does lots of top-flight work, and most stories don't need 2,500 words. But many do, and how does going short as a policy help readers understand the really important stuff like systemic problems, corporate misbehavior, business innovation, or sweeping economic change?

http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/the_shorter-form_journal.php

There is a quite reasonable reply:

http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/charts_of_the_day_wsj_story-le.php

which is not to say that it is entirely correct :-)

But I think that, as Chomsky says, and as Jerome says of the Economist, they need to be reasonably accurate because their audience needs to have at least a reasonable approximation to the facts since they're making important decisions partly on the basis of such information. If they really provide "nothing" that can be trusted they will lose an important part of their readership. Murdoch's a shrewd enough businessman to understand that.

 

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Mar 10th, 2013 at 04:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted Welch:
he did write, with Herman: "Manufacturing Consent":

Yeah. That's why I used the word "manufacture".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 10th, 2013 at 05:08:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they really provide "nothing" that can be trusted they will lose an important part of their readership.

My own view is that one can trust anyone. It is just a matter of what they can be trusted to do, say, etc.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 12th, 2013 at 02:22:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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