“Academic Choice Theory” in Political Science?

There is a rather brilliant satire on the Naked Capitalism blog about how the incentives (positive feedback loops) create a systemic bias among economists to expound theories that support the status quo or the biggest wallets. Sortition and rotation of economists is suggested as a remedy.

What kinds of proposals could help to minimize value destruction by academic economists? You are quite right that from the point of view of the public this issue looms large. Even in most Western democracies, more than half of the total GDP is allocated according to principles promoted by agents subject to Academic Choice dynamics, i.e. economists. One simple remedy to the large negative externalities generated through their academic entrepreneurship could be to shrink the size of the sector of academic economists.

Another approach is indicated by the game theoretic insight that winning strategies in competitive games usually involve a random element. Following this principle, ever since antiquity trials have been decided by juries who are chosen by lot. We should therefore strongly consider periodically repopulating economics departments with people selected at random.

I wonder how many political scientists see a kind of “academic choice theory” in operation in the profession?

One Response

  1. > I wonder how many political scientists see a kind of “academic choice theory” in operation in the profession?

    As in the field of economics, pointing out the self-serving bias in political science would be severely frowned upon.

    The bias is nicely demonstrated by the way Schumpeterian-style elite theories of electoralism fell out of favor at the same time that elitism fell out of ideological favor.


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