Ten commandments for economists
1/ Economics is a collection of models; cherish their diversity.
2/ It’s a model, not the model.
3/ Make your model simple enough to isolate specific causes and how theyr work, but not so simple that it leaves out key interactions among causes.
4/ Unrealistic assumptions are OK; unrealistic critical assumptions are not OK.
5/ The world is (almost) always second best.
6/ To map a model to the real world you need explicit empirical diagnostics, which is more craft than science.
7/ Do not confuse agreement among economists for certainty about how the world works.
8/ It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’ when asked about the economy or policy.
9/ Efficiency is not everything.
10/ Substituting your values for the public’s is an abuse of your expertise.
Ten commandments for non-economists
1/ Economics is a collection of models with no predetermined conclusions; reject any arguments otherwise.
2/ Do not criticise an economist’s model because of its assumptions; ask how the results would change if certain problematic assumptions were more realistic.
3/ Analysis requires simplicity; beware of incoherence that passes itself off as complexity.
4/ Do not let maths scare you; economists use maths not because they’re smart, but because they’re not smart enough.
5/ When an economist makes a recommendation, ask what makes him/her sure the underlying model applies to the case at hand.
6/ When an economist uses the term ‘economic welfare’, ask what s/he means by it.
7/ Beware that an economist may speak differently in public than in the seminar room.
8/ Economists don’t (all) worship markets, but they know better how they work than you do.
9/ If you think all economists think alike, attend one of their seminars.
10/ If you think economists are especially rude to noneconomists, attend one of their seminars.