I was going to comment on this comment by Russ Roberts

He treats it like a discovery of fact. As in “Blinder and Zandi weren’t sure of the distance between the earth and the sun but when they measured it, they found it was about 93,000,000 miles.” That isn’t the way econometrics works.

We can and should talk about this more but I would suggests that exactly how econometrics works.

After all no one has – in my jargon – taken a ruler to the sun. No one has actually trekked from the earth to the sun with a tape measure to get its distance.

Indeed no one has even been to the sun or even out of earth’s orbit. People confidently mock those who say the sun is not at the center of the solar system but has anyone been outside the solar system to look down and check? Certainly not.

All of this is based on measurement and inference. And people trust the measurements and inferences of physical scientists even when they make wild conclusions based on highly technical derivations, complex models and slight differences in obscure measurements.

Two guys screw together a few half-silvered mirrors and all of a sudden the passage of time is just a fancy illusion. Is that more convoluted than Donohue and Levitt?

Anyway, Robin Hanson makes my longer point for me

They key difference, I think, is that more interested parties see themselves as losing if the public listens to economists, and these parties therefore dispute economists in public. Such interested parties also influence individual economists, and so weaken within-economics consensus. In contrast, few care enough about what physicists say to dispute them in public.

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