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Sad to see EphBlog favorite Jennifer Doleac ’03 participate in this sort of mindless credentialism.


Doleac retweeted this post so, presumably, her pretensions with regard to the term “economist” applies to “historians” as well. Perhaps we should introduce her to some of her fellow Ephs!

How about historian Michael Beschloss ’77, who not only lacks a Ph.D. in history. He wasn’t even a history major at Williams! If Doleac isn’t going to complain when Williams College itself calls Beschloss a “historian”, then she has no business complaining when other people call non-econ Ph.D.’s “economists.”

How about Dan Drezner ’90, called an “economist” by NPR? Does Doelac not think that we should listen to Drezner about economics because his Ph.D. is in political science?

True Ephs judge people by the quality of their work. You are what you do. You are not (just) the fancy letters after your name on your CV.

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#1 Comment By sigh On June 2, 2016 @ 2:23 pm

Meanwhile, in actually interesting things from the impressive Professor Doleac (03!), while at Brookings, she’s written about ban the box and the unintended consequences (that also help prove the box was really a proxy for racial discrimination):

and gun violence:

also, Dan Drezner is not an economist. He’s a political scientist. that is a distinction with meaning and the elision of other social scientists into economist is part of the problem of the myopia of media toward only that one social science. And the original tweet from Stan Veuger might explain that comment a lot. this post sucks.

#2 Comment By JAS On June 2, 2016 @ 2:59 pm

How about a link to the tweet itself rather than an annoying screenshot?

#3 Comment By dcat On June 2, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

I guess in theory I’m with Dave here inasmuch as some of these claims of “credentialism” seems pretty small-minded. But I should think that professions decide their own standards of admission. Beschloss is not Leuchtenburg, but sure, he’s a historian. I’m happy to have him in our club. But I guess the question is, what does it take to be an economist? Or, more to the point, what do economists say is the standard for admission?

It is easy to dismiss something as “credentiaism”, a nifty little insult toward people who ask for credentials. But I want my lawyers, doctors, CPA’s, and so forth to have proper credentials. Can someone just call themselves a “lawyer” without these credentials? Can they conduct surgery? Can they do your taxes?

I don’t know if economists ask for those credentials. And as someone with a history PhD but in good standing as a member of the American Political Science Association (though I would never call myself a political scientist) I am all about allowing for interdisciplinary. But I should think that there must be some standard. Or can I just call myself a physicist?

But this whole post seems really petty. I guess that’s my problem with Ephblog of late. It all just seems so … petty. There are so many axes being ground. And I would bet it is why there is so little commentary these days.

#4 Comment By David Dudley Field ’24 On June 2, 2016 @ 7:34 pm

> I guess that’s my problem with Ephblog of late. It all just seems so … petty.

Easy to fix! Critics like you and Sigh and others should step up and post stuff. I would be eager to take some days/weeks/months off.

> Or can I just call myself a physicist?

The issue is Doleac’s complaint about the fact that any old reporter can describe someone as “economist” even if Doleac does not agree.

It is not clear to me what her proposed solution is. The State abrogates to itself the right to decide (or delegates to various professional organizations that right) who may claim to be lawyer. Do any of us what the same system for “economist?”

I am happy to leave it to the person and to the reporter describing the person. Perhaps the issue of transgenderism is relevant. If Derek tells a reporter that he is actually female (i.e., that is true gender is different from his birth gender), then I think that the reporter should use the pronoun she in referring to Derek. If Derek tells a reporter than he is a physicist, then I have no problem with a reporter describing Derek as a physicist.

Of course, I may (silently!) think some other thoughts about the reliability of that reporter and discount his other claims accordingly . . .

#5 Comment By Williams Alum On August 19, 2016 @ 2:13 pm

Take a day off! Take weeks off! Take months off! I see you are eager to do so. We won’t mind, really. This seems to be to be the best strategy to recruit other writers, as you so often desire. Just stop posting daily, and if this leaves some huge void in people’s lives, I think they will step in. Any reason not to?