NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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The Lure of Incredible Certitude

Charles F. Manski

NBER Working Paper No. 24905
Issued in August 2018
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Public Economics, Political Economy

Forthright characterization of scientific uncertainty is important in principle and serves important practical purposes. Nevertheless, economists and other researchers commonly report findings with incredible certitude, reporting point predictions and estimates. To motivate expression of incredible certitude, economists often suggest that researchers respond to incentives that make the practice tempting. This temptation is the "lure" of incredible certitude. I flesh out and appraise some of the rationales that observers may have in mind when they state that incredible certitude responds to incentives. I conclude that scientific expression of incredible certitude at most has appeal in certain limited contexts. It should not be a general practice.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24905

Published: Charles F. Manski, 2020. "The lure of incredible certitude," Economics and Philosophy, vol 36(2), pages 216-245. citation courtesy of

 
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