False arguments against economist's views

I've been listening to this great podcast with Bryan Caplan about his new book The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (interview with co-blogger Trent McBride here). Just heard a great bit where they talked about how economists and random people have consistently different views on economic questions. But does this mean that economists are right? Well, in most sciences, we presume that the expert is more likely to be correct than the layperson. Why would this be false for economists?

There are two standard explanations: 1) Economists are rich white men, and their self-interest leads them to beliefs which favor rich white men. 2) Economists are libertarians/conservatives, and so they tend to believe the conservative party line.

Both of these are testable, and both are false. When you control for age, gender, income, education, etc., you account for only 18% of the economist / layperson belief gap. And when you control for political party, the gap gets slightly bigger - because the average economist is a moderate Democrat. It's understandable that one might not realize this since the internet is full of proselytizing libertarians, but it turns out to be the case.

Which doesn't prove that economists are right, of course, but does at least buttress the case.

BTW, Will Wilkinson had an interesting bit about one of the biases Caplan identifies - the pessimism bias. Compared to regular people, economists (and libertarians) are much more likely to think that things have gotten better and are getting better. This leads to some of the regulatory differences - if you don't think there is a problem, then you also won't think government needs to provide a solution.

Anyway, the interesting part is this as a partial explanation for why libertarians tend to be skeptical of global warming. We're so used to hearing bogus alarmism that we automatically disbelieve any claim of a crisis paired with an explanation of why government needs to fix it. Of course, sometimes there really is a wolf, and libertarians should make sure not to take their learned skepticism too far.

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economic science

"Just heard a great bit where they talked about how economists and
random people have consistently different views on economic questions.
But does this mean that economists are right? Well, in most sciences,
we presume that the expert is more likely to be correct than the
layperson. Why would this be false for economists?"

The view of many scientists I've encountered is that this is false for economists because economics is not science but pseudoscience.