April 23, 2003

Alexander Gerschenkron on Criticism

From The Fly-Swatter. I need to have this printed up on cards and handed out:

Alexander Gerschenkron: Let me have your criticism, general and particular, and let me have it promptly.... Criticisms are to be submitted in the form "I suggest the following change" never in the form: "This does not make sense" or similar..

Posted by DeLong at April 23, 2003 08:46 PM | TrackBack


It's great to propose a change to improve a theory, a methodology, etc. Lawyers often make this same request of their colleagues. That said, sometimes the best is the enemy of the good. Sometimes you see there's an inconsistentcy in the theory or the data but don't yet know how to fix it. Surely it was good to know facts inconsistent with Newton's physics as applied to planetary and larger motions. Surely it was good to know anamolies that came to be explained by Darwin's theory of natural selection. Etc.

Posted by: march coleman on April 24, 2003 06:43 AM

A noble idea, but I have to ask: did this guy ever have to grade any significant amount of undergraduate writing?


OK, so I also admit I had to look the guy up, and I found
the "Gerschenkron Effect" to be a pretty cute discovery. I infer that Soviet Planners took advantage of this a lot, but I believe that so have many American politicians in recent decades. So I wonder why Paul Krugman hasn't brought up this parallel.

Posted by: Jonathan King on April 25, 2003 12:34 PM
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