Monday, March 8, 2010

P (Agreement | Different Epistemologies) < 0.5

. Monday, March 8, 2010

"Scott Wedman" kills the "Great Quant/Qual Debate of 2010" in a guest post at Abu's place by saying almost exactly what I said, but more succinctly and with more grace. If Abu had taken that tack originally there would have been no disagreement from anyone. Nobody thinks that quant analysis is flawless or that qual research is worthless; just that it has a lot to offer if done well.

As for humor... I don't think anyone missed anything. I don't think Abu would've been criticized by any of us if his post had been obviously humorous, and a few of us would've linked to it approvingly in that case. Abu was trying to cheekily make a substantive point, and the criticisms directed at him were at the substance, not the cheekiness*. It wasn't in good humor at all, or certainly didn't come across that way, since he's made very clear in the past how little use he has for quant/formal research. Considering that he's yet to point out which parts of his manifesto were sincere and which he was just joking about, I'm forced to think he's pulling the whole "Tell-an-offensive-joke-then-claim-you-were-kidding-when-people-get-offended" card. As Joshua Foust said in comments, "Just own it and move on, and people will care a lot less."

Anyway, now that we're all in agreement I'd like to encourage Exum to actually engage with the IR literature on his blog rather than ignoring it. If he thinks it's deficient, perhaps he can explain why and thereby improve the quality of research. If he thinks that there are applicable takeaways for policymakers, then his position as a leading policy blogger can help spread the word. It takes a bit more effort to be constructive, but that's where the value is. And if he did that on a regular basis then any broader criticisms he makes about the discipline will be better received. I doubt he'll take me up on that, but I'd be pleased if he did.

*Except for my point that, given the abject failure of policymakers who rely on their personal experience and "knowledge of a region" to make policy, I'd be hesitant to accuse quants of being full of hubris if I were him.


P (Agreement | Different Epistemologies) < 0.5
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