Apologies if someone made this observation already..

Professional (non-DIY) science is sparse.

There are many narrow questions for which answers are needed but not available in, and not easily deducible from, the scientific literature.

If I need an answer to such a question, it may well be that my best approach is DIY science. Not because I am spectacularly free of bias (though if I do say so myself...:-)); rather because, for that particlar question, DIY science is the only game in town.

Expand full comment

No, they are not required to listen only to the experts from the prosecution and defense. To begin with, the lawyers are not expert in the topic being argued about - they are experts only in the craft of presenting a strong argument that is likely to persuade the jury. This is why lawyers bring in expert witnesses, who are experts in various aspects of the topic, rather than the advocates sitting on the witness stand themselves and acting as the experts. Second, many trials have witnesses who are simply witnesses, and not necessarily experts in anything, except possibly expert in using their senses and memory, but probably no more so than anyone else. Third, many trials have evidence, which the jury sometimes gets some chance to look at directly. Some of the evidence might be the sort that they must trust experts on (such as fingerprint evidence), but other evidence they can see with their own eyes, such as (more recently) video evidence.

Finally, in some trials, far from being forbidden to go, jurors are indeed taken to the crime scene.

Expand full comment

Yet jurors in a trial are _required_ to listen only to the experts from the prosecution and the defense. Wouldn't the analogy of DIY academics be that the jurors trek out to the crime site and check out the facts themselves -- something they are explicitly forbidden to do!

Expand full comment

There are actually lots of private sector economist jobs, which helps explain why economists get paid more than other faculty.

Expand full comment

Outside of the physical sciences, there is no way to prove anything. Its just opinion. That applies to all social science, including economics. You can try to add some math a statistics to it, but human behavior can't be understood like a chemistry reaction.

Expand full comment

Inflation is really empirical measurable and observable. It kind of hits the so-called "economists" over the head hard, its also not new to the 20th century, the Spanish caused it with big importations of silver and gold from the New World hundreds of years ago.

Regarding Mises and Hayek, a broken clock is more right at least it shows the correct time twice rather than once every day.

Expand full comment

Well said James. There is no kind of science other than DIY science. If you don't know the data and the logic that ties the data together into conclusions aka theory, you don't know the science, are not a scientist and can't have a scientific opinion. You can have an opinion that you copied from someone you think is a “scientist”, but unless you understand the science you can't have a scientific opinion.

The earlier analogy with lawyers completely misunderstands science. Lawyers are advocates for their position. They are not supposed to be neutral. If they can "win" by fooling the Judge, they are supposed to do so (provided they don't lie too much). That is not how science works.

That lawyers and politicians don't understand how science works is understandable. They are used to working with lies and trickery. That works in politics where you can fool most of the people most of the time. It doesn't work in science because you can't fool Mother Nature.

Expand full comment

What a stupid response to my comment (you're right to feel personally attacked by my earlier comment).

It's too bad, because I sort your blog as on balance usefully contrarian. It's strange to me that a mind that can weigh Steve Sailer as usefully politically incorrect if a bit to jew-focused, can't see a nuance between various expert academic subcommunities and a church vs. Roger Bacon historical narrative.

I think any fair-minded support of DIY academics has to start with the acknowledgment that most DIY academic product is shit.

Expand full comment

We had the relevant discussion seven hundred and thirty four years ago. The church lost the debate, as demonstrated by the fact that they answered Roger Bacon by throwing him into a dungeon in solitary confinement and feeding him bread and water.

DIY science is real science. Listening to the consensus of the most holy synod is not.

Roger Bacon told us how to tell truth from &#%%$#!%, Galileo issued a reminder, and Richard Feynman a lengthy clarification.

When I was taught special relativity, they, did not tell us Einstein was right because the holy consensus tells us so, they had us replicate the arguments and review the evidence that Einstein presented in "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", just as if Einstein was some patent clerk with neither PhD nor academic position.

Expand full comment

I visited Cuba, saw totalitarian terror state. An academic went to Cuba, saw a people's popular democracy.

On debating him on usenet, it became apparent that he was sincere - he was not lying, but that he considered that official truth, what people said in public, counted, and unofficial truth, what people said in private while somewhat drunk, did not count. And that what he himself saw with his merely human eyeballs did not count at all.

Expand full comment

I have positive evidence, evidence that is available only to me, that I am sane and rational. I don't have similar evidence that someone else is rational. Therefore, if someone disagrees with me, he might be crazy or lying or have access to evidence that I do not. If, however, he declines to present that evidence, as for example in the global warming debates,I should assume he is crazy or lying or both.

Expand full comment

This comment thread is notably filled with easily detectable bullshit.Too bad, often Prof. Hanson attracts some very high level comments.

I'm both for DIY academics (I think a subcategory of them are very useful as a counterweight to deformations within official academia), and I'm hugely for expert consensus calculation. I think at an intuitive level many of us "get" when a DIY contrarian is on the side of angels or on the side of demons, but I don't have a well thought out hueristic for discerning the virtue of a DIY.

We should also note epistemology experts (and epistemology expert consensus) as a sort of omsbudsman with regard to the various respective deformations and errors within subcategory expert communities, and as a process credentialing community for DIY subcategory experts.

Expand full comment

The point that you built your post around and which provides much of its seeming strength, i.e., that Vladimir proposed ignoring what experts write, was a straw man. You had read it into Vladimir's assertion, and now that he has explicitly rejected it, your response is to say "my guess was correct". A more appropriate response would surely be, "mea culpa, I will try again from scratch and try to get it right this time, sorry for wasting everyone's time."

Expand full comment

I think Tom is mistaken about the coarse timing.

You have proven no such thing. If I say that I had lunch after I had breakfast, and you discover that I had both lunch and breakfast in 2011, it does not follow that I was "mistaken about the coarse timing", because I had not made any claim about "coarse timing".

If I say that my head is above my feet, and you look five miles up in the sky and fail to find my head, you have not proven that I am "mistaken about the coarse" location of my head.

So let's look. Here's a link to a book in Google Books. I'll transcribe some text from it. Starting p. 43.

Einstein completed his dissertation on April 30, but he did not submit it to the University of Zurich for almost three months. [making the submission some time in July] ...In the summer of 1905, Einstein had an abundance of potential dissertation candidates: the March, April, May, and June papers. With the June paper rejected, Einstein picked his earlier April paper, which, he thought, was void of any novel or startling ideas that could offend his professors. In addition to the strange content of the June relativity paper, it was entirely theoretical.

So Einstein had come up with special relativity before he submitted his dissertation, and in fact special relativity was rejected as a dissertation. In fact Einstein had already produced three of his "annus mirabilis" papers (if we exclude the dissertation) before he received his doctorate, which necessarily must have happend after he submitted his dissertation, going by this evidence.

This does not prove publication, so I have not proven Tom's exact claim as stated. But the timing of writing is of key interest. If we are defining (as stubydoo is apparently doing here) "DIY academic" as "academic who has not received his PhD", then if the evidence here is correct, Einstein wrote three of his four important 1905 papers and therefore did major scientific work, which towers above the entire careers of numberless PhDs, when he was a DIY academic. If you add the dissertation itself, that makes four of five while DIY.

Expand full comment

Mises and Hayek figured that one out without being macroeconomists. And they were more correct about the unequal effects on a heterogeneous economy than have been any of the macroeconomists.

Expand full comment

Einstein got his PhD in 1905, the same year he published the papers that were much better than his dissertation on hydrodynamics (a topic he had previously published on in 1901). Here is the precise timing, but I think Tom is mistaken about the coarse timing.

Expand full comment