Friday, April 01, 2005

Is it just me?

I recommended an article that I really enjoyed to a friend of mine. Oil Econ 101 by Arnold Kling. I like this friend. He's a smart guy. And he hated the article. Not because he disagreed with the conclusion, but because he thought that the presentation of the argument was very imprecise. He specifically did not like the lack of mathematical precision that he likes. He has a Ph.D in math, so this isn't surprising. But he found that the argument was just muddled and invaluable.

What's surprising to me is that he found it so confusing while I found it to be crystal clear. And it makes me wonder if the reason I find it be clear is because I've been reading a lot of economics lately. Is it clear to me because I have started to build my background in econ? If so, then Arnold is in trouble. Because this is a chapter in his book Learning Economics. This is supposed to be a book that explains economics to the economically illiterate. But if it requires some base level of economic understanding in order to make sense, then it will struggle to achieve its goal.

Or maybe it's not me and my (ridiculously small) predisposition to economics that allows me to see clarity where my friend sees confusion. Maybe my friend is just easily confused. Or maybe he's got some other bias that makes it hard for him to perceive this clearly. Or maybe I've got a bias that allows me see clarity where there is actually none. I really hope that it's not the last part. But if it is, I also really hope that I can find someone to straighten me out.

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