Economists and Dentists

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 1, 1996 | Go to article overview

Economists and Dentists


Bob Dole recently staked his credibility on a tax cut and a supply-side running mate, and already economists of all leanings smell blood. Representatives of the dismal science have begun barraging Americans with their often contradictory numbers and predictions. But before we dismiss economists, and certainly before we trust them, we should try to understand them.

John Maynard Keynes once compared economists to dentists. His comparison both succeeds and fails. It succeeds if interpreted the way Keynes intended it: as a comment on the humility that economists should share with tooth doctors. The comparison, however, will fail those who understand it to mean that economists and dentists share a certainty concerning problems and prescriptions. It will mislead those who believe, as many Americans do, that avoiding a recession is as straightforward as extracting a tooth.

A more popular comparison might be to physicists. People look at economics and see a hard science, a discipline obsessed with meticulous graphs and mind-bending equations. Money and employment and interest rates are measurable quantities, apparently impervious to the kind of interpretation that characterizes the study of literature and philosophy and politics.

We expect economists to furnish the facts that must precede a popular debate. Physicists invent the atomic bomb so that the rest of us can decide whether to build it, and economists explain the effects of a tax cut so that the rest of us can argue.

How frustrated we must be when economists disagree! Voters have no time to understand the atom; few Americans pull their own teeth. Why should they be expected to tackle deficit spending? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Economists and Dentists
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.