i don’t think i misunderstood what john broome says. let’s take what he says:
What is the role of experts in democracy?…Their views, supported by arguments and evidence, help individuals and their representatives to form judgments.
agreed. then he says:
This is not how economists typically see their democratic role. They do not see themselves as participants in public deliberation, helping people to make their judgments.
i disagree. so i said:
economists do try to base their views on evidence. they do try to help individuals to form judgements. they are, and are seen as, participants in [p]ublic deliberation.
an example of this? zoeschlanger has a piece on an economist basing their view on evidence. the latest study on fracking on ohio was to ‘help’ individuals - namely policy makers - to form judgements - whether or not to allow fracking in their state. and as such the study is seen as an input into public deliberation.
[note the blog by zoe is about how economists hide the source of funding for the study and release findings which are erroneous in such a way as the ommission favours the group funding the study. like monsanto releasing studies which downplay the genetic damage associated with cancer recognition in round-up which allows round-up ready GM plants to continue to be planted]
here we have an economist, an expert, standing behind their expertise in the form of a study. the study is meant to influence the debate. the debate occurs in the deliberation the state legislature will undertake when considering whether or not to allow fracking. here the economist is seen as a participant in the debate as they use that very expertise to influence the outcome of the deliberation. this comprehensively contradicts john broome’s statement
what else does john broome say?
Instead, they think their role is to help ensure that the preferences of the people prevail. They do this by basing their valuations on market prices, which reflect people’s preferences.”
the economists who hide the source of their funding, who exclude certain evidence such as negative externalities in the case of fraqcking to further an agenda, are not making sure the ‘preferences of the people prevail’ - where ‘people’ means the entire populace. but where ‘people’ means those paying hundreds of thousands for the study, i agree with this statement.
and when they exclude some evidence to present a biased picture, not only are they not reflecting the populace’s preferences, they are not reflecting market forces - which are more than prices. after all, prices are simply the result of an intersection of a demand and supply curve. the preferences reflect the steepness - or very existence - of those curves. and thus preferences are never reflected by market prices themselves, but how they change in response to information.
basically, when an economist conducts a study and shows how fracking is beneficial in employment terms and discounts the environmental costs, then it is distorting market preferences. it is allowing personal value judgements to override their duty as experts.
and you attempt to show what i should have understood:
Economists do base their views on evidence, but mosteconomists use this evidence to further market preferences and not their own value judgments. Most of this value is manifested in market prices, and is commonly used due to its summative and objective nature.
most economists doing studies like these attempt to reveal what the market doesn’t even know it prefers. in the case highlighted by zoe, making the market - the politicans - aware they could be creating jobs. but a truthful economist would reveal all the costs or benefits of certain actions. when they conduct studies in the way highlighted they are making value judgements. they are allowing their bias to cloud the picture they present to further a particular agenda.
you then go on to say:
I think Broome makes an interesting point because far too often I have seen experts abuse their influence to further personal agenda, and thus economists that refrain from value judgments and political leanings in their recommendations, while allowing preferences to prevail, lead to a more democratic market economy.
well, we’ve seen it again. i will say that those economists who do present the entire picture do allow for more intelligent decision making. such economists who do not should be stripped of all their qualifications and have their tenure revoked.
but do those who are truthful lead to a ‘more democratic market economy’? is there such a thing? perhaps they lead to a more rational market economy. where all of the decisions taken in that economy are taken with all information in hand. but more democratic? i don’t think so. unless by democratic you mean that now the fully informed people only make rational choices? well behavioural economics will show you this doesn’t exist. people are irrational. and long may it be so.