Admitting Ignorance

Felix Salmon describes how most journalists read economics papers:

[W]e generally have no ability or inclination to try to understand the details of the formulae and regression analyses, so we confine ourselves to reading the stuff in English, and work on the general assumption that the mathematics is reasonably solid

An economics PhD student comments:

[U]nderstanding the math lets you realize how narrow the analysis is and how stylized the world depicted by the model has to be for its conclusions to follow. As descriptions of the world, they’re metaphors; but without the math it’s hard to show someone where the metaphor holds and where it’s just an analogy not to be taken literally.