Kleiman goes another round:
If all Manzi means when he disses “social science” is that you shouldn’t just read some random paper in an economics or social-psych journal and propose some insanely risky venture such as privatizing Social Security or voucherizing public education or wiping out labor unions based on that paper, then I’m happy to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him against irresponsible radicalism and for cautious and evidence-sensitive approaches to bringing about social improvement.
While I don’t think that “all I meant” was that “you shouldn’t read some random paper in an economics or social-pysch journal” and propose X, I certainly believe that. Most important, I acknowledge enthusiastically his “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” point that the recognition of our ignorance should apply to things that I theorize are good ideas, as much as it does to anything else. The law of unintended consequences does not only apply to Democratic proposals.
In fact, I have argued for supporting charter schools instead of school vouchers for exactly this reason. Even if one has the theory (as I do) that we ought to have a much more deregulated market for education, I more strongly hold the view that it is extremely difficult to predict the impacts of such drastic change, and that we should go one step at a time (even if on an experimental basis we are also testing more radical reforms at very small scale). I go into this in detail for the cases of school choice and social security privatization in the book.
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