Ask the grumpies: Big controversial research questions in your field

CG asks:

Big research questions in your field that are controversial or have mixed evidence (thinking about the minimum wage issue, and there are plenty of examples in my field). Maybe we’ll get some good research ideas out of it.

Well, yeah, minimum wage is a big one.

What else do economists not agree on yet… hm….

We don’t know a whole lot about a lot of monetary policy.  I was trained in Keynesian stuff, but there’s disagreements there.

Structural models for labor economics and public finance.  There’s some other modeling things that are much smaller and tend not to actually matter (I was trained in Cambridge-school instead of Chicago-school beliefs about these, but I have colleagues who were the reverse).

There’s still a lot of old-school people who believe that women and minorities are doing poorly because they’re playing the game wrong, not because they’re playing a different game than white dudes are.  That’s beginning to change, but it’s an uphill battle.

#2 can’t really add to this because she’s keeping her social science secret and it would be obvious.

Grumpy Nation, what are the big controversies in your respective fields?

5 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Big controversial research questions in your field”

  1. cfroning Says:

    Let’s see: I’ll go with discrepant measurements of the Hubble constant (the rate of expansion of the universe) between nearby and distant measurements.

    But give it a year or so, now that JWST has launched, and we will definitely be arguing about whether we have detected potential life signatures on other planets.

  2. yetanotherpfblog Says:

    Not really research questions, but definitely deep tribalism/controversy around different system setup and preferences.

    My favorite example: Monolith or micro services? Get two senior engineers in a room together with different preferences and it can go on for days/months/years.

  3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I can’t share the specifics of our biggies but they all revolve around ethics and the having of them. That’s a totally boring answer.

  4. CG Says:

    Late to the party again for my own question. One of the best examples I can think of from a related field (not mine) is the causes of falling and rising crime rates. You would think we would have a clearer sense of why these changes occur, but we really don’t. There are a lot of competing explanations. I guess the answer very well may be that crime is a really complex phenomenon. That’s why I get annoyed at people who blame the mayor for rising crime rates (a la Chicago). If mayors knew how to and were able to decrease crime in their cities, they would absolutely do it! But they really don’t have a lot of evidence-based tactics (and each one has political consequences) and ultimately there are so many other factors at work that they have no control over.

    • rose Says:

      You made me laugh with no humor remembering the governor who promised with the passage of no reproductive rights for people with a uterus he was going to also end all rape in his state………. like ending all crime among people.


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