- Consider how differently the public treats physics and economics. Physicists can say that this week they think the universe has eleven dimensions, three of which are purple, and two of which are twisted clockwise, and reporters will quote them unskeptically, saying "Isn't that cool!" But if economists say, as they have for centuries, that a minimum wage raises unemployment, reporters treat them skeptically and feel they need to find a contrary quote to "balance" their story.
Do we care about expert opinion?
In many cases, what the experts have to say has a big effect on public opinion. Think about global warming. Most people think it's real because climate scientists say it's real. But, as Bryan Caplan has pointed out, the public is less willing to defer to the experts in economic matters. He discovers four big econ error biases: anti-foreign bias, anti-market bias, make-work bias, and pessimistic bias. In each case, what economists think is much different than what everyone else thinks. Take the last of the four biases. Economists generally think that things are getting better, while the man-on-the-street is far more likely to think things are getting worse. Robin Hanson expands on the theme: