Finding What You're Looking For

One of the things I find most wearying about writing about economics is the extent to which people attempt to hijack economics to "scientifically prove" that their value judgements about things like the proper size and role of government are 100% factually correct--as if there were some way to empirically validate the correct marginal tax rate for people making over $100,000 a year.

But even when you're careful, it's distressingly easy to find what you expect. The result is a history of science developing models that used "scientific evidence" to bolster the social hierarchy of the day. We think that phrenology and 19th century racialism are obviously preposterous--but they clearly weren't, because some very smart people believed them, and were not conscious that they were simply confirming their own prejudices.

via Finding What You're Looking For - Megan McArdle - Technology - The Atlantic.