The two images of economics: why the fun disappears when difficult questions are at stake?

Journal of Economic Methodology 19 (3):243-258 (2012)
The image of economics got somewhat puzzling after the crisis of 2008. Many economists now doubt that economics is able to provide answers to some of its core questions. The crisis was not so fun for economics. However, this not so fun image of economics is not the only image in the eyes of the general public. When one looks at economics-made-fun (EMF) books (e.g. Freakonomics, The Undercover Economist, etc.), economics seems to be an explanatory science which is able to provide interesting, unconventional, entertaining and enlightening explanations for almost every aspect of our lives. Isn't there a great contradiction between these two images of economics? Not necessarily. The present paper explicates why. Nevertheless, the paper also shows that EMF books run the risk of creating a false sense of understanding and explains how one should read the basic insights provided by EMF books to remove this risk. The paper contrasts the EMF version of the explanation of the effects of mandatory seat belt laws with actual research concerning the subject to illustrate its arguments
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DOI 10.1080/1350178X.2012.714142
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