I agree with your observation that economists’ excuses

for avoiding graphs are getting clumsier by the day.

But I do not understand why

you consider the analogy with Church astronomers

to be inadequate.

Church astronomers bedeviled the telescope for fears of losing credibility

after centuries of preaching that new knowledge

can only come from deeper studies of the scripture,

not from new tools or new facts unveiled by

the new tools.

Now, aren’t these fears similar to those that

haunt graph-avoiding economists?

What else can explain a 3-decade avoidance

if not fears of losing credibility after

promising that:

1. Graphs are not helpful for the “kind of problems”

researchers are facing in social and health sciences.

2. Potential outcomes provide a natural way of expressing

causal assumptions.

3. Ignorability conditions can be assumed apriori.

4. Causal inference is a missing data problem

5. Potential outcome researchers can tell if a set

of assumptions are testable or not.

6. Graphs are too seductive

I wish historians of science could join this discussion

Judea

]]>The graph does not force you to estimate every single quantity. On the contrary, the graph helps you reason about what parts of the model you need to focus and what parts you can safely ignore to properly answer your query. Not only that, economists are in effect using an approach that is mathematically equivalent to graphs, with potential outcomes, but are wishing away the modeling problem by assuming ignorability, in many cases without understanding what it means. So I am not sure I would go as far as equating economists to Church astronomers, but it’s surely an educational gap that will take some time to address.

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