The other day I had a post about readers and lurkers. I got to learn about our readers from the comments. Frankly, its humbling to have the opportunity to write material that gets read by such a diverse crowd. What’s most interesting is the large number of readers that are not trained in economics.
One of the things that attracted me about economics is that it is, in many ways, accessible. Sure, there are some fairly sophisticated tools and methods out there; as with any other field, some things may be hard for the non-specialist to follow, but often that’s due more to the lingo of the natives than anything else. Economics, in the end, is about human behavior and interaction (i.e., how people react to motivations and constraints) which is a topic that most humans (and a few of the other readers) can grok.
One thing those of us with some specialized training can bring is some sense of how things have occurred in the past – most theory, at least most theory that is any good, is developed on the basis of observation, after all. We also know where the information sits. Turn on the tv, and you have some talking head talking about the national debt or some other topic. But the average viewer doesn’t know how big that debt is, or whether its growing or shrinking. One thing I always liked about Angry Bear – long before I was a poster, I commented, and long before I commented, I was a reader, is that the writers make an effort to point to the data, to show you where it actually comes from. But writing for the Angry Bear, I’ve come to realize the benefit to making things as straightforward as I am able. (And I grant you that I’m not always able to make them clear enough.) One cannot hide behind one’s tools, one must actually understand, or at least try to understand, what is going on. Because our readers will catch it if one doesn’t.
But each reader has his or her own experiences. This variety means that the perspective we get from readers (in comments, in guest posts, and in private e-mails) is itself amazing. Things that you write get me thinking along lines that would never occur to me. (I imagine this is the same for the other writers.)
Anyway, I don’t have a smooth segue to where I’m going, but I’d like remind readers – perhaps you don’t have the time during the day to post a comment, but perhaps there’s something you want to discuss that hasn’t been covered, or hasn’t been covered the way you feel it should. I would like to encourage readers to write up a guest post. Even if its just a series of questions. Even if your background has no economics in it. And even if, perhaps especially if, I don’t agree with the post. As long as its thoughtful, and I think its Angry Bear material, I’ll put it up.