I've taken to reading her book, "How to be Human *Though an Economist."
It's amazing, and I find myself agreeing with much of her sentiment. In the book she offers up a letter she wrote to a graduate student that was quickly becoming disillusioned with the profession. McCloskey's basic answer is to 'buck up and bare it, and then when you graduate, change the profession.'
I've been thinking on this. Given the economics (mainstream) profession is in complete disarray and destined for futility in its general form, which sadly I think it is, how can we change this - how can we alter its future?
The fact that there might not be an answer scares me. The fact that there might not be an answer is why I haven't and don't intend to pursue a Phd. in Economics. McCloskey doesn't have the answer - she has the hope, but not the answer.
let's say I, or some disillusioned grad student, make it through Phd dissertations etc. and become a full-time faculty-tenure-track economist. That is not the answer. Because now, with few exception, my bosses are 'let's run this equation to fix the world despite not knowing what the world is about'-style economists. The vast majority of schools around the world, and particularly in the US have this problem. Coupled with academia's 'boy's club' way of being able to publish research - this does not lend itself to true, useful, meaningful, what McCloskey would call "ethical" scientific analysis.
So, the individual person can't change the profession - the barriers to change are too great. The institutions themselves are unlikely to change. Why? One, again since its all one big boy's club, it's best to not rock the boat. But more importantly, economics has become largely invaded by ideologues who form opinions first and then conduct analysis regardless of the real world. Part of that ideology is to 'support' the business class no matter the theory. It's a simple equation really. unethical, pandering economic analysis today + money and other non-pecuniary support from the business elite = unethical, pandering economic analysis tomorrow.
So, you may ask if individual students, professors and institutions can't change economics, perhaps the business community can? But why? Quid pro quo Clarisse.
Who then, what then, is left?
The government? Doubtful. The lay-person? Hardly.
I fear my friends we are in a catch-22. I can't see the light. More importantly, I can't see a WAY to find the light.
I invite your opinions - and if you are of the opinion that the mainstream economics profession is on sound solid ground - then I'm afraid you are delusional.