Deirdre McCloskey, professor emerita of everything, once wrote a book chapter titled “The Coolness of Alexander Gerschenkron” about her mentor in the economics department at Harvard. I’m beginning to think someone ought to write a full-length piece about the “Coolness of Deirde McCloskey.”
I once wrote an article criticizing a small bit of McCloskey’s work, but in what I hoped was a constructive way. I’m happy that I never received a rebuttal, since McCloskey is not a person I’d like to have a debate with.
Take for instance, her wit in this response to a review of her book at Econ Journal Watch: “We speculate that Krueger quickly formed an impression of the book, leading in her mind to an imaginary book…As a critique of the imaginary book, Krueger’s review is spirited and engaging; it shows more gusto than the typical JEL review.” This is a great example of ironic praise and criticism, a sort of lifting someone up only to let them fall further.
And in this month’s issue of Reason Magazine, McCloskey lands another good punch, when she says that Richard Thaler got a Nobel Prize for a “study of the mistakes people make when buying milk.”