Why Oh Why Can’t We Have Better EconProf Bloggers?

Would you consider it sound for one academic to attack a paper written by another, calling it (among other things) “obviously erroneous” and “simply stupid,” based upon a third-party representation of what it says?  And would you consider it responsible to use the third-party representation of said paper as Exhibit A for questioning why the author has a tenured job at a prestigious academic institution?  You would if you were University of California at Berkeley economics professor J. Bradford DeLong, who has continued his series of attacks against University of Chicago law professor M. Todd Henderson.  “I genuinely do not understand why Henderson has his job,” writes DeLong, pointing not to anything Henderson himself wrote but instead to what another academic blogger wrote about Henderson’s scholarship.  [Yes, this is the same Professor DeLong who repeats baseless accusations against other academics and then, when asked to substantiate his charges, selectively edits his comment threads and then dissembles about said editing when called on it.]

According to University of Illinois law professor Larry Ribstein, DeLong’s attack on Henderson’s scholarship is quite off base:

the most remarkable thing about DeLong’s post is that it accuses Todd of being “stupid” and unfit for law teaching because of an argument Todd didn’t make!

If DeLong had bothered to look even at the abstract of Todd’s article, perhaps he would have noticed that the article’s not about alignment of incentives, but about whether boards bargain with insiders over their gains.  Todd finds evidence consistent with the hypothesis that “boards pay executives in a way that reflects the profits they are expected to earn from informed trades.” . . .

I will leave it to the reader to decide what we should make of a Professor of Economics at U.C Berkeley, Chair of Berkeley’s Political Economy major and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who is willing, in print, to accuse somebody of being “simply stupid” for a position he does not take expressed in a blog post he didn’t write.

J.W. Verret has more here and here.

UPDATE: DeLong responds here.

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