Monday, October 27, 2008

A Characteristic In Common Between the New Palgrave and Wikipedia

Mark Blaug reviewed the 1987 edition of the New Palgrave, apparently for some right-wing outfit. I find much in his review to disagree with. But I think he has a point here:
"The Eatwell-Milgate-Newman policy of publishing multiple entries with slightly different titles for identical subjects constantly produces curious results... On balance, a policy of presenting competing opinions under the same title would have been vastly preferable to the Eatwell-Milgate-Newman policy of several entries under different titles on what is in fact one and the same topic." -- Mark Blaug, Economics Through the Looking Glass: The Distorted Perspective of the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, Institute of Economic Affairs, 1988.
An example I found would be Walter Eltis' article "Falling Rate of Profit" and N. Okishio on "Choice of Technique and Rate of Profit". Neither references the other. Sometimes the Eatwell-Milgate-Newman policy makes no difference, e.g. in successive articles on "Competition," "Competition: Austrian Conceptions," "Competition: Classical Conceptions," and "Competition: Marxian Conceptions".

Wikipedia also has closely related articles with different names. Here are some examples in economics:
I admit an interest in some of these entries. I did quite a bit of work on the General Equilibrium entry. The Labor Theory of Value entry, which is terribly written, currently includes a link to my FAQ. Although it has evolved, I wrote, near-enough, the original version of the Neoclassical entry.

The Law of Value/Labor Theory of Value and Marginalism/Neoclassical economics pairs closely follow Blaug's complaint. Each member of a pair are written from very different perspectives. (I've been in edit wars with the crank maintaining the marginalism entry.)

By the way, both the comparative advantage and the Heckscher-Ohlin entry, including related entries on HO theorems, contain the usual errors about capital. That is, these entries are simply incorrect.

1 comment:

YouNotSneaky! said...

"Wikipedia also has closely related articles with different names. Here are some examples in economics:
* Comparative Advantage and Heckscher-Ohlin Model"

Those two articles are quite different. In particular the Comp Adv article is horrible, both in its "main content" section and in the "criticism" section. I'd much rather see the capital theoretic criticisms than the nonsense that's there now.