A reply to Wallace’s 山登绝顶我为峰

Here is my reply to Wallace’s 山登绝顶我为峰 blog entry,

As a non-economist, I am not knowledgeable enough to pick Prof. Steven Cheung’s best economics paper. But I can say his way of thinking and analyzing problems have played an important role in shaping my own. So to me, the most important series of articles were the following three that he wrote in 1984 to share his insight about how to think and analyze.

思考的方法(上), (中), (下)

For me, I try to read and learn from people like Professor Cheung, Warren Buffett (his 2008 biography), Richard Feynman, and Bill Buxton for their specialized knowledge but also the way they analyze and solve problems and sometimes even how they live their lives.

Wallace, you mentioned,

2. The style is getting closer to Adam Smith

One major strength of Smith’s work is the evidenced based approach. I would argue that Professor Cheung’s articles in recent years are often short of evidence, despite that the creativity still exists.

I wonder if the main reason of Prof. Cheung’s articles in recent years being “short of evidence” was due to Prof. Cheung having “internalized” lots of these “evidences” and not wanting to spend time and energy to write and record them? You see, this reminds me of the story of a math professor standing in front of a class proving some theorem and then stop for half an hour and then said to himself, “oh yes, this is obvious” and then continue on with his proof without any additional explanations.

Wallace, am I right to think and say that those missing evidence and data may be “obvious” to professor Cheung, but for many other economists to have a chance to understand and follow the professor’s line of reasoning in a concrete and reproducible manner, a lot more of these missing evidence and data have to be included and provided?

While I don’t know how likely is this, but without the missing evidence and data, there is much less chance to point out any potential flaws in the analysis and reasoning thus making the theory less able to stand the test of time?

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