The Lure of Incredible Certitude

49 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018

See all articles by Charles F. Manski

Charles F. Manski

Northwestern University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 2018


Forthright characterization of scientific uncertainty is important in principle and serves important practical purposes. Nevertheless, economists and other researchers commonly report findings with incredible certitude, reporting point predictions and estimates. To motivate expression of incredible certitude, economists often suggest that researchers respond to incentives that make the practice tempting. This temptation is the "lure" of incredible certitude. I flesh out and appraise some of the rationales that observers may have in mind when they state that incredible certitude responds to incentives. I conclude that scientific expression of incredible certitude at most has appeal in certain limited contexts. It should not be a general practice.

Suggested Citation

Manski, Charles F., The Lure of Incredible Certitude (August 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24905, Available at SSRN:

Charles F. Manski (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

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