Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Ratio Working Papers,
The Ratio Institute

No 140: Knowledge Flat-talk: A Conceit of Supposed Experts and a Seduction to All

Daniel B. Klein ()
Additional contact information
Daniel B. Klein: The Ratio Institute, Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 3203, SE-103 64 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Articulate knowledge entails the triad: information, interpretation, and judgment. Information is the reading of the facts through a working interpretation. Much of modern political economy has miscarried by discoursing as though interpretation were symmetric and final. This move has the effect of flattening knowledge down to information – here dubbed “knowledge flat-talk.” Economic prosperity depends greatly on discovery, but discovery is often a transcending of the working interpretation, not merely the acquisition of new information. Models typically assume that the modeler’s working interpretation is common knowledge. But often the sets of relevant knowledge of the relevant actors do not approximate the common knowledge assumption. We need better understanding and appreciation of asymmetric interpretation and its dynamics.

Keywords: knowledge; information; interpretation; judgment; common knowledge

JEL-codes: A10; D80

20 pages, September 21, 2009

Note: Published in The Independent Review

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