Monday, February 6, 2012

Will the imposter please stand up?

The week is up and I am now revealing the identities of my four mystery Keynesians.

Please do not read any further or click to expand this post if you have not had a chance to read the previous post. You will spoil your own fun.

Al Pacino was Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, who blogs at BlindSight 20/20. Sadly, the blog has been dormant because of his workload as a research assistant for violence against woman and an political science major. Dylan has also been too cool to comment here so far, although he responds to things I write or share in private corners of the Internet.

Steve Buscemi was Kevin Paul, who recently started the video game blog RetroTavern. Kevin and I were friends in college where he majored in business, eventually graduating with an MBA.

Christopher Walken was Jeremy Corbally-Hammond, who blogs at JermSix and occasionally comments here. Jeremy is the former chairman of the Maine Green Independent Party and works at a food bank.

That leaves one slot left.

Robert De Niro was me the whole time. With the exception of question two about spending more money on pet projects to boost aggregate demand, I never actually wrote an answer I found flawed or illogical I simply changed the emphasis. Some of the questions, like the ones on trading with space aliens and mercantalism, do not stray from my real beliefs. They hit upon some things that are simply universal.

I had a few people contact me directly to guess which writer I was. The only one to get it correct was Nate, who blogs at Congress Shall Make No Law. He said:
I haven't had time to read the whole thing in depth, but I think you are the 4th minion of Keynes, based on a preliminary investigation of the faulty economics.
He could have been lucky, of course. My inner Robin Hanson says a betting market is needed to separate the guessers from those with serious opinions.

I had a lot of fun with this project. Thanks again to Joshua Zelinsky of Religion, Sets, and Politics for providing the questions, my team of stunt Keynesians for taking the time to answer those questions, and Bryan Caplan for inspiring the project in the first place.

I'd love to see readers react to learning which writer was me. Please comment below to which one you thought I was, why you went with it, and how you feel now that you know who was who.


  1. Former CHAIR of MGIP - for a brief while.

    Great work, Michael. I was stumped.

  2. Fixed it. I thought that was true, but when I found your resignation letter that was the title you used.

  3. The timeline is wonky, for sure.

    Now I enjoy nonpartisan bliss.

  4. This was very interesting, but it seemed to be just "how would a liberal guy respond". It was hard to really get Keynesianism out of it.

  5. I guessed correctly, but the reason for my guess was completely wrong. I thought the answer to the first question was basically a parody of a left-wing argument. The private sector not being interested in "figuring out how nature works in general with no intended application" is not a market failure! The answer also immediately conflates subsidising public goods (which is Econ 101) with the government stepping in as provider of those goods (which is not).

    I therefore assumed this was Turing Test Fail, and that D was the correct answer. Whoops.

  6. I guessed De Niro. However, this was not based on the content, but purely on the writing style. I haven't read anything else by any of the four respondents, so individual variation in writing style could have thrown off this judgement, but each of the others wrote something that was uncharacteristic of someone strategically trying to give a serious answer to each question so as to deceive the reader. I guessed that you would have done so, and thus picked the remaining option.

    This is especially exacerbated if the other respondents aren't in on the game; if they try to strategically "normalize" their responses to the questions by eliminating any idiosyncrasies between their personal views and the broad consensus of their ideology the game becomes harder.