Leeson, R. (2008). Early and often or too late and not enough?. Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, 26 (1), 59-61.
Economists at the University of Chicago are famous for an assembly line which consists of commenting “early and often” on each others papers and books:
a + b + … + y = z
a = the first draft
b … y = critical but constructive comments and
z = the final product (intermediate consumption for the rest of the profession).
This book (which claims to be about “How the University of Chicago Assembled” these “thinkers” – although there is very little about the assembling) has adopted a non-Chicago assembly line process apparently consisting of
a + b = c
c = a disappointment.
a = interviews with 100 Chicagoans over 10 weeks
b = a relatively small (double digit, I suspect) number of weeks combining these interview tidbits with born, bred and dead details and copious (and uncritical) quotations from the secondary literature.
Van Overtveldt’s “c” is no worse than other books at that stage – his fault lies in not having pursued the research technique his so obviously admires. As a result his book was rejected by more than one academic publishing house (Van Overtveldt apparently did not use the critical comments provided to him by those referees to construct a worthwhile project).