The NYT Corrects the Wolfers Post

Here is the corrected post.

As I noted in a long post that contains the entire email exchange between Justin Wolfers and me, Justin admitted making a “foolish mistake” when reporting my reaction to the paper on gender bias in economics. Justin’s initial article had me reacting as follows:

In an email sent on Wednesday, after he received a copy of Ms. Wu’s paper, Professor Borjas said his views had not changed.

The problem with this sentence is that the email exchange makes it obvious that I was reacting to an entirely different matter. Justin’s foolish mistake was to tell me he was going to quote from Blog Post A, which I then reacted to, but then superimposed my reaction on a quote from Blog Post B. I’m not entirely sure what they teach in journalism school, but this is probably a no-no.

The New York Times has corrected the text of the article. It now reads:

After receiving a copy of Ms. Wu’s paper, Mr. Borjas said: “While there is some value in that forum, there is also a great deal that is offensive and disturbing. The problem is I’m not sure exactly where to draw [the] line.”

This precisely summarizes my feelings about EJMR, in particular, and social media, in general. There’s an amazing amount of bullying, of offensive language, of demeaning people, of making fun of how people look, and on and on. It often makes a high school cafeteria look like the Magic Kingdom, the friendliest place on earth.

At the same time, amidst all that offensive material, one can find posts that are very useful. In the EJMR context, the posts on professional misconduct in economics are extremely valuable. It is likely that much of that information would have been hidden away in the darkest room by the guilty parties had they not been uncovered by the forum.

There is indeed a tradeoff. Unlike most people who seem so certain of what the world should look like, however, I just don’t know what the solution is.

I am extremely grateful to the two editors at the NYT who took my grievance seriously and who were the initiators and prime movers behind the correction.

I am also still waiting for Justin’s public apology.


And here’s the text of the footnote that the NYT added to indicate the correction:

Correction: August 22, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated the current views of George Borjas about Economics Job Market Rumors, an online forum, after receiving a copy of a paper by Alice H. Wu about the forum. Mr. Borjas said, “While there is some value in that forum, there is also a great deal that is offensive and disturbing. The problem is I’m not sure exactly where to draw line.” He did not say that all his views about the forum were unchanged.

Author: George Borjas

I am a Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.