The lure of incredible certitude

Charles F. Manski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Forthright characterization of scientific uncertainty is important in principle and in practice. Nevertheless, economists and other researchers commonly report findings with incredible certitude, reporting point predictions and estimates. To motivate expression of incredible certitude, economists suggest that researchers respond to incentives that make the practice tempting. This temptation is the 'lure' of incredible certitude. I 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 limited contexts. It should not be a general practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-245
Number of pages30
JournalEconomics and Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • partial identification
  • policy analysis
  • scientific uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Economics and Econometrics


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