Lying Is a Betrayal of Science
No expert should lie to people in any way and say in public, for
example, that the economic situation is very good and not as
worrying as you think.
Dr. Mousa Ghaninejad, economist, believes that economists in the public
arena should address policymakers with their advice and warnings, not the
general public. If an economist wants to reach out to ordinary people and
give them advice, it is better to do so in the form of consulting firms
rather than in the public arena, because giving public advice may have
dangerous consequences for experts, individuals and the society.
Ghaninejad warns: When an economist makes forecasts in the public arena
about the future of prices and the future of the economy, there is a danger
that the masses may believe his/her prediction and act upon it, in which
case the economy may become more turbulent and even collapse.
In the face of macroeconomic instability, some public sector experts and
economists offer economic advice to people about buying and selling assets.
How do these recommendations relate to the social responsibility of
Economists need to pay close attention to the far-reaching effects of these
recommendations, especially in situations such as Iranian society, which
from time to time suffers severe economic fluctuations, foreign currency
fluctuations, and inflationary turmoil. In a situation where the macro
economy is turbulent and people are confused, the words of economists
working in the public sphere can be very influential. Many people would
probably expect to receive practical guidance from these experts, but
economists in the public arena should address policy-makers on their advice
and warnings, not the general public.
If an economist wants to reach out to ordinary people and give them advice,
it is better to do so in the form of consulting firms rather than in the
public arena, because giving public advice may have dangerous consequences
for experts, individuals and the society.
Of course, an economist, like the rest of the society, naturally pursues his
own interests, but when he speaks as an expert or scholar, he must also
consider his social responsibility and not only personal interests, as a
physician does when treating patients. Although he pursues his own
interests, where his personal interests are not in line with the interests
of the patient, he prefers the interests of clients to his own interests as
a matter of human commitment and social responsibility.
If an economist or financial expert wants to give advice to the people, he
should do so in the form of economic consulting firms and for his specific
clients, and be accountable for his predictions and recommendations. It
should not be the case for an economist to make a general statement in
public and when people follow that advice and end up in losses he would not
In the foreign currency turmoil of early 1397 (2018), some “experts”, made
strange predictions that, for example, the rate of the US dollar would reach
400,000 rials (for one USD) by the end of the year. It is completely
irresponsible to make such forecasts. Those predictions were not correct,
but I believe that even if these people believed that their projection was
true and scientific they should still not have made these predictions
public. Because such predictions make people anxious and inflames the
society. Experts, even if they want to give advice or suggestions to
ordinary people, family, friends and acquaintances, should do so in the form
of a consulting contract for which they are accountable. Even someone who
advises a friend or relative to buy a stake in the capital market should be
held accountable later.
Therefore, an economist or expert should in no way address people in the
public arena on economic and financial advice. Of course, it is the duty of
every scholar to analyze the existing facts and express his opinion, but
announcing what it is better for people to do with their possessions should
not be done in the form of a speech or writing or an article in the public
arena. Economists should only make recommendations in the field of
policy-making and addressing the government. Certainly, in these cases, the
economists who advise the policymaker must also be responsible. That is, to
explain as a policy adviser what scientific evidence and theory they are
making a prediction on, and if it later becomes clear that this prediction
is wrong, apologize and be fined. Of course, the most important penalty for
an economist is to lose credit. In the turbulent context of macroeconomics,
it is better for economists in the public arena to explain the policies that
have caused the turmoil and offer solutions and advice to change them,
rather than to suggest to individuals about the management of personal
Why has the economic policy climate shifted to a point where some
economists, like the general public, are frustrated with reform and have
turned to individual salvation instead of emphasizing structural reform? In
this situation, can we hope that collective benefit will be achieved by
providing individual advantage?
In the context of macroeconomic variables, economic issues become very
sensitive. Let me illustrate this with an example to make it clearer.
Suppose in a large auditorium with a big crowd, you suddenly see a corner of
the auditorium on fire, and there is a serious danger that the fire will
soon engulf the entire auditorium and endanger people’s lives. In this
situation, if you shout fire, all the people rush to the exit doors and a
large number of people will probably be trampled and die.
Therefore, instead of shouting out of excitement, it is better to inform the
hall officials about what happened and advise them to calmly lead the people
out and empty the hall and extinguish the fire without creating panic. The
responsible way is the second method. The same is true in the field of
economics. When fear occurs, the fact that everyone wants to save themselves
is not in the pursuit of personal interests, because in such a struggle, one
may even harm one’s own interests; A person who is frightened and wants to
leave the hall by paddling as soon as possible may lose his life under the
limbs and even act against his interests. The same is true in economics.
Moreover, when fear arises and people pursue their own interests in terror,
their individual interests coincide with those of the common good, and we
can no longer say that the general rule of economics, that is, the alignment
of individual interests with the common good, applies here. In fact, a
special situation has occurred here and a special measure is needed. Here,
each person must prevent fear, or not fear himself, at least for the sake of
his personal interests; otherwise the wrong decision will be made. An expert
who wants to give advice in the public must consider all these delicate and
Given that economists and experts alike may be accused of lying by the
public in a turbulent economic environment, how can they move on the line
between refusing to inflame the society and being accused of dishonesty with
Lying is a betrayal of science. No expert should lie to people in any way
and say in public, for example, that the economic situation is very good and
not as worrying as you think. The facts must be told, but in certain
circumstances and when the situation is turbulent, such as when a theater is
on fire, the treatment of experts should not be like in normal conditions.
In such a situation, experts should act much more responsibly, not to
falsely deny the existence of fire and tell people to stay in their seats.
The truth must be told, but the truth must be told in such a way that the
same people whom you intend to save will not be harmed; that is in a way
that your recommendation would not backfire. Denying the facts is what
governments do, and as a result, their words always have the opposite
effect. Like when the government announced people can get any amount of USD
no matter for what purpose at the rate of 42,000 rials (for one USD), but we
saw this had an opposite impact on the economy. Finally, when the officials
saw that their offer could not be realized they changed their mind.
Economists and experts should never say things that are unfounded and
instead they should make scientific and expert views and this should be done
in the right way so that this would not create much irritation and turmoil
in the society.