The strange article by Gary Thomas suggests to me that the author knows little about modern economics research.
The May 2009 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Economics, one of the leading publications in the field, happened to be on my desk when I read his piece. In it there are 11 articles, 10 of them empirical. They use a mixture of randomised controlled trials, carefully collected historical data, laboratory and natural experiments, and so on. Here are some of their titles: "Does Medicare Save Lives?"; "Power to the People: A Field Experiment in Uganda"; "Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving"; "Does Movie Violence Increase Crime?"
Our social-science knowledge is certainly imperfect and economists have plenty to learn. But at the age of 55, I rather wish I had a pound for every time I have heard criticisms of the state of economics by people who do not read the economics journals.
Andrew J. Oswald, Professor of economics, University of Warwick.