Duke from on high

I have just come across this short drone movie on DukeTODAY, my opening page in my browser. This is Duke.

I cannot but be nostalgic for the weeks I spent there in 2016. As a Fulbrighter, I am going to visit a lot of great universities this year (and I can hardly wait to get there), but for me perosnally Duke will always remain something different. This was the town (Durham, NC) and this was the university where I set my foot on U.S. soil for the very first time… this is probably the reason why Duke and Durham will be the in the centre of my heart. I have some friends there, I have memories making me tied to the university once and for all. My plane lands on 1 November early in the afternoon. I will take a bus to Duke Chapel, settle down in a minute and take a walk to visit my lovely places again… and as soon as I can. The Bryan Center… the bookshop… the chapel… and the squirrels all over the trees. Lisa and Paige and the Interational House at Alexander Street. And Panera Bread in 9th Street, of course. I love Duke.


Fulbright chronicle #4

Here is the map of the Hungarian Fulbrighters of AY 2018-2019: who goes here and who goes there. I am happy to have three labels. One for Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona), my host institution, giving my supervisor, one for the University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois) and one for Duke University (Durham, North-Carolina). This is a tour… and what a tour!


Fulbright chronicle #3

Hungarian Fulbright grantees — researcher, lecturers and students — of academic year 2018/2019 showing off after our farewell party, yesterday evening. Kriszta stands in the middle, our leading intructor and program officer, our honorary fellow mate — to whom we are all so grateful for her unremitting enthusisasm and kind support. My tall figure is rising on the left — proud and happy. I am so delighted to have met so many talented and open-minded people. Good luck and safe travels to everyone.


On the margin of the 2018 elections in Hungary

I’ve been considering for days to write something about the shocking outcome of the 2018 parliamentary elections in Hungary, held last Sunday. The first idea came to my mind was to write a detailed analysis on this historical phenomenon in order to explain what happened. But this is beyond my power and such an endeavour would be inevitably subjective – something I’d like to avoid. So I spent the last couple of days considering the events in the hope of finding something worth sharing. Something which might be subjective, but still my own opinion.

I don’t want to talk about the flow of migrants directly – evben if it was the leading and almost sole topic of the campaign. This is a threat to the whole Western World, not exclusively to Hungary. But the ultimate cause of this victory is somewhere here for sure. Hungarian people see the migrants as a threat, whilst our Western counterparts have a radically different vision. Admittedly, such a strong difference of opinion can be regarded as a result of the overwhelming media-hype over the migration crisis, but I don’t believe that a media-hype could have created something which is not inherent in the Hungarian people. Do Hungarian people hate strangers, driven by a reflex? Is this my opinion?! I don’t think so. The problem is the social status of the ‘average’ Hungarian voters. It is an age-old debt of Hungarian politics to ‘uplift’ the people, to do something about the poverty and the deprivation of the rural population. These people are justified to see the migrants as a threat since these people still live on the dole, sadly enough. Simultaneously, Western people are not afraid. For them the flow of migrants is a chance to recrute new workforce for jobs they are reluctant to do. The radical difference of opinion can be traced back to a radical and even more fundamental difference is social status. Once the Hungarian population can catch up with the Western standards in terms of income and wealth, this difference of attitude towards the migration crisis will disappear.

The sad thing is that we have politics in which it proved to be a merit to make good use of people’s deprivation and their lack of adequate information. Time will tell whether it is a viable option.


Remembering EIPE 20th Anniversary Conference: ‘A world to win’


On this day a year ago this fantastic conference started. It was a great experience, so I am happy to recall the flight, the city, the beautiful university and all the friendly people. I spent three wonderful days in the city, taking long walks from my hotel to the sessions every morning. Rotterdam is too big to discover in three days, so I needed to rely on some travel books and videos to get to know something about the city. Here is my favourite one, with a short summary of the conference: all the great figures of EIPE talking about the birth and the implementation of the idea. Inspiring.

Fulbright chronicle #1

“Dear Dr. Péter Galbács,

Congratulations! On behalf of the Fulbright Board of Directors in Hungary, I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected for a Fulbright Research Award for 4 months during the 2018-2019 academic year in the United States. We hope there will not be any obstructions in executing your grant. We will be pleased to welcome you among our Fulbright grantees and truly believe that your time in the United States will prove to be a successful and productive experience.”

I cannot tell you how happy and proud I am. From time to time I stop for a minute to tell myself that it feels as if it was a dream that has come true. But then I realize it IS a dream that has come true. The planning process has just started. There are a lot of details to consider since an important part of my project is to do extended library research at Duke and Chicago libraries. I am excited, admittedly.

Soon I will try to tell you more about both the process and my project, but today I would like to take pride in my award and to be simply happy.

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The true story of a fake paper

Time and again I tell my students about how science works. This is a twofold task, since in order to cover all the aspects of modern science we need to detail both the fuctions and the malfunctions of science. I am a fan of science and economics, thus I want to make young scholars and professionals of the future more cognizant of the dark side of science. Doing so, I may help them to avoid serious mistakes and the best way of raising the standards is to show negative examples. I believe in a realiable science. What is more, as part of the International Peer Review Week every year I do my best to shed some light on the vital role peer reviewers play in modern science. One of my favourite examples is the famous ‘Get me off your f***ing mailing list‘ paper by David Mazières and Eddie Kohler, but the other day I realized I cannot tell the whole story. There are some details that may be interesting of which I know almost nothing. In this short blog post I will try to fill some lacunas of my knowledge about this funny example of modern science.

The paper is from 2005. This is the year when two scholars decided to write a paper to emphasize the negative aspects of science. There is a problematic model in international scientific publication in which publishers of dubious value make efforts to produce journal articles and books with no scholarly value. Whilst such publising houses try to appear to be reliable, internationally acknowledged institutions with well-founded reputation, they are only realizers of an unfortunatly wide circle of predatory publishing policy. In this policy, scientific value is not a concern. Here everything is about money: any paper can be published if the author is willing to pay for it. Such publishers promise researchers an exceptionally quick review phase and after publication an extraordinary wide range of future readers and a large number of citations. However, the published papers are rarely worth attention, so actually these papers are not likely to have any readers at all. Predatory journals follow a rather annoying editorial policy. I remember, some days after the EIPE 20 conference this year I was also contacted by a journal only to be asked to become a member of the editorial board. To my surprise, the editorial board was full of real people, real scientist who were not careful enough to keep away from a predatory journal. They are used by the predatory publishers to hide the true nature of their policy. These publishers tend to send spam e-mails to their targets, this is the reason why Mazières and Kohler were upset enough to write the paper that consists of the repeated sentence ‘Get me off your f***ing mailing list’.

Actually, Mazières and Kohler’s paper was prepared for the 9th World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics to protest against the low stadards of acceptance expressed by the organizers of the conference. In fact Mazières and Kohler are excellent scientists. David Mazières is a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. He received a BS in Computer Science from Harvard in 1994 and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2000. Eddie Kohler is the Microsoft Professor of Computer Science at Harvard at the moment. He received a BS (1995) and then a MS (1997) and a Ph.D. (2001) in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT.

In 2014, the story of the paper continued. That year Peter Vamplew (Federation University, Australia) after receiving some spams from the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology submitted the paper to the editors. He must have been surprised by the fact that the paper was sent to reviewers and rated as an excellent paper worth publishing. Moreover, the journal was really ready to publish the paper in exchange for a 150 USD fee. Of course, Vamplew refused to pay.


Michel De Vroey at Budapest Business School – A short summary

On 5-6th October Michel De Vroey visited Budapest Business School to give two lectures on the evolution of modern macroeconomics. Michel is a well-known historian of modern macroeconomics with a special interest in the theories of the business cycle; professor emeritus of the Catholic University of Leuven and a visiting scholar at a lot of prominent universities including the Sorbonne of Paris and Duke University of Durham, NC. He is the author of some widely read and acknowledged books written both in English and in French and a series of important papers.

Prof. De Vroey has earned the admiration of the professionals in the field of the history of economics by his enormous knowledge, by his outstanding ability to reorganize some well-known facts in strikingly new ways and by his courage to trigger new debates in which we can reopen some old questions in order to move towards a new consensus. His thought-provoking ideas pave the way for a more in-depth understanding of the history of our discipline. He is one of the few who have already realized that the history of economics can hardly be discussed without exploring the methodology of economics. In his recent book, The history of macroeconomics from Keynes to Lucas and beyond, the history of modern macro becomes an exciting story of revolutions along the way to a unified big picture of seemingly conflicting ideas. As I had the privilige of being his host during his staying, we could have discussions about a lot of exciting topics and I found myself in the delightful position of getting to know him personally while sipping coffee. He is a great arguer with firm and solid views on his field of interest… an experienced researcher with thorough insights on the socialisation conditions of theoretical economics and the history of economics as a discipline… and a powerful master of making science.

His Budapest lectures were grandiose assessments of the methodological and theoretical transitions of modern business-cycle theories during the 20th century. In his ‘Mainstream economics: Its rise and transformation’ speech (based on his recent working paper The rise of a mainstream in economics co-authored by Luca Pensieroso) Prof. De Vroey discussed and evaluated the process through which mainstream economics has emerged as a methodological standard. This assessment seems to be a novel approach to the mainstream–non-mainstream relationship, so the Hungarian audience deeply interested in institutional economics found the lecture highly stimulating.

Michel’s second lecture was focussed on his recent book mentioned above. Here Michel discussed the Keynes-Lucas and the Lucas-RBC transitions. The audience were guided through the dynamic evolution of modern macro starting with Lucas’ early years (an applied economist) and the Lucas-Rapping papers, through the emergence of neo-Walrasian macroeconomics and the new standards for a ‘good’ theoretical research to the outburst of Kydland and Prescott. The lecture was closed by an intense debate. I hope Hungarian professionals found the lectures as thought-provoking as I did.