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I know less about this topic than I do about Freud.

Someone who I don’t know writes:

Hi Andrew,

I hope this email finds you well.

Hey, that’s interesting: I’m on a first-name basis with this person who cares about my health, but I have no idea who he is. Or if he’s a bot. I guess a bot could care about my health too, inasmuch as a bot can care about anything.

My mysterious correspondent continues:

I just wanted to let you know that I will be writing a new post soon for the ** blog that will be centered on the Quantitative Easing debate. This topic seems to be a popular one of late and I thought I’d see if I could get your views on the topic to include in the piece.

Quantitative easing is no panacea. The Federal Reserve hopes it will never again have to resort to the unprecedented monetary stimulus efforts it took following the great financial crisis under a QE program that ended in late 2014. It seems that the ECB is also looking for an out.

Again, it would be great to get your views on the topic. More specifically:

1. How do you think the Fed will unwind its multi-trillion dollar balance sheet resulting from its stimulus program without severely upsetting the bond and equity markets?

2. And how will the ECB, which is still stuck in a quantitative easing cycle, be able to bring it to an end without plunging Eurozone countries into yet another financial crisis?

Any comments on the subject, even those not answering the questions above, would be highly appreciated.

Thank you very much in advance and I hope to hear back from you soon.

Best regards,

Hey, I think they want . . . free content! On a topic I know nothing about. I mean, absolutely nothing. Sure, I could google *quantitative easing* to find out what the hell this guy is talking about—but, then again, he could google it directly himself.

Why didn’t they ask me about Freud? I’m a Freud expert!


  1. Toby says:

    @Andrew: I think that he or she might be on a first name basis with you because you post on your blog as “Andrew”.

    Personally, if I’d write to you by email, then I’d address you as Prof. Gelman first and Dear Andrew second. Just to be safe as it might offend you otherwise. Even though on your blog in the comments I address you as Andrew because that is the name under which you post. But it is tricky: some address you in the comments as Prof Gelman. What is the right way to address a blogger?

    The inquiry about your health seems like a cultural or generational thing. It seems like a generic question.

    The problem is perhaps also due to the fact you are familiar to your readers. But not many of your readers are familiar to you. I don’t think that readers always realize this. It takes some effort.

    • Andrew says:


      I have no problem at all with complete strangers emailing me and addressing me as Andrew, or Andy, or Drew, or Mr. Gelman, or whatever else they want to call me. What I don’t like is people wasting my time, in this case by asking for content on a topic that I know nothing about and have never written about, even indirectly.

  2. Swimmy says:

    These questions are along the lines of “Do you still beat your wife?”

  3. Jake Humphries says:

    I’ve gotten emails asking Dr Humphries to be a reviewer for X journal and to author chapters of a book. I have no doctorate, and I’ve never worked in the fields of research of the journal or book. I did a Google search and found there was a researcher with my last name that did work in that area. I concluded they we’re trying to contact that person but didn’t use a reliable method to obtain their contact details. Related, I get several emails every year addressed to Jake Humphries in the UK. Apparently a wreckless college student – several we’re from a lawyer he had hired for some trouble he got into during a drunken night out. I also get several years from a bank in Canada, and I’ve never lived in Canada or done any business with any Canadian banks.

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