OUR list of influential economists has attracted lots of attention, much of it critical. In no particular order, it ignores women; privileges gaffes over real influence; and leaves out the most important economists of all, central-bank governors. Some of the criticism is constructive, but much of it misunderstands how and why it was put together. This is not a ranking of the most influential economists of 2014, but a list of those economists who got most attention in the last quarter of 2014. It is not an annual event, but an experiment. Here is a fuller explanation of what we did.

Economists increasingly are a part of important public debates, wielding influence in a way that academic citations alone fail to capture. We wanted to see whose voice counted most in the public arena. We could have just made up our own qualitative list: Krugman, Piketty, Summers, etc. But we wanted to try and get a bit crunchier than that, so decided to look specifically at which economists’ opinions have had most impact online.