Sunday, August 30, 2015

Brad DeLong — Live from Yellowstone Lake Lodge: WTF!? Daniel Little: The Case for Realism in the Social Realm


Brad gets critical about critical realism. Regardless of who is correct (how can we know?), it is good to see economists dealing with fundamental ontological and epistemological questions.

Grasping Reality
Live from Yellowstone Lake Lodge: WTF!? Daniel Little: The Case for Realism in the Social RealmBrad DeLong | Professor of Economics, UCAL Berkeley

16 comments:

Matt Franko said...

"Regardless of who is correct (how can we know?)"

You make predictive statements that include a time domain component and those who are competent and qualified will become apparent...

"A scientific theory which is contradicted by observations and evidence will be rejected." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prediction

"19 For it must be that there are sects also among you, that those also who are qualified may be becoming apparent among you." 1 Cor 11:19

Have it either way...

Ryan Harris said...

There is a difference though.
Physics has been highly successful at describing the big and small and has helped humanity solve real problems.

Econ can predict neither the large or small and has been a disaster. People are worse off for its existence. Even including the destruction wrought by the nuclear bomb, Econ does far more damage and destroys more lives every year.

Matt Franko said...

Its a f-ing moron-fest Ryan....

Simon Hawk said...

"moron fest" I love that and I am stealing it.

Ignacio said...

It's a start, making actual falsable predictions, but doesn't guarantee 'you are correct'. You can be apparently correct for the wrong reasons, that's why scientific theories are dished all the time and replaced by more explanatory ones.

However, economists, with their 'negative value added' to human knowledge, are a long way to get to the position to even worry about that. They could start by applying some basics of the scientific method, making falsable hypothesis.

Until then, they are just an ideological gravitational field, attracting all sort of justifying pseudo-science for the economic and power structure that happens to exist at the moment, be it feudalism, 'capitalism', 'communism' or whatever-ism.

Tom Hickey said...

"You make predictive statements that include a time domain component and those who are competent and qualified will become apparent..."

This is another iteration of the philosophical debate debate over whether we know real things or the appearances (sense data) of what we believe are real things. Aristotle vs. Hume, now called critical realism v. empiricism

The issue with testing in the sciences is that most reasoning is stochastic, and if one has been following Lars Syll's blog, it is clear that there are deep issues involved that are not agreed up by the parties to the debate.

One big line issue is certainty v. uncertainty, and probability v. uncertainty. Another is causality. These issue become big deals when it comes to policy formulation.

Conventional economists take a naïve approach to these issues and assume objections away, of just ignore them. Samuelson and Solow admitted that they had lost the Cambridge capital debate but changed nothing in the model as a consequence of it. That condition persists.

Ryan Harris said...

What we measure and how we measure it determine what the data means. Whether it is a coincidental pattern, correlated, causal, dependent, independent, descriptive whatever is pretty well defined by our sampling and population. We know for certain what we can say about the limits of meaning of data based on who and what we measured. For obvious reasons we can't have controlled studies in Econ to determine causality all the time. But how often do mainstream economists state up front, that they are making guesses over correlated patterns? Almost never.

The problems arise because economists take collected data to have meaning beyond what significance it does have. That faulty economic analysis is a lack of training and practitioner ignorance more than a deeper debate over realism v. empiricism. At the fringes, sure, there are going to be issues where we can't know what is real or a mirage but the vast, vast majority of econ, that is not the issue, it is just dishonesty and ignorance.

If the economist knew they were speculating and guessing and disclosed that in the first line of their article or paper, it would help.

Tom Hickey said...

That faulty economic analysis is a lack of training and practitioner ignorance more than a deeper debate over realism v. empiricism. At the fringes, sure, there are going to be issues where we can't know what is real or a mirage but the vast, vast majority of econ, that is not the issue, it is just dishonesty and ignorance.

If the economist knew they were speculating and guessing and disclosed that in the first line of their article or paper, it would help.


Exactly. No deep debate over much of this is necessary when method abuse is the problem.

Matthew Franko said...

Well Tom imo the morons dont even apply a "method"... they learn via "rote" wrt these types of things...

Someone says "printing money causes inflation!" and they just believe it via 'rote', they are not 'creative learners' they dont acquire knowledge via the 'creative learning' process... if they did, then when we would "print" $3T and prices would then be seen to collapse, they would go back and nullify their previous version of their theory... that would be a method or 'system' of learning... I think the Greek word for 'system' is 'methodia'.... they dont acquire knowledge this way they are 'rote' learners...

This way is hard work and frustrating, etc... its like having to 'go back to the drawing board' you have to be tenacious about it and keep after it all the time and keep building knowledge... and not get frustrated... these 'creative learners" or 'disciples' were termed 'mathetai' in the Greek...

The morons dont do this... they are not qualified or competent to do science... sorry.... there is no depth to these people...

They are rote taught ideologues who dont have the cognitive ability required to do material science or the 'scientific method' or 'scientific system'... they are not 'mathetai' .... they should be barred from the academe....

Not everybody learns the same way.... if you are a rote learner, then you should be banned from science... there are plenty of other things a rote learner can do to contribute...

rsp,



Tom Hickey said...

Right, Matt. Such statements are norms disguised as general descriptions.

Matthew Franko said...

Tom,

an airline pilot: they should be 'rote', no creative learning.... , lawyers, no creative learning, doctors, no creative learning, etc...

Bob said...

Whoa, Matt. Creativity is a gift. It should be unwrapped and not discouraged. Thank god we are not all cut out to be factory workers.

Ignacio said...

Matt this is apt and telling of why we have the problems we have nowadays. Put simply, people who are not analytical thinkers shouldn't be even close to positions of authority (decision making). However, how many are on authority positions and are mere ideologues?

I haven't met a single lawyer who is mainly analytical thinker, and see how many lawyers are predominant in politics, top chain of corporations, banks, etc.

There used to be many more engineer-types near authority positions a few decades ago, and they have been substitudes by 'management' types with economics, laws and business degrees. No offence but most of that people is not mentally equipped to take decisions of importance because they are incapable of systems thinking.

They are driven by memory and raw data mastication. Nothing wrong about that, I could never be a good doctor or lawyer, but mechanical thinking is now what is required in governance, at all.

Matt Franko said...

Bob,

If you are on an airplane, you want a pilot who reads the procedure and complies... "set flaps to x and rotate at 150 mph".... to a tee...

You dont want a plot who says to himself, "hmmmm lets try I'll set the flaps at y and rotate at 125 ... lets see how that works...."

Leave the creative stuff to the creative people in creative roles...

None of this would be happening if we had the right people in the economics dept of the academe...

Ignacio, Right this here: "They are driven by memory and raw data mastication." That is rote..

Those people are not unvaluable to mankind (see my pilot example above...) but we have to get the proper people in the proper roles...

rsp,

Bob said...

Matt,

I don't want rote doctors or rote lawyers - lest I want to end up dead or in jail.
I want experienced pilots that can problem solve when the need arises.

Either creativity is in short supply, or we are ensuring that it is.

Matt Franko said...

Bob,

I had a recent conversation with an MD maxio-facial surgeon who is also an associate professor in maxiofacial surgery here at Johns Hopkins (premier US teaching hospital system) ... we were talking about the Joan Rivers death situation...

His point was her mistake was going to a doctor that would let her "order something not on the menu..." might be ok at your favorite restuarant if you want to make yourself feel special but a BIIIIIIGGGG mistake when you need critical/complicated medical care...

We dont need free lancers in roles that call for simple compliant execution...