Friday, January 12, 2018

Lars P. Syll — Is economics — really — a science?

The debate goes on.

Lars P. Syll’s Blog
Is economics — really — a science?
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University


Kaivey said...

Well, I totally agree with that. Surely economics is a soft science because it is a study of human behaviour and so is like psychology and sociology? Anyway, what I always hate about those equations is the amount of suffering that is hidden. In the race to the bottom people get maxed and stressed out and may end up spending hours at work just to afford the rent and to eat. We are getting our shopping delivered by the supermarket now and the delivery guy said he gets 11 seconds a drop. Impossible!

Tom Hickey said...

It is a debate that is based on logical fallacy employed politically in the aid of power and domination to lend authority to conventional economics.

The fallacy is conflating "science" and "scientific" with "authoritative" and "definitive."

It's dogmatism based on sophistry.

Andrew Anderson said...

I suggested adding these:

(7) Stop ignoring the role of banks in the economy.

And for those economists who don’t:

(8) Stop pretending we can have honest accounting when the liabilities of the banks, etc. toward the non-bank private sector (for fiat) are largely a sham since the non-bank private sector may not even use fiat except in the form of grubby, unsafe, inconvenient physical fiat, a.k.a. “cash”.

Andrew Anderson said...

And perhaps (for the morally clueless, you know who you are, both on the Left and the Right):

(9) Stop pretending that honesty and ethics are not necessary for a sound economy, world peace and sustainable prosperity.

Jonathan Larson said...

As someone who has a substantial background in engineering and the hard sciences, I find myself nearly speechless when an economist claims to be a 'scientist.' No you are NOT. And unlike the people who design 550 mile / hr jetliners, economists never have to demonstrate that their understanding of the world is correct. What is even more amazing, economists take pride in their scientific and technological ignorance. It would seem difficult to explain modern societies without a basic understanding of how automobiles are made, but that problem does NOT bother these guys in search of a more elegant math formulation of a science-based world they don't even want to understand.

Of course Syll should understand this problem better than most because he is close to ground zero for the big lie that economics is a hard science. The freaking Riksbank prize has legitimized more economic madness than any other prize or institution. The parade of crackpots awarded the Riksbank prize is most notorious for their error. I understand the Swedish right wing was probably pretty angry about being shut out of government for over 45 years, but they have certainly been victorious ever since (murder of Palme?) because they promoted the most reactionary economics imaginable—one that has poisoned the whole globe.

Andrew Anderson said...

Paul Krugman: "Never touch the money system!"

Kaivey said...

So there you go, Paul Krugman, another one bought by the system.

Noah Way said...

Economics is science in the same way that Scientology is a religion.

Andrew Anderson said...

There's those who won't touch it and there's those who say that that inherently unjust system merely needs to be regulated better and/or that the victims of it need not be compensated but merely put to work as wage slaves for government.

But how does one regulate theft without becoming an accomplice to it? Likewise with standing in the way of just compensation for the victims?

Noah Way said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Larson said...

I have spent large blocks of time reading the output of the midwest progressive / populists on the money question (roughly 1873-1941). These guys were very perceptive about what money and banking should look like if it was organized to assist in the economic development of the community. The fact that the Non-Partisan League in North Dakota made a true state bank their top priority in 1917 was no accident. The Bank of North Dakota is still the most enlightened lending agency in the land. ND is also the only state lucky enough to have one.

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel here. If we can merely get back to the ideas about money of our great-grandfathers, we will have made a huge step in the right direction. Saves a lot of time.

Matt Franko said...

"9) Stop pretending that honesty and ethics are not necessary for a sound economy, world peace and sustainable prosperity."

what are you going to start posting videos of people singing Kumbaya now???

AXEC / E.K-H said...

NOTE on Lars Syll’s Is economics ― really ― a science?

Economics: a science without scientists

The economist as standup comedian

Economists, stupid or corrupt or both?

Again and again: economists are incompetent scientists

Nothing to choose between Orthodoxy and traditional Heterodoxy

Say hello to Lars Syll, Keynes’ last parrot

Don Lars and the axiomatic windmill

Heterodoxy, too, is scientific junk

Throw them out! Orthodox and heterodox economists are unfit for science

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#Economics #FailedScience #FakeScience #CargoCultScience #BogusScience #ScientificIncompetence #OrthodoxEconomics #HeterodoxEconomics #Pluralism #Econ101 #NewEconomicThinking #MakeEconTrue #ParadigmShift #Science #MacroFoundations #Axiomatization

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Lars Syll, fake scientist
Comment on Lars Syll’s ‘Is economics ― really ― a science?’

The state of economics is this: theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by political economists (= agenda pushers). Political economics has produced NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years.

The four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent and all got the foundational concept of the subject matter ― profit ― wrong. As a result of the utter scientific incompetence of the representative economist, what has been achieved is the pluralism of provably false theories.#1

It is rather comical when folks that have produced nothing but proto-scientific rubbish talk about scientific methodology. Economic methodology is even more absurd than economics itself. Economic methodologists have not even spotted blatant methodological blunders like petitio principii or inconsistent definitions which are entirely sufficient to refute every approach on purely methodological grounds.#2, #3

The self-appointed methodologists Lars Syll is a case in point. He has one valid point, that is, Walrasian economics in the current incarnation of DSGE is false on all counts. That’s all. He never advanced to the insight that Keynesianism ― the approach he propagates ― is not significantly better. It cannot be said that he understands what science is all about and how this applies to economics.#4

To recall, the objective of economics is the true theory which, in turn, is the humanly best mental representation of reality: “Research is, in fact, a continuous discussion of the consistency of theories: formal consistency insofar as the discussion relates to the logical cohesion of what is asserted in joint theories; material consistency insofar as the agreement of observations with theories is concerned.” (Klant)

Walrasian economics is materially and formally inconsistent, true but this holds also for Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism and this is why economics is a failed science.#5

Lars Syll’s arguments against Walrasian Orthodoxy are rather silly

• “… manifest inability to foresee the latest financial and economic crises.” To predict the future is, as a matter of principle, not the business of science but of charlatans.#6

• “Neither the economist, nor the deciding individual, can fully pre-specify how people will decide when facing uncertainties and ambiguities that are ontological facts of the way the world works.” Economics, properly understood, does NOT deal with the behavior of people but with the behavior of the economic system. Human Nature/motives/behavior/action is the business of Psychology/Sociology and other so-called social sciences. Economics is a system science.#7

See part 2

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Part 2

• “There are no universal laws in economics.” There are no universal behavioral laws in economics. This is true but irrelevant because economics is NOT a science of behavior but a system science. To be sure, there are systemic laws but economists have not figured them out because they wasted 200+ years with folk psychology, i.e. with waffling about rationality, selfishness, utility maximization, rational expectations or uncertainty.

• “We have to build our models on assumptions that are not so blatantly in contradiction to reality.” Trivially true, but if Lars Syll knows how to do it why don’t he apply his superior methodology and shows the results? As J. S. Mill told the slyboots who never rose above the level of vacuous methodological blather “Doubtless, the most effectual mode of showing how the sciences of Ethics and Politics may be constructed, would be to construct them . . .”

At some point, though, orthodox and heterodox incompetence turns into self-deception and deception of the general public. This point is reached with the false claim that economics is a science as expressed in the title “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”.

At present, economics is not a science but what Feynman called a cargo cult science. Make no mistake, BOTH orthodox AND heterodox economics is integral part of the fake. One of the best examples is the scientific failure and self-appointed methodology loudspeaker Lars Syll.#8

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Economics: a science without scientists

#2 Economics, methodology, morals ― a creepy freak-show

#3 Axiomatized nonentities and the failure of methodologists

#4 The irrelevance of economics

#5 Economists, stupid or corrupt or both?

#6 Science does NOT predict the future

#7 If it isn’t macro-axiomatized, it isn’t economics

#8 Nothing to choose between Orthodoxy and traditional Heterodoxy

ANC Driver said...

I'm not sure economics will ever be science or even if it was ever the intention it be a science, because unlike every other science, such as physics, biology, etc, where people have accepted the fact that they we are all subject to the law of gravity, metabolism and so forth, it does not seem apparent people have ever, nor ever will, accept the fact that whilst we treat everything around us as property we are all subject to the law of competition, which states that for every winner (creditor) there must be a loser (debtor), and that we are all subject to the maxims of equity when we take on debt. Almost every treatment of economics I have read over the last few years always seems to assume that we can treat resources as property and create wealth without debt, and because of this apparent assumption, a utopia is just a few policies away. The strange thing is, we are not all bound by some law of nature to treat everything as property - this is something that we politically created over the centuries.

The study of economics should be no different to the mapping of the cause and effect of each move in a game of monopoly once all the properties are owned. Then, like the real world, every move becomes subject to the law of chance for the roll of the dice, and subject to the laws of property and debt every time we land on a square - there is no subjectivity left at that point. In the real world, every move I make is either increasing my money stock to the detriment of anothers stock, or increasing anothers stock to the detriment of my stock - there is nothing else. No move I make under the laws of property allows me to simultaneously increase my own money stock and at the same time increase everyone elses. Can anyone show me how I can increase my own stock and at the same time increase everyone elses?

Tom Hickey said...

@ANC Driver

A monetary production economy under capitalism resembles a casino, where the house sets the odds and controls the game.

ANC Driver said...

Yes, and the house is always under constant attack from the middle class wanting to gain access to it through the increase of accumulated financial assets (including super).

Ironically, a report I just read, in Australia, our compulsory Super scheme is now 25 years old, and yet taken as a whole, Australians have accumulated the same amount of household debt as their combined super has accumulated - therefore, savings in Australia is net zero since its inceptions, completely failing its purpose.

So, those controlling the house got smart and convinced everyone to pile on more debt to keep savings less than net investments plus distributed profits.