Friday, November 29, 2013

Lars P. Syll — Economics textbooks – how to get away with scientific fraud

Lars is on a tear.
As is well-known, Keynes used to criticize the more traditional economics for making thefallacy of composition, which basically consists of the false belief that the whole is nothing but the sum of its parts. Keynes argued that in the society and in the economy this was not the case, and that a fortiori an adequate analysis of society and economy couldn’t proceed by just adding up the acts and decisions of individuals. The whole is more than a sum of parts.
This fact shows up already when orthodox – neoclassical – economics tries to argue for the existence of The Law of Demand – when the price of a commodity falls, the demand for it will increase – on the aggregate. Although it may be said that one succeeds in establishing The Law for single individuals it soon turned out – in the Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu theorem firmly established already in 1976 – that it wasn’t possible to extend The Law of Demand to apply on the market level, unless one made ridiculously unrealistic assumptions such as individuals all having homothetic preferences – which actually implies that all individuals have identical preferences.
This could only be conceivable if there was in essence only one actor – the (in)famousrepresentative actor. So, yes, it was possible to generalize The Law of Demand – as long as we assumed that on the aggregate level there was only one commodity and one actor. What generalization! Does this sound reasonable? Of course not. This is pure nonsense!
How has neoclassical economics reacted to this devastating finding? Basically by looking the other way, ignoring it and hoping that no one sees that the emperor is naked.
Economics textbooks – how to get away with scientific fraud
Lars P. Syll | Professor, Malmo University

1 comment:

Roger Erickson said...

The OSDMs saw this coming a mile away. Or, at least their lawyers did.

Since it's not technically a science, they literally cannot commit scientific fraud.