Sunday, November 24, 2013

Merijn Knibbe — Malinvaud on how USA economists increasingly dismissed measurement

One of the problems of the economics curriculum is that very little attention is paid to measurement. And indeed, academic economists generally know little about this as most measurement is carried out by specialized statistical institutes. What about the history of this regrettable situation? The French economist Malinvaud (and long time head of the French statistical institute INSEE) has a nice metric on how USA economists increasingly dismissed empirical economics (let alone actual measurement) and turned to a-empirical ´high theory´ littered will ill-defined variables instead:

Real-World Economics Review Blog
Malinvaud on how USA economists increasingly dismissed measurement
Merijn Knibbe

Lord Kelvin: “Science is measurement.”

Science is distinguished from philosophy and other speculative thought based on reasoning in that first principles are rejected in favor of empirically determinable assumptions as starting points and empirical testing of hypotheses is based on measurement of observables in accordance with rigorous experimental methodology. Thought experiments are only heuristic devices and cannot be taken as in anyway definitive scientifically. 

Is much of conventional economic modeling actually thought experiments masquerading as definitive scientifically? Is the result social, political, and economic speculation — "philosophy" — rather than science, whose results have an empirical warrant in addition to a logical pedigree in a deductive system based on assumptions?

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