Thursday, August 29, 2019

Once upon a time — Diane Coyle

Diane Coyle reviews Robert Shiller's new book, Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events, on the power of narrative, i.e., story. The most ancient from of knowledge transmission in social reproduction was myth. Mythos means "story" in Greek. Ancient cultures were characterized by teaching stories.

This so-called primitive technology (concepts and numbers) still works to influence. Why? Because it is holistic, engaging the spectrum of human response. MMT presentation makes liberal use of narrative technique, e.g., "ten dogs and nine bones." Anyone can get that.
As the preface notes, the idea isn’t new; the 1894 Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political Economy mentions narrative economics. Robert Merton’s well-known concept of self-fulfilling (or self-averting) prophecies covers much of the territory of narrative dynamics. But perhaps today’s economy is more vulnerable than ever to contagion. An early chart in the book illustrates the surge in the proportion of articles across several socal science and humanities disciplines that contain the word ‘narrative’. Economics and finance are well behind history (of course) but also anthropology, sociology and political science.
Anyway, the book is about how narrative contagion affects economic events. It has in mind epidemic models, as well as – well, narratives. Each chapter focuses on a number of examples. The first section starts with Bitcoin as an example of how narrative affected behaviour and outcomes, then introduces some of the concepts concerning how narratives ‘go viral’ and the psychology of contagion. Part 2 is a brief section setting out ‘seven propositions of narrative economics’ (including ‘truth is not enough to stop false narratives’. Quite.) Part 3 describes recurring economic narratives such as financial boom and bust, or automation and jobs. The final part of the book sets out questions for research....
The Enlightened Economist
Once upon a time
Diane Coyle | freelance economist and a former advisor to the UK Treasury. She is a member of the UK Competition Commission and is acting Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation

1 comment:

AXEC / E.K-H said...

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Comment on Diane Coyle’s ‘Once upon a time’

All appearances to the contrary, economics is NOT a science but political agenda pushing. The format of popular propaganda is, of course, NOT the abstract theory but a concrete narrative. For a narrative, there is NO need to satisfy the scientific criteria of material and formal consistency. Doing away with semantic smoke what remains is the plain fact that narrative is just another word for political fraud. The self-styled enlightened economist Diane Coyle herself is a talented producer of proto-scientific garbage.

The economist as storyteller


Economics as storytelling and entertainment for the masses

If religion is opium of the people, economics is crack of the people

Economists simply don’t get it

Macroeconomics ― dead since Keynes

Knowledge only — no opinion

How to be a good scientist

Lazy or stupid or both?

Circus Maximus: Economics as entertainment, personality gossip, virtue signaling, and lifestyle promotion

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke