Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Nobel for the Randomistas — Peter Dorman

I don’t think anyone was surprised by this year’s “Nobel” prize in economics, which went to three American-based specialists in the design of on-the-ground experiments in low income countries, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer. I think the award has merit, but it is important to keep in mind the severe limitations of the work being honored....
On balance, I think it’s fine that this prize honors experimentalism, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the larger picture. Using experimental methods to incorporate more learning in program administration should be standard practice; perhaps some day it will be. But the big problems in poverty and oppression are too complex and encompassing to be reduced to experimental bits, and there is no substitute for theoretical analysis and a willingness to take chances with large-scale collective.

Micro approach versus macro. Conclusions cannot be extended beyond the scope and scale of the model, no matter how well-designed the experiment may be. Development economics assumes a large scale context. According to Peter Dorman, the work for which the prize was awarded does not deal with  the hard problem of development economics.

We want to avoid the damned if you do and damned if you don't bias, which Peter Dorman seeks to do. The experimental method lies at the basis of scientific method and should be used where it fits. But it doesn't fit everywhere and a shoehorns and girdles should not be used to make it fit either.

The other issue is with randomization, which Lars Syll has pursued in depth at his blog over the years. It's not a straightforward in social science as it is in natural science owing to the subject matter.

Angry Bear
A Nobel for the Randomistas
Peter Dorman | Professor of Political Economy, The Evergreen State College

See also

Oxfam Blogs — From Poverty to Power
The Randomistas just won the Nobel Economics prize. Here’s why RCTs aren’t a magic bullet.
Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB


Matt Franko said...

"The experimental method lies at the basis of scientific method and should be used where it fits. But it doesn't fit everywhere "

Yes it does it discriminates and discards the false outcomes ... continuously... this is the way everything successful works..

Tom youre sooooo biased towards Platonism which does not discriminate and includes all kinds of false outcomes rather than discriminate and shit-can them and here we are continuing to be ruled by those of similar platonistic method and then "we're out of money!"... "borrowing from the Chinese!" ... "borrowing from our grandchildren!".. "fiscal unsustainable!" "printing money!" "injecting!" etc.. all sorts of empirically FALSE SHIT is never discarded...

Nobody successful uses the platonistic method since that methodology was itself shit-canned in about 1860 and we established the Science Degree...

all the fucked up shit can be traced right back to this loser methodology being employed where it shouldnt be...

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Scrap the EconNobel
Comment on Peter Dorman on ‘A Nobel for the Randomistas’

Peter Dorman comments: “I don’t think anyone was surprised by this year’s ‘Nobel’ prize in economics, which went to three American-based specialists in the design of on-the-ground experiments in low income countries, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer.”

Indeed, the EconNobel has been criticized on various grounds: (i) male-predominance, (ii) theory-predominance, (iii) rich-western-capitalism-focused (iv) geriatric-predominance (v) University of Chicago bias. All these biases have been addressed and solved to everybody’s satisfaction with the team of young/female/poverty-concerned/empirical/Cambridge-MA prize winners.

One problem, though, has been carefully avoided, i.e. that economics is NOT a science to this day. The major approaches — Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT — are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent and all got the foundational economic concept profit wrong. Economics is a failed science.

Economics has NEVER been a science but a smokescreen for political agenda-pushing. BOTH orthodox and heterodox economists are NOT scientists but clowns and useful idiots in the political Circus Maximus. The “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences” is a fraud for 50 years.#1

Peter Dorman wonders “Carefully controlled social experiments can be very expensive! When I read the work of the prize-winners and their coauthors, I often find myself wondering how much did it cost to do this research, and who paid for it? This is a form of Big Science, and it requires big support.”

This is an easy question. Economics departments, chairs, institutions, and pre-selected individuals are traditionally funded by the Oligarchy. Rockefeller called the university ‘the best investment’ he ever made. In our days, though, the quality of sponsors/funders/agenda-pushers has considerably deteriorated. The active players are not at all secret, the New York Times shows a meeting-photo of well-known billionaire Jeffrey Epstein and well-known Harvard economist and political busybody Larry Summers.#2

From all this one can conclude with a high degree of probability that the EconNobel is a well-calculated, Oligarchy-sponsored, aristocracy-decorated PR stunt that has much to do with the deception of the general public and NOTHING at all with science.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 For details see

#2 New York Times

AXEC / E.K-H said...


Barkley Rosser

You say: “Look, Nobel prizes, including even the ‘fake’ economics one given out by the Sveriges Riksbank for the last half century, focus on people who generate new ideas, not policymakers who may have achieved successful outcomes.”

This, of course, is absolutely correct. But then, is your discussion about whether China or the Massachusetts team has been more successful in alleviating poverty not a bit beside the point?

What you are constantly doing is to confound science and politics. This is a hereditary mental and moral disease among economists since Adam Smith. However, the founding fathers were at least honest people and called themselves Political Economists. The denomination “political” was later scrapped by Jevons. This was roughly at the same time when the War Ministries were renamed Defense Ministries.

What the general public does not understand is that there is political economics and theoretical economics. The main differences are: (i) The goal of political economics is to successfully push an agenda, the goal of theoretical economics is to successfully explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics, the scientific standards of material and formal consistency are observed.

The fraud of economists consists of telling the public that they are doing science while, in fact, they are doing agenda-pushing. The fraud is in the title “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”. There would be no problem at all if the title was “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Propaganda on Behalf of the US Oligarchy”.

With regard to ‘Economic Sciences’, economists are still behind the curve:

• Science manifests itself in the form of the true theory.
• Truth is well-defined by material and formal consistency.
• Logical consistency is secured by applying the axiomatic-deductive method and material consistency is secured by applying state-of-art testing.
• The true theory/model is the humanly best mental representation of reality.
• The major approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT ― are axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and mutually contradictory.
• Orthodox and heterodox economics is failed/fake/cargo-cult science, i.e. political agenda-pushing without valid scientific foundations.

The “alleviation of global poverty” by the Massachusetts team is politically fictitious and scientifically worthless.

The political reality is that MMT academics claim on the basis of an algebraically false sectoral balances equation that public deficits are beneficial for WeThePeople and that they increase “private wealth” while the analytically correct balances equation says that Public Deficit = Private Profit which is obviously beneficial alone to the Oligarchy.

So, while academic economists pretend with this year’s EconNobel to care about the alleviation of poverty, they politically accept/promote the explosion of the Oligarchy’s financial wealth by exploding the public debt.

Clearly, economists have to be thrown out of the scientific community.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke