Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Price of Economics — Peter Radford

 Peter Radford takes down the "economic science profession."

As an academic, I approach the issue somewhat differently. There is nothing inherently "wrong" about specialization and methodological choices. The problem arises begins with naming and extends to capture of an epistemological territory. 

Conventional "economics" has managed to capture an academic field based not on more successful explanation but rather as a result of acquiring the power to sideline competitors, some of whom have been more successful in explanation. This is done by enforcing particular methodological rules on the specious justification that they have proven "superior" and "that the debate is now over."

"Let a hundred flowers bloom." If mathematicians want to pursue the study of economic modeling, why not? But to regard that approach as justifiably exclusive and to manage to impose it through power relationships is madness from the intellectual point of view. Of course, it is highly rewarding from the stance of economics, since it leaves all the choice positions in academic and related fields involving economic advice in the hands of those wielding the power as a group.

It is well-known how at the time of the financial crisis the then reigning queen asked her majesty's economists how they had all missed its onset. But nothing has changed.

The Radford Free Press
The Price of Economics
Peter Radford


Peter Pan said...

If it has political implications, it must be hijacked...

mike norman said...

If economics were a mathematical science it would get things right and make them work. Just like mathematics and physics allow us to build airplanes that actually fly and don't fall out of the sky.

mike norman said...

Economics is politics, pure and simple. Is politics science? No.

Peter Pan said...

Politics is a branch of sociology. Sociology is not a hard science.

Ahmed Fares said...

“Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine - the special pleading of selfish interests. While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.

In addition to these endless pleadings of self-interest, there is a second main factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of man to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.”

— Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson

Matt Franko said...

“Stability creates instability!” …. “genius!”