March 1, 2016

Orthodoxy?―NO, Heterodoxy?―NO: Scrap ALL this crap!

Comment on Noah Smith on ‘Occult Mysteries of the Heterodox’


Economics is a failed science. Orthodoxy has not produced anything of scientific value since Adam Smith (2014) and Heterodoxy has been unable since Veblen to develop a superior alternative (2011). The core problem of economics is that there is nothing to choose (2013).

Economics claims to be a science. This is a serious case of self-delusion. Science is well-defined: “Research is in fact a continuous discussion of the consistency of theories: formal consistency insofar as the discussion relates to the logical cohesion of what is asserted in joint theories; material consistency insofar as the agreement of observations with theories is concerned.” (Klant, 1994, p. 31). The fact of the matter is that neither Orthodoxy nor Heterodoxy fits the bill. Accordingly, what we actually have is what Feynman famously characterized as cargo cult science.

There is absolutely no need for anyone to invent a new methodology. Science has been defined already by the ancient Greeks as formal and material consistency. Economics has never satisfied these standards. Worse, economists violate scientific standards on a daily basis. There is no exception: Walrasian, Keynesian, Marxian, and Austrian economics is provable false.*

The fact that Orthodoxy produces lots of free educational stuff is by no means a merit. Just the contrary, because this stuff is provable false: “In economics we should strive to proceed, wherever we can, exactly according to the standards of the other, more advanced, sciences, where it is not possible, once an issue has been decided, to continue to write about it as if nothing had happened.” (Morgenstern, 1941, pp. 369-370)

Boiled down to the essentials Orthodoxy’s methodological position is “most of what I and many others do is sorta-kinda neoclassical because it takes the maximization-and-equilibrium world as a starting point ” (Krugman). Clearly, everything based on maximization-and-equilibrium is scientific garbage.** No matter how many slides and videos are produced ‘like crazy’ for dull Econ 101 students, it remains garbage in all eternity.

Orthodoxy has been refuted on all counts. What currently parades as economics is a heap of ill-founded opinions. What Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy have in common is scientific incompetence.

The most urgent task for every economist is NOT to produce fancy slides of brain-dead economic models like crazy but as Joan Robinson defined it: Scrap the lot and start again!

For both orthodox and heterodox economists, though, it is already too late. The only thing they can do for the scientific progress of economics is to shut up and retire.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2011). Why Post Keynesianism is Not Yet a Science. SSRN Working Paper Series, 1966438: 1–20. URL
Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2013). Confused Confusers: How to Stop Thinking Like an Economist and Start Thinking Like a Scientist. SSRN Working Paper Series, 2207598: 1–16. URL
Kakarot-Handtke, E. (2014). The Profit Theory is False Since Adam Smith. What About the True Distribution Theory? SSRN Working Paper Series, 2511741: 1–23. URL
Klant, J. J. (1994). The Nature of Economic Thought. Aldershot, Brookfield, VT: Edward Elgar.
Morgenstern, O. (1941). Professor Hicks on Value and Capital. Journal of Political Economy, 49(3): 361–393. URL

* See post ‘How the intelligent non-economist can refute every economist hands down
** See post ‘Economists’ three-layered scientific incompetence

Immediately following post 'The unveiled mystery of economic blather'