January 9, 2017

Failed economics: The losers’ long list of lame excuses

Comment on Lars Syll on ‘Relevance is not irrelevant’

Blog-Reference and Blog-Reference on Jan 12 and Blog-Reference on Jan 14

Economics is a failed science, that is, the four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory and axiomatically false. More specifically, it is not only so that orthodox/standard/mainstream economics is false as Heterodoxy ritually asserts, but traditional Heterodoxy, too, is false and never provided a valid alternative. What we actually have is the pluralism of well-established false theories.

As a consequence, the heap of proto-scientific rubbish grows with every peer-reviewed issue of ranked quality journals. All grand debates end where they started, that is, in the swamp of conceptual confusion, undecidability, impenetrable mishmash, category mistake, inconsistent definitions, cross-talk, and inconclusiveness. Accordingly, the scientific content of economic textbooks from Samuelson to Mankiw and Rodrik is below the level of a Donald Duck cartoon.

Neither orthodox nor heterodox economists can explain how the economy works but they can indeed explain why economics does not work. Tell the representative economist that his approach is a scientific failure, i.e., materially and formally inconsistent#1, and you will get one of the standard excuses immediately back like a ping-pong ball. After all, economists are playing their fruitless blame/deny game since 200+ years. It has become a Pavlovian reflex.
  • We know this. Nothing is perfect. The best and brightest are already working on the problem.
  • All models are unrealistic/false.
  • Economics is not a Science with a capital S.
  • Economics is an inexact and separate science.
  • Economics lacks the experimental method as a way of testing hypotheses.
  • The economy is extremely complex. Too many things are always happening at once.
  • Economics is more like meteorology than physics.
  • The economy is too messy to be fitted into the mold of a well-behaved, complete model.
  • The problem of model selection is that the embedded tests are inconclusive.
  • Novelty/emergence is unpredictable in principle.
  • The inferences that can be made from history are always uncertain, always disputable.
  • The ‘laws’ of behavior change and evolve.
  • Economics neither is nor can be a science and has always operated more like a church.
  • The assumptions are reasonable. The assumptions don’t matter. The assumptions are conservative. You can’t prove the assumptions are wrong. You have to make assumptions in order to make progress.
  • There are always differences of opinion at the cutting edge of a science.
  • The critique is justified for the past but now we use more sophisticated techniques/powerful tools.
  • It is trivially true because it is an accounting identity.
  • It is a vacuous accounting identity of little interest.
  • This is not a contradiction, it is like Schrödinger's cat which can be both dead and alive.
  • There is no such thing as absolute truth.
  • Truth is subjective, everyone has only his own little piece of it.
  • Truth is what the majority of experts agree upon.
  • Reality is a social construct.
  • In economics, there is a pluralism of truths.
  • In economics ‘nothing is clear and everything is possible.’ (Keynes)
  • It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.
  • The issue is largely definitional and, as Lewis Carroll pointed out, everyone is entitled to his own definitions. (Blinder)
  • The axiomatic-deductive method for establishing material/logical consistency is not applicable in economics.
  • There is a trade-off between rigor and relevance.
  • Economics is more about understanding, pattern-/gestalt-recognition, quality, nonlinearity than simple quantitative relationships.
  • Econometrics is inconclusive because its epistemological and ontological presuppositions do not apply.
  • The models aren’t totally useless. You have to do the best you can with the data.
  • Disagreement/contradiction is only on the surface. Economists do not differ with respect to fundamental principles, e.g. the effects of minimum wages, but only with regard to policy implications.
  • Economics is faced with ontological uncertainty: “We simply do not know.” (Keynes)
  • You have to give the models the benefit of the doubt.
  • The mainstream consensus is the default, and not recognizing the mainstream consensus or mainstream definitions are failing to lean over backward and show Feynman Integrity. 
  • Not a single one of the bright young minds that are the future of economics write the papers that the critics claim are what all of economic research is like today.
  • We’re only doing what everybody else does. If we don’t do it, someone else will.
  • Credo quia absurdum = I believe because it is absurd.
  • What would you do?
The clear-cut answer to this rhetorical question is: (i) No longer accept silly excuses. (ii) Retire the throng of superfluous economists. The crass scientific incompetence of economists is the ultimate cause of mass unemployment, deflation, depression, stagnation and no state/society can afford the intellectual dead-weight of its economists.#2 (iii) Do the paradigm shift from provable false Walrasian microfoundations and provable false Keynesian macrofoundations to true systemic macrofoundations.#3 (iv) Forget the last 200+ years of proto-scientific economics.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 For more details and references see the posts:
All models are false because all economists are stupid
Complexity and stupidity
Economists and their silly excuses
Methodology 101, economic filibuster, and the mother of all excuses
Why economics is a failed science: the 25 best explanations/excuses
Equilibrium is stone dead — and now?
Heterodoxy and the re-invention of science
A heap of scientific rubbish
Economic recommendations out of the swamp between true and false
Postmodernism — the philosophy of scientific write-offs
Are economists methodological retards?
Either stupid or duplicitous
End of confusion
Economics: The pluralism of false theories is over
The economist as standup comedian
Economics is NOT a social science
Economics is not a science, not a religion, but proto-scientific rubbish
Critique of conventional economics: The well-nigh complete list
#2 As Napoleon said: don’t listen to economists
#3 From Orthodoxy to Heterodoxy to Sysdoxy and 'True macrofoundations: the reset of economics'

Related 'New Economic Thinking: the 10 crucial points' and 'How economists habitually mess it up' and 'Macro for dummies'