September 15, 2017

Why is economics such a scientific embarrassment?

Comment on Christopher Snyder on ‘What are economists for?’

Blog-Reference and Blog-Reference

Economics is a failed science because economists are scientifically incompetent. This applies to both the orthodox and heterodox species. Heterodox economists persistently point at what they regard as the unacceptable portions of Orthodoxy but they have not come up with a valid alternative since Jevons/Walras/Menger.

Christopher Snyder defines economics thus: “One short answer is that economics is the social science focusing on people’s material well-being, the ‘business side’ of life.”

Christopher Snyder still clings to the fatal error of the founding fathers, i.e., that economics is a so-called social science. Obviously, he has not heard that Feynman has debunked the so-called social sciences wholesale as cargo cult sciences: “They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. ... But it doesn’t work. ... So I call these things cargo cult science because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential.”

Economists, to begin with, lack a real understanding of science, they are cargo cult scientists. For the general public, it is important to know that there are TWO economixes: 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.

Economic policy presupposes knowledge of how the economic system works. This knowledge is embodied in the true theory: “In order to tell the politicians and practitioners something about causes and best means, the economist needs the true theory or else he has not much more to offer than educated common sense or his personal opinion.” (Stigum)

Because of the lack of the true theory the policy guidance of economists ― Walrasians, Keynesians, Marxians, Austrians, and Pluralists ― has no sound scientific foundations.#1

Economics had the bad luck to start as Political Economy. This means that the political agenda had been given and the argumentation had to support the agenda. Theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by political economists (= agenda pushers). The methodological Ur-blunder of economics consists of defining economics as a social science. Economics is a system science.

Supply-demand-equilibrium economists are in the state of incorrigible self-delusion/idiocy/ corruption. They do not know what science is and ignore or even actively suppress refutation. As Morgenstern reminded his fellow economists back in 1941: “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.”

From the standpoint of science, the economist is worse than the snake oil seller and fraudster because as a fake scientist he causes severe economic damages.#2 This is known since Napoleon: “Late in life… he claimed that he had always believed that if an empire were made of granite the ideas of economists, if listened to, would suffice to reduce it to dust.” (Viner)

Economics is NOT a science. Both orthodox and heterodox economics is just storytelling. There is neither material or formal consistency. The ultimate cause of failure is the scientific incompetence of economists since Adam Smith.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Why economists don’t know what profit is
#2 Mass unemployment: The joint failure of orthodox and heterodox economics

Related 'Solving Mill’s starting problem' and 'The new macroeconomic paradigm'