July 2, 2015

It's all over — but for whom?

Comment on Dave Marsay on ‘It’s all over — Gödel’s incompleteness theorems’


Vagueness and inconclusiveness is a second-best strategy to avoid outright falsification. This helps to stay in business with a silly theory.

“Another thing I must point out is that you cannot prove a vague theory wrong.” (Feynman, 1992, p. 158)

For the same reason is Gödel, who shows another limit of proof, so often cited by the muddle heads of the so-called social sciences. Similarly with Duhem-Quine.

Already von Neumann identified fogginess as the root cause of substandard scientific performance. “I think it is the lack of quite sharply defined concepts that the main difficulty lies, and not in any intrinsic difference between the fields of economics and other sciences.” (von Neumann, quoted in Mirowski, 2002, p. 146 fn. 49)

Economists cannot afford to get out of the home zone of inconclusiveness between true and false. “... suppose they [the economists] did reject all theories that were empirically falsified ... Nothing would be left standing; there would be no economics.” (Hands, 2001, p. 404)

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Feynman, R. P. (1992). The Character of Physical Law. London: Penguin.
Hands, D.W. (2001). Reflection without Rules. Economic Methodology and Contemporary Science Theory. Cambridge, New York, NY, etc: Cambridge University Press.
Mirowski, P. (2002). Machine Dreams. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

For details about the significance of Gödel, axiomatization, and mathiness see here and here and here