July 25, 2015

Stubbornly in the wrong research program

Comment on Fredrick Welfare on ‘The Keynes-Ramsey-Savage debate on probability’


You say: “The failure to update beliefs and predictions given contradictory evidence constitutes irrationality.”

Because you do not understand the relationship between theory and evidence, you — as both orthodox and heterodox economists — do not understand what science is all about.

“I shall never be able to express strongly enough my admiration for the greatness of mind of these men who conceived this [heliocentric] hypothesis and held it to be true. In violent opposition to the evidence of their own senses and by sheer force of intellect, they preferred what reason told them to that which sense experience plainly showed them ... I repeat, there is no limit to my astonishment when I reflect how Aristarchus and Copernicus were able to let conquer sense, and in defiance of sense make reason the mistress of their belief.” (Galileo, quoted in Popper, 1994, p. 84)

The key words are ‘sheer force of intellect.’ And this gives you the explanation of why economists are stuck in a pointless wish-wash about utility, equilibrium, expected utility, uncertainty, and the abuse of mathematics by formalizing nonentities. There is not much difference between the Ramsey-Keynes debate and the angels-on-a-pinpoint debate of yore.

Indeed, is there any difference in pseudo-logical hypotheticalness between “angels can fly because they have wings” and “... that people had to behave in this way because if they did not, people would devise schemes that made money at their expense”? And is it not astounding that economists buy these kinds of arguments? And what does this tell you about their ‘sheer force of intellect?’

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Popper, K. R. (1994). The Myth of the Framework. In Defence of Science and Rationality., chapter Science: Problems, Aims, Responsibilities, 82–111. London, New York: Routledge.