December 15, 2015

Useful idiots and poor scientists

Comment on Fred Welfare on ‘Dani Rodrik’s smorgasbord view of economic models’


You say “Models should be evaluated on the basis of their usefulness.”

Economists are the champions of use-value and utility maximization. This explains why they have never produced anything of scientific value.

“True science is distinctively the study of useless things. For the useful things will get studied without the aid of scientific men. To employ these rare minds on such work is like running a steam engine by burning diamonds.” (Peirce, 1931, 1.76)

Scientific thinking is guided by the criterion true/false and nothing else. Usefulness is only a good argument for selling mothballs and models.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Peirce, C. S. (1931). Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, volume I. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. URL

For details of the bigger picture see cross-references Scientific Incompetence.