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 major approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, and materially/formally inconsistent. 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 provably false theories.

As a consequence, the heap of proto-scientific garbage 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/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 for 200+ years. It has become a Pavlovian reflex. This is the list of false/thoroughly refuted/beside-the-point answers
  1. We know this. Nothing is perfect. The best and brightest are already working on the problem.
  2. All theories/models are unrealistic/‘wrong’.
  3. Economics is not a Science with a capital S.
  4. Economics is an inexact and separate science.
  5. Economics lacks the experimental method as a way of testing hypotheses.
  6. The economy is extremely complex. Too many things are always happening at once.
  7. Economics is more like meteorology than physics.
  8. The economy is too messy to be fitted into the mold of a well-behaved, complete model.
  9. The problem of model selection is that the embedded tests are inconclusive.
  10. Novelty/emergence is unpredictable in principle.
  11. The inferences that can be made from history are always uncertain, always disputable.
  12. The ‘laws’ of behavior change and evolve.
  13. Economics neither is nor can be a science and has always operated more like a church.
  14. The subject matter of economics is not ergodic.
  15. 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.
  16. There are always differences of opinion at the cutting edge of science.
  17. The critique is justified for the past but now we use more sophisticated techniques/powerful tools or We-were-a-bit-wrong-then-but-now-we-are-vibrantly-on-the-right-track.
  18. It is trivially true because it is an accounting identity; it is a vacuous accounting identity of little interest; it is just an ex-post accounting identity that has to be true by definition and has no real economic importance.
  19. This is not a contradiction, it is like Schrödinger's cat which can be both dead and alive.
  20. There is no such thing as absolute truth.
  21. Truth is subjective, everyone has only his own little piece of it.
  22. Truth is what the majority of experts agree upon.
  23. Reality is a social construct.
  24. In economics, there is a pluralism of truths.
  25. In economics ‘nothing is clear and everything is possible.’ (Keynes)
  26. It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.
  27. The issue is largely definitional and, as Lewis Carroll pointed out, everyone is entitled to his own definitions. (Blinder)
  28. The axiomatic-deductive method for establishing material/logical consistency is not applicable to economics.
  29. There is a trade-off between rigor and relevance.
  30. Economics is more about understanding, pattern-/gestalt-recognition, quality, nonlinearity than simple quantitative relationships.
  31. Econometrics is inconclusive because its epistemological and ontological presuppositions do not apply.
  32. The models aren’t totally useless. You have to do the best you can with the data.
  33. 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.
  34. Economics is faced with ontological uncertainty: “We simply do not know.” (Keynes)
  35. 'Nobody knows anything.' Hollywood adage
  36. Economists have hitherto not sufficiently distinguished between known knowns, unknown knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.
  37. Heisenberg and Gödel have proved that certain knowledge is physically and mathematically impossible.
  38. Max Planck considered studying economics in his youth, but had found it “too difficult.”
  39. You have to give the models the benefit of the doubt.
  40. 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.
  41. The mainstream is superior, otherwise, it would not be the mainstream. So, by default, mainstreamers do not suffer from Dunning-Kruger but those who say that economics is a failed/fake science.
  42. Not a single one of the bright young minds that are the future of economics writes the papers that the critics claim are what all of the economic research is like today. Most critics of economics are stuck in the past.
  43. The criticisms that academic economists face have little or no academic grounding. Most of the criticism is fake economics.
  44. The critics should read more because however well intended, generalized attacks on a discipline that are not based on familiarity are pointless.
  45. As the physicist, Richard Wheeler put it: "Reality is defined by the questions you put to it".
  46. Historically, economics has been very insular but now it is more pluralistic.
  47. The globally eminent economists are too close to G20 policymakers.
  48. Economic science cannot be blamed if politicians don’t learn.
  49. The public is demanding too much.
  50. Economics has not failed and, as long as one does not expect soothsaying, it is remarkably successful.
  51. We’re only doing what everybody else does. If we don’t do it, someone else will.
  52. Credo quia absurdum = I believe because it is absurd.
  53. Our approach has to be appreciated as work-in-progress, the results are promising but not yet fully established and demand further studies.
  54. All models are wrong, some models are useful.
  55. Whether economics is a science depends on how we define “science” in the first place.
  56. So many (well-meaning/honorable/brilliant) people have put a lot of work into economics.
  57. If there were a fundamental defect in economics it would have long been detected.
  58. Glomar response: the point in question can neither be confirmed nor denied. (Wikipedia)
  59. All economics is woo woo and unscientific. That's why it's an art degree. (S. Bach, Twitter)
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 provably false Walrasian microfoundations and provably false Keynesian macrofoundations to true systemic macrofoundations.#3 (iv) Forget the last 200+ years of proto-scientific garbage.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 For more details and references see
► 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 ― 24 excuses and 1 explanation
► Equilibrium is stone dead — and now?
► Heterodoxy and the re-invention of science
► A heap of scientific garbage
► 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 stand-up 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' and '10 steps to leave cargo cult economics behind for good' and 'Why is economics a total scientific failure?' and 'Do first your macroeconomic homework!' and 'The canonical macroeconomic model' and 'Your economics is refuted on all counts: here is the real thing'.


Source Teflon economics Lars Syll/David Freedman

Source: Lars P. Syll blog


For a comprehensive heterodox collection of lame excuses see real-world economics review: Andri W. Stahel Is economics a science?

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