March 9, 2017

There is no scientific elite in economics

Comment on Justin Fox on ‘Science Is Elitist for a Reason’

Blog-Reference and Blog-Reference

Science is elitist because at any point in time there are only a few genuine scientists in a population. France’s Royal Academy of Sciences had the good luck to have Lavoisier and Laplace among its founding fathers.

Economics was not so lucky. It had Adam Smith, who lacked any knack for science, among the founding fathers: “Smith … disliked whatever went beyond plain common sense. He never moved above the heads of even the dullest readers. He led them on gently, encouraging them by trivialities and homely observations, making them feel comfortable all along.” (Schumpeter)

From this bad start economics never recovered and it developed into what Feynman called cargo cult science, which he defined as: “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.”

In economics, the essential thing is to keep political and theoretical economics apart. 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.

The goal of theoretical economics is 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)

Economists do NOT have the true theory. Theoretical economics (= science) had been hijacked from the very beginning by political economics (= agenda-pushing). Political economics has produced NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years. The four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― are mutually contradictory, materially/formally inconsistent, axiomatically false, and ALL got the pivotal magnitude of economics ― profit ― wrong.

There is NO economic science. Yes, there is a prize with the title: “Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel” but NOTHING REAL corresponds to the word Sciences. Economics had the bad luck that among its ranks there never was such a thing as a scientific elite.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

Related 'Lacking the Midas touch of science' and 'On economists’ stupidity' and 'Why not simply throw all economists under the bus?' and 'Paul the Menace' and 'Economists and the destructive power of stupidity' and 'Economists cannot do the simple math of profit — better keep them out of politics' and 'There is NO such thing as an economic expert' and 'A rough business plan for science'