June 1, 2018

Is Lars Syll’s stupidity really infinite?

Comment on Lars Syll on ‘Is 0.999… = 1?’


The concept of infinity has occupied the best minds in philosophy, physics, and mathematics for millennia. For popular usage, Einstein summed it up: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

Lars Syll is a social scientist and wrecks his brain for many years with the application of mathematics in economics. He always concedes that math is fine everywhere except economics: “In pure mathematics — and logic — you are always allowed to take an epistemological view on problems and ‘axiomatically’ decide that 0.999… is 1. But how about the real world? In that world, from an ontological point of view, 0.999… is never 1! Although mainstream economics seems to take for granted that their epistemology based models rule the roost even in the real world, economists ought to do some ontological reflection when they apply their mathematical models to the real world, where indeed ‘you can never have infinitely many heaps’.”

True enough, but absolutely irrelevant for economics. Economics deals not with infinity but with finite quantities of stuff, people, working hours, and nominal magnitudes like profit or income which are measurable with the precision of two decimal places.

The problem with economists is that they fail already at the elementary mathematics of macroeconomic accounting.#1, #2, #3

The heterodox economist Lars Syll is a case in point. The fact is that he has not realized in his whole career that
  • profit theory and by consequence distribution theory is false for 200+ years,
  • microfoundations are false for 150+ years,
  • all variants of behavioral economics are beside the point because economics is a systems science,
  • Keynesian macrofoundations are false for 80+ years,
  • all IS-LM macro-models from Hicks to Krugman and beyond are false,
  • the macroeconomic balances equation (X−M)+(G−T)+(I−S)=0 that underlies MMT describes a zero-profit economy, which, needless to emphasize, is a NONENTITY,
  • not only Orthodoxy but Heterodoxy also is proto-scientific garbage.
The economist Lars Syll, who does not understand the elementary mathematics of accounting, is allowed to lecture his students about the mathematical concept of infinity and to pester them with Peirce’s quip “universes are not as common as peanuts” which is philosophically true but absolutely irrelevant for economics.

Non-economists should always be prepared to deal with infinite stupidity whenever they encounter an economist.#4 There is no real difference in this respect between Walrasians, Keynesians, Marxians, Austrians, and Pluralists.#5

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 Rectification of MMT macro accounting
#2 How the Intelligent Non-Economist Can Refute Every Economist Hands Down
#3 For details of the big picture see cross-references Accounting
#4 The demise of phony experts: macroeconomics is provably false
#5 For details of the big picture see cross-references Failed/Fake Scientists

Related 'Do first your macroeconomic homework' and 'New Economic Thinking: The 10 crucial points'.