January 31, 2019

If religion is opium of the people, economics is crack of the people

Comment on Barkley Rosser on ‘Robert H. Nelson Dies: Religion And Economics’


Barkley Rosser summarizes: “A basic theme in all of his [Nelson’s] books is that economics is a form of secular religion that posits a material salvation in some distant future as a result of economic growth and redistribution, a material heaven on earth.”

As Simon Wren-Lewis once observed: “Narratives are a way people can try to understand things they know little about, and most people know little about economics or politics.”

This is an accurate observation. Where knowledge is lacking a story fills the void. Media of all types have always been in the business of storytelling, entertainment, and agenda-pushing. This goes from the so-called Holy Books to Rome’s Circus Maximus to Hollywood to Paul Krugman’s NYT blather, and to supply-demand-equilibrium textbooks.

Religion and economics have indeed a common denominator. It consists of the triad storytelling/entertainment/agenda-pushing.

It may have been the case that religion initially had a genuine spiritual content and an indispensable social function at the interface to the unknown and unknowable. But at some point in history, the priesthood took over and religion became psychological conditioning and social agenda pushing. With the secularization, economists in part took over where the priesthood lost ground.

Religion is about NONENTITIES and belief, science is about REALITY and knowledge. The communicative format of religion is the emotionally charged narrative, the format of science is the materially/formally consistent theory.

Economics is storytelling since the founding fathers. Adam Smith was NOT a scientist: “… he had no such ambitions; in fact, he 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)

All appearances to the contrary, economics is NOT a science but political agenda pushing. The formats of popular propaganda are the narrative, the talk show, and the shouting match in the political Circus Maximus. For a narrative, there is NO need to satisfy the scientific criteria of material/formal consistency. Basically, a narrative emotionally re-enacts a deep-seated archetype. The three great economic narratives are the story of the Schlauraffen Land of Plenty and Freedom, the story of the Alchemist who transmutes dirt into gold, and the story of the struggle of Capitalists vs Workers.

Economics is a failed science. All attempts to make economics a science remained on the surface. The major approaches — Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT — are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and all got profit ― the foundational concept of the subject matter ― wrong.

With the pluralism of provably false theories, economists have not achieved anything of scientific value but have produced a lot of proto-scientific garbage, vacuous propaganda, breath-taking rhetorical stunts, and brain-dead ideological debates about the material/ moral superiority of Capitalism or Communism.

After 200+ years, the reality content of economics is not significantly higher than that of any religion. The Invisible Hand of supply-demand-equilibrium has always been a NONENTITY just like the innumerable fictions of the priesthoods since time immemorial. Needless to emphasize that Barkley Rosser is part of the degeneration of what was intended as a scientific community to what has now become a coterie of ideological drug dealers.#1

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 References
• Economics as storytelling and entertainment for the masses
• Economics is not a science, not a religion, but proto-scientific garbage
• Knowledge vs. Belief
• Passionate belief is no substitute for knowledge
• Agenda-pushers and hijackers vs scientists
• Confounding Is and Ought: the economist as moralist
• Separation of politics and economics
• Economics: ‘a tale told by an idiot ... signifying nothing’
• Storytelling vs Theory = Politics vs Science
• The economist as storyteller
• Narrative economics and the imperatives of the sitcom
• Economics: stories, narratives, and disinformation
• Media-fake-farce-fraud-storytelling-macro
• How to save the economy from storytelling economists
• The end of storytelling
• Politics, storytelling, and science
• Economics — from storytelling to science
• Fake religion, fake science, fake news, and false complaints

Related 'The Supreme Being handed over these Twelve Economics Commandments' and 'Circus Maximus: Economics as entertainment, personality gossip, virtue signaling, and lifestyle promotion'.

REPLY to Barkley Rosser on Feb 1

You say: “You really do need to face up to the fact that there is a scientific economics …”

Microeconomic supply-demand-equilibrium is axiomatically predicated on equilibrium. Equilibrium is a NONENTITY. General Equilibrium with the summum bonum of overall welfare which is realized by the Invisible Hand is a NONENTITY. Call it superstition, magical thinking, hallucination, religion, deception but do NOT call it science.

Macroeconomics is false since Keynes wrote down I=S. The equality/equilibrium of I and S is a NONENTITY. Economists are too stupid for the elementary algebra that underlies macroeconomics.#1

The defective Walrasian microfoundations and the defective Keynesian macrofoundations do NOT fit together. Every economics textbook is an instance of glaring inconsistency.#2

And then there is Barkley Rosser who maintains with the applause or tacit approval of his academic colleagues that his summary of MbS’ role in the Khashoggi affair: “He is guilty guilty guuilty” is a valid piece of legitimate political economics.

Robert Nelson’s comparison of economics with religion is a distraction at best and deception at worst. The provable fact of the matter is that economics is a failed/fake science.#3

#1 “But economics is not pure mathematics or logic” No, it is pure blather
#2 The father of modern economics and his imbecile kids
#3 There is NO such thing as “smart, honest, honorable economists”

REPLY to Barkley Rosser on Feb 12

You said: “You really do need to face up to the fact that there is a scientific economics …”

I said: “The provable fact of the matter is that economics is a failed/fake science.”

On Twitter is some news about the AEA for you.