July 6, 2019

The only thing we can learn from economic models is what proto-scientific garbage looks like

Comment on Lars Syll on ‘What can we learn from economic models?’


Economists in general and Lars Syll, in particular, are in a desperate struggle with scientific methodology: “Some economic methodologists have lately been arguing that economic models may well be considered ‘minimal models’ that portray ‘credible worlds’ without having to care about things like similarity, isomorphism, simplified representationality or resemblance to the real world. These models are said to resemble ‘realistic novels’ that portray ‘possible worlds’. And sure: economists constructing and working with that kind of models learn things about what might happen in those ‘possible worlds’. But is that really the stuff real science is made of? I think not.” and “Science has to be something more than just more or less realistic ‘story-telling’ or ‘explanatory fictionalism’. One has to provide decisive empirical evidence that what can be inferred in a model also helps us to uncover what actually goes on in the real world.”

Science consists of two essential elements: “Research is, in fact, a continuous discussion of the consistency of theories: formal consistency insofar as the discussion relates to the logical cohesion of what is asserted in joint theories; material consistency insofar as the agreement of observations with theories is concerned.” (Klant) Logical consistency is secured by applying the axiomatic-deductive method and empirical consistency is secured by applying state-of-art testing. Or, as Aristotle put it pack in 400 BC: “When the premises are certain, true, and primary, and the conclusion formally follows from them, this is demonstration, and produces scientific knowledge of a thing.”

So, it is well-known for a long time what scientific methodology is except among economists. 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.

Of all imbeciles that open their mouths in economics, methodologists are the worst. They have consistently failed to spot elementary methodological blunders.#1 Economics is bad science but the economic methodology is even worse. This applies to Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy.#2, #3, #4, #5

Lars Syll’s critique is trivially true: “As long as one doesn’t come up with credible export warrants to real-world target systems and show how those models ― often building on idealizations with known to be false assumptions ― enhance our understanding or explanations about the real world, well, then they are just nothing more than just novels.” However, the heterodox methodologist Lars Syll NEVER came up with something better which, in turn, is acceptable because he is only a self-declared humble Humean Under-Labourer who is satisfied with “clearing Ground a little, and removing some of the Rubbish, that lies in the way to Knowledge.”

This is a bit unambitious because the premises of Orthodoxy are obviously idiotic. The hardcore propositions of microeconomics are given: “HC1 economic agents have preferences over outcomes; HC2 agents individually optimize subject to constraints; HC3 agent choice is manifest in interrelated markets; HC4 agents have full relevant knowledge; HC5 observable outcomes are coordinated, and must be discussed with reference to equilibrium states.” (Weintraub)

It is pretty obvious that this (verbalized) axiom set consists of multiple NONENTITIES and does NOT satisfy Aristotle’s criteria, viz. “certain, true, and primary”. Von Neumann identified the Walrasian approach as given with HC1 to HC5 as petitio principii, that is, as methodologically unacceptable. (TOG p. 15)#6 Keynes tried to replace microfoundations with macrofoundations, however, Keynesian macrofoundations are also materially/formally inconsistent.

So, what can we learn from economic models? All models that contain a NONENTITY are a priori false. In practical terms: as soon as one of the axioms HC1 to HC5 appears in an economics paper it can be thrown into the wastebasket. The same applies to all macroeconomic models that contain I=S. What we learn is that the greater part of peer-reviewed models that appear in flagship journals and in textbooks#7 is proto-scientific garbage and that both orthodox and heterodox economists have to be expelled from the sciences because of proven incompetence. Economists themselves are the “Rubbish, that lies in the way to Knowledge”.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

#1 How incompetent are economic methodologists? Very!
#2 Still in the proto-scientific wood
#3 The economist as storyteller
#4 Are economics professors really that incompetent? Yes!
#5 How to spot economics trolls
#6 The Palgrave Dictionary ― a comprehensive collection of False-Hero Memorials
#7 To this day*, economists have produced NOT ONE textbook that satisfies scientific standards

Related 'False models and true incompetence' and 'All models are false because all economists are stupid' and 'The Ur-Blunder of economics and its rectification' and 'From Keynes’ fatal blunder to the true economic model' and 'Infantile model bricolage, or, How many economists can dance on a non-existing pinpoint?' and 'Summary on ‘Musings on Whether We Consciously Know More or Less than What Is in Our Models…’' and 'Neoclassical growth theory: modeling gone nuts' and 'Failed economics: The losers’ long list of lame excuses' and 'From the pluralism of false models to the true economic theory' and 'Yes, orthodox economics is poor science, but can Heterodoxy raise hope?' and 'The canonical macroeconomic model'. For details of the big picture see cross-references Methodology.

Jul 7