Is Economics a Science or just Mumbo Jumbo?
November 28, 2010
(To increase the font size of this essay – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) Think about it! Would you keep on giving money to someone who keeps making wrong calls every couple of years only to end up losing everything that he borrowed from you and other people? Think it through? As this question is jugular and probably the most important question you will probably have to ask yourself.
The logical answer would be a resolute “No!” Then why do we put so much faith in the “science” of economics?
Wonder no more why I’ve always been skeptical about economics from the word go. If you’re already an economist or planning to be one; I am sorry to burst your bubble – I am not out to cause offence (really I am not), but that’s just the way I see it – is it a bullshit profession? I give you the facts; you decide. (if this hits you like a freight train, that’s good – it means you’re taking your life seriously, so it;s never personal…understand?)
The reason why I don’t regard economics to be higher than let’s say rain dancing is because I have been asking myself only one question since the subprime crisis tanked: if economics is a science; then why do financial crises keep happening every 5 years? Why is it so hard to predict the next shit the fan economic doomsday scenario?
Think about it! Does my car explode every time I turn on the ignition? Do planes fall out of the sky every holiday season? And what about X-Ray? Does it leave you glowing like a lightbulb? – You want to know why the things I’ve just mentioned have such a low failure rate, high level of realibility and acceptable level of safety?
It’s because those inventions are governed by the laws of science – wonder no more why they don’t behave like either the subprime crisis or the Irish economy. To paraphrase science is progressive that’s one reason why it is so predictable and dependable – that could also be one reason why you don’t regularly jump off buildings or stick your tongue into a power socket– economics however is none of these things; it’s cyclical (which is just a polite way of saying, we don’t seem to able to learn from our mistakes) and judging from how so many people got blindsided by the financial meltdowns – economics is as predictable as a demented Jack-in-the-box.
One reason why economics is largely still a hit and miss enterprise may have alot to do with it’s nature. While science builds upon available knowledge and allows us to make relatively accurate guessestimates (most of the time). The same cannot be said about economics – so again please….is economics a science or is it just hogwash?
One clue that may reveal the nature of economics for what it really is may have something to do with how through the years we have inadvertently promoted economics to the level of a veritable science. To paraphrase: since we regard it as a science; we treat it as a science and given the benefit of time, it assumes the authority of science i.e lexicon – but this doesn’t for one moment alter it’s intrinsic nature i.e economics is not a science.
And let me share with all of you: why I believe economics cannot be a science. While science is a process of continuous improvement that involves formulating models to help explain – why stuff behave the way they do – and to predict outcomes under a given set of conditions – where the goal is to validate the model continuously. Hence when the model fails, it is adjusted to reflect the “new reality” and the process starts again, till it cannot be refuted any longer – when improvements can no longer be made; then it’s called a break through like Newtonian physics. Since there is a robust explanation that is being approximated by the models, there is such a thing as an “objective reality” to be describe how these models work under a given set of conditions. The models evolve representations of the relationships and features that are defined by the system and are testable.
On the other hand economics is a polyglot of myths, fantasy and a couple of unicorns and leprechauns thrown in – since what really accounts for its workings at the core first requires agreement among the players how certain assumptions should color the elements that make up the game.
It is precisely this reliance on assumptions as to how the game should and must be played that requires suspension of belief on a mass scale – and since so much of what makes up the set pieces of economics is premised on social technology rather than “objective reality.”
It is nothing more than an elaborate intellectual ponzi scheme – where providing all the players believe elephants can fly; then it makes perfect sense to discuss how many flying elephants can fit on a pinhead – a failing common to all Ponzi schemes however is since they rely exclusively on the power to mythologize, embellish and exaggerate the facts to suit what needs to explain away - they will always be vulnerable to the naked truth – fortunately most of the time, the system doesn’t get stressed to breaking point where the economic explanations peel away from what’s actually happening- the problem is when the truth outstrips the lie so completely that it is no longer possible to sustain the illusion; when this end point is reached since the majority of players can no longer afford to buy into the belief elephants can fly – the game ends suddenly and house falls like a pack of cards. Game over.
(The remainder of this essay written by Darkness and Vollaraine has been withdrawn from general circulation due to Measured Response)