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Old 27th June 2012, 03:25 AM   #41
psionl0
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Originally Posted by Kevin_Lowe View Post
I disagree with psionl0's views on the history of science. The idea that true innovation comes from outside the institutions of science is outdated at best and utter tripe at worst. Your odds of contributing anything to science in 2012 without a rigorous science education are infinitesimal.
Contemporary knowledge of economics is nowhere near on a par with contemporary knowledge of science. In fact, I would suggest it is more like medieval science where institutions rule and outside knowledge (true or not) has a hard time getting a guernsey.

Originally Posted by Kevin_Lowe View Post
Neoclassical microeconomics, along with postmodernist literary criticism, phenomenology, "alternative medicine" and a few other degenerate sub-disciplines are examples of intellectually bankrupt sub-disciplines that for one reason or another still manage to keep a toehold within the world of academia. In an ideal world academia would turf them out to join phrenology and astrology in history's landfill of defunct ideas, but that hasn't happened yet.

I'd love it if academia was completely ruled by Enlightenment ideals, but the fact is that there are still some dark corners where nonsense rules.
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Old 27th June 2012, 04:15 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Contemporary knowledge of economics is nowhere near on a par with contemporary knowledge of science. In fact, I would suggest it is more like medieval science where institutions rule and outside knowledge (true or not) has a hard time getting a guernsey.

I think I owe you an apology. I don't even think of economics as a science, so I think we had our wires crossed.
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Old 27th June 2012, 06:26 AM   #43
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Let me try to be more clear about what I don't understand.
There are many threads here in which folks express their views about the economy or about economic policy. Since most people observe what goes on around them (whether they have formal training or not), it doesn't surprise me that people feel that they should have an opinion--perhaps a passionate opinion.
On the much more narrow topic of what economists do for research and think, a number of posters seem to agree (A) they have no direct knowledge and (B) they're really mad ((A) not withstanding).

As has been said, "it's just the Internet" I'm just curious what gets people so riled up about stuff that they've never looked at.
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Old 27th June 2012, 04:49 PM   #44
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My take on economics is from listening to numerous NPR News/talk shows over the years. Diane Rehm, Talk Of The Nation, On Point...That sort of thing.
These shows frequently will have on economists from various prestigious schools or research institutions discussing some issue of the day.
Taxes or stimulus or entitlement or what have you.

It's striking that almost invariably, these individuals will cite the very same data and studies and come to completely opposite conclusions. Often arguing hotly over whatever the point is.

This led Diane Rehm at one point in one of these segments to exclaim, "how is the average person to make any sense of this when the experts can't agree?"

Good question, Diane.
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Old 27th June 2012, 05:34 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
Let me try to be more clear about what I don't understand.
There are many threads here in which folks express their views about the economy or about economic policy. Since most people observe what goes on around them (whether they have formal training or not), it doesn't surprise me that people feel that they should have an opinion--perhaps a passionate opinion.
On the much more narrow topic of what economists do for research and think, a number of posters seem to agree (A) they have no direct knowledge and (B) they're really mad ((A) not withstanding).

As has been said, "it's just the Internet" I'm just curious what gets people so riled up about stuff that they've never looked at.
Let me try to be more clear about what I don't understand.

There are many threads here in which folks express their views about astrology. Since most people observe what goes on around them (whether they have formal training or not), it doesn't surprise me that people feel that they should have an opinion--perhaps a passionate opinion.
On the much more narrow topic of what astrologers do for research and think, a number of posters seem to agree (A) they have no direct knowledge and (B) they're really mad ((A) not withstanding).

As has been said, "it's just the Internet" I'm just curious what gets people so riled up about stuff that they've never looked at.
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Old 27th June 2012, 06:10 PM   #46
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This si a test
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Old 28th June 2012, 12:12 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
My take on economics is from listening to numerous NPR News/talk shows over the years. Diane Rehm, Talk Of The Nation, On Point...That sort of thing.
These shows frequently will have on economists from various prestigious schools or research institutions discussing some issue of the day.
Taxes or stimulus or entitlement or what have you.

It's striking that almost invariably, these individuals will cite the very same data and studies and come to completely opposite conclusions. Often arguing hotly over whatever the point is.

This led Diane Rehm at one point in one of these segments to exclaim, "how is the average person to make any sense of this when the experts can't agree?"

Good question, Diane.
Thanks Bikewer. Let me rephrase, so tell me if I misinterpret.

On the public face of economics, one sees experts disagreeing and both asserting that the science is on their side. Worse, neither acknowledges any room for disagreement. This suggests economics isn't internally coherent, so how can it be right or even scientific?

I've seen this too. In fact I've seen top people who I know 99% agree with each other do this publicly. Some of this is that much of the public discussion is on the small fraction of economics where there is much internal disagreement. Some of this is just bad behavior by economists.

But my question was about perceptions. If the public face of economics is heavily weighted toward the part that looks stupid, then it's reasonable for people to make broader inferences about economics more generally.

Your comment made me think about the next revision of my textbook. I wonder if I do a good enough job of pointing out what areas are in serious dispute. I should think about this some more.
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Old 28th June 2012, 01:15 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
Thanks Bikewer. Let me rephrase, so tell me if I misinterpret.

On the public face of economics, one sees experts disagreeing and both asserting that the science is on their side. Worse, neither acknowledges any room for disagreement. This suggests economics isn't internally coherent, so how can it be right or even scientific?

I've seen this too. In fact I've seen top people who I know 99% agree with each other do this publicly. Some of this is that much of the public discussion is on the small fraction of economics where there is much internal disagreement. Some of this is just bad behavior by economists.

But my question was about perceptions. If the public face of economics is heavily weighted toward the part that looks stupid, then it's reasonable for people to make broader inferences about economics more generally.

Your comment made me think about the next revision of my textbook. I wonder if I do a good enough job of pointing out what areas are in serious dispute. I should think about this some more.
At the public perception level, part of it might also be that economists act as a kind of priesthood that sanctifies economic policies which constitute overt class warfare as scientifically correct or necessary.

Neoclassicists will tell you that minimum wage laws create unemployment, that tax cuts for the rich create wealth, that tariffs are passed directly on to the consumer, that regulating industry hurts productivity and so forth, and that these are all scientific facts deriving both from observation and sound scientific theories.

Whereas it's intuitively obvious to any Joe Blow that if companies are making a healthy profit and employees generate a healthy revenue for their employer, then tariffs, regulations, wage control and so forth merely transfer part of the profit from the ultra-wealthy to the broader public.

It's only natural, I think, for Joe Blow to feel resentment at people who they sense correctly are talking a lot of calculated, malignant nonsense.

People more sophisticated than Joe Blow will have more sophisticated criticisms (such as that the SMD conditions never apply, and neoclassical microeconomics only works if they apply, so it never works), but they are if anything even more damning.

The bottom line is that economics has been an incredibly barren discipline, compared even to soft sciences like psychology. It's yielded very little fruit, and repeatedly failed to either predict or control economic downturns or disasters, except in the trivial sense that someone is always prophesying doom and will take credit when doom arrives.
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Old 29th June 2012, 11:59 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by Kevin_Lowe View Post
Neoclassical microeconomics, along with postmodernist literary criticism, phenomenology, "alternative medicine" and a few other degenerate sub-disciplines are examples of intellectually bankrupt sub-disciplines that for one reason or another still manage to keep a toehold within the world of academia.
This is interesting. Microeconomics is much less controversial and much less of a battleground for ideological warfare than is macroeconomics.
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