Is economics a pseudoscience?

Anthropology, Economics, History, Sociology etc.

Moderators: Calilasseia, ADParker

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#21  Postby Elena » Mar 01, 2010 1:22 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:Humans aren't irrational, they just aren't rational in the economic sense (maximising returns). But they are 'rational' in the sense that they make consistent choices given specific input variables. Human behavior can be described quite easily, problems only arise when you remove the subjects from the lab and put them into a world full of variables and confounds (whilst this naturally decreases our predictive power, we can still be highly successful in predicting and controlling behavior - otherwise behavioral therapies would be useless).

In a lab setting though, where I can control the variables, humans run like clock work.

Yes, we're predictably irrational, according to Dan Ariely:
Image Interestingly, this behavior applies also to medicine. Knowing the science and all pertinent probabilities for a medical problem is one thing; acting rationally based on that knowledge is a different matter altogether. There are heaps of research on that.
User avatar
Elena
RS Donator
 
Posts: 727
Female

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#22  Postby crank » Mar 01, 2010 1:40 pm

Elena wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:Humans aren't irrational, they just aren't rational in the economic sense (maximising returns). But they are 'rational' in the sense that they make consistent choices given specific input variables. Human behavior can be described quite easily, problems only arise when you remove the subjects from the lab and put them into a world full of variables and confounds (whilst this naturally decreases our predictive power, we can still be highly successful in predicting and controlling behavior - otherwise behavioral therapies would be useless).

In a lab setting though, where I can control the variables, humans run like clock work.

Yes, we're predictably irrational, according to Dan Ariely:
Image Interestingly, this behavior applies also to medicine. Knowing the science and all pertinent probabilities for a medical problem is one thing; acting rationally based on that knowledge is a different matter altogether. There are heaps of research on that.

Ooooh I just got that book in a couple of weeks ago, haven't had a chance to read yet. I saw Ariely on BookNotes on CSPAN and he was really interesting, he discussed many of the very cool experiments I mentioned in my post above.
“When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you get a front row seat.”
-George Carlin, who died 2008. Ha, now we have human centipedes running the place
User avatar
crank
RS Donator
 
Name: Sick & Tired
Posts: 10413
Age: 6
Male

Country: 2nd miasma on the left
Pitcairn (pn)
Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#23  Postby Elena » Mar 01, 2010 1:48 pm

crank wrote: Ooooh I just got that book in a couple of weeks ago, haven't had a chance to read yet. I saw Ariely on BookNotes on CSPAN and he was really interesting, he discussed many of the very cool experiments I mentioned in my post above.

Have you checked his "Test yourself" and "Visual illusions" yet?: predictably irrational

(BTW, crank, lovely avatar :lol:)
User avatar
Elena
RS Donator
 
Posts: 727
Female

Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#24  Postby Macdoc » Mar 01, 2010 1:57 pm

found in the natural sciences, does not make econs totally useless, or equivalent to a pseudoscience.


Never said it was useless, I said it was not a science - have not changed my mind.

History is not useless, it's also not a science. Econ is a discipline which can expand our body of knowledge about human behaviour - as pointed out it has led to discoveries in psychology.

Personally I think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Econometrics has more real world use as I think it can generate useful policy approaches via empirical observation and analysis.
Travel photos > https://500px.com/macdoc/galleries
EO Wilson in On Human Nature wrote:
We are not compelled to believe in biological uniformity in order to affirm human freedom and dignity.
User avatar
Macdoc
 
Posts: 17156
Age: 73
Male

Country: Canada/Australia
Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#25  Postby Mr.Samsa » Mar 01, 2010 2:05 pm

Elena wrote:
Yes, we're predictably irrational, according to Dan Ariely:
Image Interestingly, this behavior applies also to medicine. Knowing the science and all pertinent probabilities for a medical problem is one thing; acting rationally based on that knowledge is a different matter altogether. There are heaps of research on that.


From what I've read on his site, he seems to be talking about rationality in terms of "conscious choices". I think when people try to change their behavior by making conscious choices it does complicate things because you have to take into account a completely different set of variables - i.e. the input that produces the thoughts.

I don't think his position is inconsistent with my own in any way, he's just using the nebulous concept of "rationality" in a slightly different way to me. Thanks for the link though, I might have to try reading his book when I get the chance :cheers:
Image
Mr.Samsa
 
Posts: 11370
Age: 35

Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#26  Postby crank » Mar 01, 2010 2:12 pm

Elena wrote:
crank wrote: Ooooh I just got that book in a couple of weeks ago, haven't had a chance to read yet. I saw Ariely on BookNotes on CSPAN and he was really interesting, he discussed many of the very cool experiments I mentioned in my post above.

Have you checked his "Test yourself" and "Visual illusions" yet?: predictably irrational

(BTW, crank, lovely avatar :lol:)

:oops: Thanks, on avatar! I will have to check out those tests, the site looks interesting as it should coming from Ariely, appreciate the link.
“When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you get a front row seat.”
-George Carlin, who died 2008. Ha, now we have human centipedes running the place
User avatar
crank
RS Donator
 
Name: Sick & Tired
Posts: 10413
Age: 6
Male

Country: 2nd miasma on the left
Pitcairn (pn)
Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#27  Postby Kommissarw » Mar 20, 2010 12:07 am

Austrian School is the most appaling Psedoscience, even to the casual observer.

I had an argument with youtube user shanedk.

One of the positions he advanced was that Capitalism didnt cause slavery, I took issue with this.

He insisted that under capitalism everyone is free. Where people are forced, its corporatism.

I found this line pretty suspect. It was sounding deliberately unfalsifiable but I didnt have my bullshit detector that finely tuned. I pointed out that the term of Corporatism so broad to be effectively useless. My experience was full of Socialism being bandied about, it could refer to central planning & 5 year plans, or "Social Justice".

So I asked him where he got his definition from...

He got *really* shitty with me at that, insisted that he could define things however he wanted.

The real story is he is of the Austrian School persuasion. Not coming clean, about the origin shows he is embarrassed in some way or a plagiarist.

At some point I said Economics was a fundamentalist religion.

A specific point of objection I had to the obsession with Liberty based on property, was the phenomenon of SUVs/4wheeldrives. Basically, government regulation is totally necessary because the possession of over-sized vehicles is an imposition & safety issue & environmental problem on everyone else. His counter argument was private ownership of roads with tolls and an incentive to keep the traffic clear, presumably, the owner of the road could charge higher or refuse access to SUV/4WDs.

I could not understand how anyone could take this garbage so seriously. I had encountered Monetarism & the New Right, simultaneously demanding lower taxes, & demanding anything the State owned that was profitable be sold off, at a loss.

Then someone gave me an Epiphany, They used the word Propertarianism. And I came across a quote from someone

"Most men want not liberty, but license."

Im a "Statist" & Proud.
Kommissarw
 
Posts: 6

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#28  Postby palindnilap » Mar 22, 2010 5:19 pm

It is a very interesting science that is still lacking some tools, like for instance biology was before Darwin, Mendel and Crick. The tasks ahead of the economists are a bit similar to what the biologists already did :

1) Understanding the micro level using psychology (like biologists did using genetics).
2) Moving to the macro level using dynamical systems theory ("chaos theory") and computer simulations (like biologists did using evolution theory).

It is true that the assumption of perfect rationality has been a bad answer to 1) and that the ubiquitous use of equilibrium theories has been a bad answer to 2), but in all fairness, I don't think that any economist actually strictly believed in one of those answers. It was just the only way one could work out anything about the behavior of the systems. What seemed to be commonly believed though was that those approximations that were good enough to approximate the systemic behaviour, and that was where chaos played a bad trick onto economists.

An excellent book for the economical layman about what 21st-century economics should look like is Eric Beinhocker's The Origin of Wealth.
palindnilap
RS Donator
 
Posts: 509
Age: 50
Male

Switzerland (ch)
Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#29  Postby Warren Dew » Mar 26, 2010 7:16 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:Humans aren't irrational, they just aren't rational in the economic sense (maximising returns).

In my experience in quantitative predictive economics, the departure from rationality is random. The assumption of rationality works well when dealing with economies, rather than with individuals, just as ignoring quantum fluctuation works well when dealing with most macroscopic events.
User avatar
Warren Dew
 
Posts: 5550
Age: 61
Male

Country: Somerville, MA, USA
Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#30  Postby Tyrannical » Mar 27, 2010 4:11 am

Economists: The one profession where you can gain great eminence without ever being right.
Good fences make good neighbors
User avatar
Tyrannical
Banned Troll
 
Posts: 6708
Male

United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#31  Postby Matthias Wasser » Mar 27, 2010 8:55 pm

Propertly understood, economic rationality isn't false - or even falsifiable. It's an axiom of modern economics that people can be understood as agents who act to maximize utility functions; and there's no possible behavior for which you could not specify a utility function for which it is rational.

If all economics did was set forth a bunch of axioms, it wouldn't be a science. (Austrianism is basically this.) But within the language that economics assumes it is possible to make useful predictions. (No behavior can falsify the assumption that an agent is acting to maximize a utility function, but plenty can that the agent is not acting to maximize some particular utility function U1.)

That said, economics is still in a primitive state. That's mainly a function of the data itself being difficult - although the fact that it's the most politically influential social science certainly doesn't help. It's like trying to investigate ecology would be if the rate of evolutionary change were thousands of times faster than it is in reality.
Matthias Wasser
 
Posts: 42

Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#32  Postby theidiot » Mar 27, 2010 9:26 pm

alienpresence wrote:Just thinking how the predictive element of economic forecasts always seems to happen after a market event? I know this is probably a silly idea since all our lives depend on a stable fiscal system. What if the 'economy' was just so much astrology and oil? :shock:


Uhm, no. It appears that way, when economist try to predict future events, but the reasons for the failures is sheer amount variables, and new ones that emerge in time, that can throw a wrench in any prediction. Unlike the hard sciences, in predicting future events the economist has to take into account the finicky nature of human behavior. We often hear of the failure of forecasting models, but rarely hear of the success of such models that allows many industries, particularly industries that are significantly dependent on taking into account risks.

But economist examining past effects of what led to certain economic failures, examine the variables at play in them, it's quite difficult to call this analysis pseudo-science, anymore so than scientist examining how our species developed over so many years.
theidiot
 
Posts: 783

Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#33  Postby GT2211 » Jun 09, 2010 4:39 am

Where is the economics board? Anyways there are a lot of different methods of pursuing economics right now. We have the Austrians who start off with a philosophical understanding of how markets and economies work. In a way they remind of the creationists because their conclusion to any crisis is a given and they look for data to confirm it. It also seems that they are rapidly multiplying in the college age group.
gt2211: Making Ratskep Great Again!
User avatar
GT2211
 
Posts: 3089

United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Is economics a pseudoscience?

#34  Postby epepke » Jun 09, 2010 5:32 am

I worked with an economist at the Supercomputer Computations Research Institute. What he did was pretty scientific. There were hypotheses and models. The verification, unfortunately, involved finding the maxima in rather ill-behaved functions as well as approximating the determinants of very large matrices.

Little to none of this, however, filters down to the rich guys in suits with big jowls that seem to dominate economic predictions.

This is one of the reasons that I left academia.
User avatar
epepke
 
Posts: 4080

Country: US
United States (us)
Print view this post

Previous

Return to Social Sciences & Humanities

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest