Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Economics is not Science

Excerpt from a letter in the Financial Times written by P. A. Stahl of American Astronomical Society, here:

"Sir, I appreciate Katy Delay’s effort (Letters, April 21) to portray economics as a science, but let’s be clear it is not. Economics has never been a science, it only adopts some scientific window dressing, a few of the methods (mostly statistics) and some jargon. But no serious empiricist would regard it as “science”.

For example, economics has no true objects of inquiry, say like physics, nor does it offer any consistent, theoretical models that don’t rely on statistical artefacts. Nor does economics make quality predictions based on said models, like atomic physics. If it had such capabilities, it would have foreseen the 2008 meltdown well in advance and warned everyone!

Even the most rudimentary student of statistics understands that regression models (even multiple) don’t show causality. The quants’ correlation factor (“gamma”) in their Gaussian Copula formula, in fact, helped precipitate the 2008 financial meltdown because they had zero insight into what they were really quantifying! Meanwhile, the illustrious economists – in their naive and incomplete statistical “modelling” – are prepared to ignore an entire raft of variables associated with what they call “externalities”. How very convenient!

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