Sunday, July 04, 2010

Atrocities Committed by Intellectuals

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard agrees with my pronouncements that economics is not a real science:
The 20th Century was a horrible litany of absurd experiments and atrocities committed by intellectuals, or by elite groupings that claimed a higher knowledge. Simple folk usually have enough common sense to avoid the worst errors. Sometimes they need to take very stern action to stop intellectuals leading us to ruin.

The root error of the modern academy is to pretend (and perhaps believe, which is even less forgiveable), that economics is a science and answers to Newtonian laws.

In any case, Newton was wrong. He neglected the fourth dimension of time, as Einstein called it, and that is exactly what the new classical school of economics has done by failing to take into account the intertemporal effects of debt – now 360pc of GDP across the OECD bloc, if properly counted.

There has been a cosy self-delusion that rising debt is largely benign because it is merely money that society owes to itself. This is a bad error of judgement, one that the intuitive man in the street can see through immediately.

Debt draws forward prosperity, which leads to powerful overhang effects that are not properly incorporated into Fed models. That is the key reason why Ben Bernanke’s Fed was caught flat-footed when the crisis hit, and kept misjudging it until the events started to spin out of control.

Economics should never be treated as a science. Its claims are not falsifiable, which is why economists can disagree so violently among themselves: a rarer spectacle in science, where disputes are usually resolved one way or another by hard data.

It is a branch of anthropology and psychology, a moral discipline if you like. Anybody who loses sight of this is a public nuisance, starting with [Fed member] Dr Athreya.
I frankly think he is being kind.  However, economics is an ideology, and lumping it with the so-called soft sciences is also insulting.  Lying with statistics is just another form of propaganda.  Otherwise, I agree with the author.  (Whereas the soft sciences are just tools of propaganda.)  Idiot intellectuals are a menace.  Their feedback loops, employed when attempting to prove their idiotic scientific pretensions, are among the most destructive.  Remember the dialectic?  It was inevitable, only it wasn't.  Western capitalist economic is the same.  Their commonality is manifest. The "people" and the "free market" are the same means to their ends.   Twentieth century ideologies need to die.

Happy 4th.

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