Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Interesting Question of Doubt

As my readers know I hold little respect for economics as a science. It is a field ripe with political views, what people feel should be but as a science it is not just lacking it is not even close.

Thus I read with interest Krugman's latest blog asking himself that very question, not from a real epistemological viewpoint, no it is Krugman does so often to jab at his foes.

He states:

What I’d add to that is that at this point it seems to me that many economists aren’t even trying to get at the truth. When I look at a lot of what prominent economists have been writing in response to the ongoing economic crisis, I see no sign of intellectual discomfort, no sense that a disaster their models made no allowance for is troubling them; I see only blithe invention of stories to rationalize the disaster in a way that supports their side of the partisan divide. And no, it’s not symmetric: liberal economists by and large do seem to be genuinely wrestling with what has happened, but conservative economists don’t.

And all this makes me wonder what kind of an enterprise I’ve devoted my life to.

 The last sentence is sadly true. The first paragraph is his shot at others. The problem is that in real science, say genetics, since 1971 we have progressed in leaps and bounds to the point at which we can now deal with many cancers, slow them down, cure them, and we have created true value to humanity.

In the world of communications and computers we have advances well beyond anything imagined and at costs well below anything we could have predicted. A telephone call to Beijing is a penny a minute as compared to hundreds of dollars.

Medicine has advanced tremendously, for better and worse, cost being the issue. We can now in seconds determine the cause of a stroke, a block or bleed, and then do something about it. We can keep people with congestive heart failure alive and feeling fairly well. In my 1966 Harrison's we were told how to make them comfortable until they died.

Now what has economics done, Krugman is correct. We all too often have arrogant individuals using meaningless theories destroying human lives with their witch doctor like suggestions. So what can we do, especially when they admit to it?