Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Modern economics indeed!

I'm a huge fan of The Distributist Review blog, and I quote it here often. I think John Médaille, the main writer there, is some kind of genius.

In a recent posting, he quotes one of the founders of modern economics, W.S. Jevons in a way that perfectly highlights one of the fatally arrogant flaws of the modern worldview (in the philosophical sense of the word modern) - the belief that everything can be broken down to a measurable, predictable, linear and calculable structure, enabling us to be ever so exquisitely scientific in our policies and predictions.

[as] W. S. Jevons put it, "the lack of a “perfect system of statistics … is the only … obstacle in the way of making economics an exact science”; once the statistics have been gathered, the generalization of laws from them “will render economics a science as exact as many of the physical sciences.” Well, it has been more than a century since Jevons' day, and we have been gathering “statistics” in excruciating detail, yet economics seems no more “scientific” now than it was then.

For example, we were told that the sub-prime mortgages would be a boon to the economy, and when they began to fail, we were told that the damage would be contained, and then we were told that they would not lead to a recession, and now we are told that the recession, if it comes, will be mild. It would seem that such a “science” has little value for either predictive or for policy purposes.


From The Distributist Review

This sort of thinking is not limited to economics. It can be found in medicine, nutrition, management, engineering, theology, etc... And that, my friends, is why I'm a postmodernist.

1 comment:

dad said...

Hi Dad: Amen to that! well, you nailed that one sqaurely on the head, so to speak. If you were shooting basketballs, in a clutch college game, you just 'drained a long 3 pointer' from 35ft away and 'swished' it... nice 'shot' and nice going,,,, Dad