Discussions with Dan and Rose - Economics VS climatology – a meeting of the sciences?

Posted by bobbapink on Mar 11, 2002 at 19:20

Regarding a paper regarding climatology that Dan found so funny because it included the opinion of an economist and policy maker on matters regarding economy and policy, (post way below), Dan wondered, as only Dan can do, when exactly Economics became a “real” science. It was a good question and I replied with a link discussing the merits of that very thing and summed my response by asking:

…do you think economics is any less a science than climatology? If so, why?

In which A. Rose responded, somewhat off-topically, as is her manner, asking the following, to which I shall attempt to reply:

Does Economics have controlled experimental system paradigms with dependent and independent variables that are controlled and manipulated, whose effects are observed and reported?

I’d say yes, at least to the extent that climatology does.

Does Economics consistently produce hypotheses about systems, which are then carefully tested and observed and measured?

I’d say yes, at least to the extent that climatology does.

Do Economists concern themselves with reproducibility of experimental results?

I’d say yes, at least to the extent that climatology does.

Do Economists test their hypotheses on small groups of people and then are they able to generalize from this small-group paradigm to predict accurately how large groups of people will behave?

Clearly yes. Check out the link I provided way below.

Animal Behaviorists can do those things.

The intent of the message to which you replied meant to compare climatology with economics, not “Animal Behaviorists” though i'd say they too have a long road to hoe even to catch up to psychologists!

Can an Economist predict with any degree of assuredness what effect on the economy will be of a rise in the prime interest rate, or a decrease in whatever rate the federal government wants to change?

Pretty much, yes. Why do you think the Federal Reserve was established?

Can it predict the effect on my community? Yours? Staten Island?

With varying degrees of accuracy, yes.

Every time I hear someone talk about a change in this, that or the other marker in the economic program, they ALWAYS say "IT iS HOPED THAT..." or words to that effect.

Are you suggesting it is a social science and not an exact science? If so, I agree.

And sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. It's no better than voodoo, apparently.

I’d say it predicts much better than does “voodoo”, and certainly better than climatology - though i doubt the math is much harder.

I listen to Louis Rukheyser (sp?) sometimes. It's amazing what the government does, based on what the "Economists" tell them, and how it ends up. It's plumb spooky.

Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic -- Arthur C. Clarke

To be fair, i should include Dan's reply as well:

Calling something science doesn't make it so. (and then went into some diatribe about the soviet union being a worker’s paradise and singing revolutionary slogans in cuba which I won’t bother to address)

So climatology is not a science?

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