Our friendly, usually, economist goes to the dictionary to prove I am wrong about economics. As an economist he wants to pull economics out of the dumpster, but I really didn’t put economics in a dumpster, I just said it wasn’t science it was an area of inquiry, a social study.
So here we go, the dictionary definition of science–proof that economics is a science. My responses in bold, not be cause I am better or older or louder, just to distinguish.
Dictionary Definition of Science-
1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws:
Woops, Laws–and the laws of economics are established as proven and reliable in proving or predicting future events–Not
the mathematical sciences.
Again, woops, enticing that mathematics can be used to make economics look scientific–formulae that look like the key to kingdom of knowledge–see 1a for why that doesn’t make economics science.
2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
Systematic is a subjective and tautological thing–reliable, reproducible, falsifiable, is science. Economics does involve observation and experimentation, but the experimentation doesn’t produce reliable rules or laws that predict a future result. Again, woops.
3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
Easy, if I declare voodoo a branch of the biological or physical sciences, does that make what voodoo says a rule or a law reproducible, reliable or falsifiable? The Philosophy of Science is focused on what is good Science (Consider what Karl Popper and Richard Feynman have to say and test the theories of economics against their methods. Science must be falsifiable–economics is often not.
4. systematized knowledge in general.
I can’t help but draw a parallel with the “systematic” and internally consistent theories of many non scientific disciplines–Freudian theory for example, or any of a number of philosophical systems espoused by smart, clever and eloquent men who had no, absolutely no, scientific proof of their particular version of philosophy whether it be Metaphysics, Teleology or Ontology, Ethics, Morals, Aesthetics, and particularly those systems that assume a divine being or nothing more than I think, therefore I am. Would anyone dispute that philosophers are systematic–but reliable,reproducible, falsifiable–I think not.
5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
Again, a simple example will suffice, Chiropractors or Voodoo Priests assert knowledge, and have a systematic canon or tradition, but can their knowledge be confirmed by reliable evidence. I would not blame economists for being voodoo priests, but then again?
6. a particular branch of knowledge.
see answer to 5
7. skill, especially reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency.
There is a skill in being a good cargo cult fake scientist or even a magician, but does a faker, a fraud, an illusionist use that skill and method to do good reproducible science and do they insist on good evidence to support an hypothesis? An expansion on that statement is unnecessary.
Next time you want to go on about how something is ‘not a science’ you might want to refer to the actual definition of science.
Wow, what a devastating come back, but, being a scientist myownself and a lawyer with a particular interest in scientific evidentiary admissibility, not an economist trying to make the discipline scientific, I accept with some reservations the extensive and intense as well as profound commentaries of Karl Popper, philosopher of science.
Karl was very reluctant to accept inductive reasoning as a satisfactory scientific method, asserting that induction introduces a lot of subjective opinion and intellectual passion (sound a little like economics?). So Popper insisted and so did Richard Feynman (physicist nobel prize, brilliant guy), on deductive testing and validation of the evidence to assure that science was being spoken and practiced. Many commentaries say that Popper (probably they would say the same about Feynman) are too hard on inductive methods, which often propose good stuff. However, Popper and Feynman would say, and do say–propose your theory, your hypothesis–then, damn it, test it to make sure your theory is valid, falsifiable (can be tested) and then found to be reproducible and verifiable, not just a nice idea.
Science demands testing and skepticism, validation and intense efforts to assure the method of falsification was not only in play but exercised properly.
As a guy named Einstein said once–the most elegant theory can be disproved by one experiment.
Economists can’t stand the heat of that fire of skepticism and validation, the furnace, the cauldron, the mortar and pistil of testing and validation. Nice, attractive, even eloquent theories are not science. Economcis is full of them. Physics usually weeds them out with some experiments in the ideal, scientific, reliable skeptical way.
My observation is that economists are not skeptical about their work, they love themselves and their ideas–and then go out to find proof they are the genius that they admire.
So Keynes is an idiot, just the many idiots that proposed idiotic scientific theories–but the science idiots are gone and I still have Krugman and so many others that love government meddling with the economy.