Is Economics A Science?

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Mind Over Matter, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member

    Is economics a science? If yes, then economists are scientists.

    Scientific method is being used in economics to determine the veracity of an economic finding or theory.

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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    “If the law of change is known, no [economic] profits can arise.” Likewise: “If the law of change is known, no financial crises can arise.” But in economics and finance, the law of change is never known. So change reflecting uncertainty goes on, bringing booms and busts periodically, and Adam Smith’s “progress of opulence” on the trend.

    Economics and finance might be science, if it weren’t for people.
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  5. Mind Over Matter Registered Senior Member

    Exerpt from Wiki article:
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  7. hansda Valued Senior Member

    YES. Economics is science . If uncertainty is part of science ; so is economics .

    Just , basic economic principles similar to Newton's law , Ohm's law , Boyle's law of science(physics) to be developed .
  8. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    Maybe a soft science, like psychology. The business cycle is not the equivalent of the carbon cycle.
  9. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    What a load of crap! Economics as practiced by main stream fellows - those who are outside special interest funded organizations like The American Enterprise Institute to which you referenced - use the same scientific method used by physicists, chemists, astronomers, and any other scientist.

    Using your definitation ,"Economics and finance might be science, if it weren’t for people." physicians and medical research workers would not be scientists. It is just another in a long series of bizarre and lame excuses of American right wing politicos to justify their unjustifiable positions and claims.
  10. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    What is a soft science exactly? So is psychiatry a soft science? Is medicine a soft science? How about physics? Is physics a science? There is much in the field of physics that we simply do not understand. Does that mean it is not a science? No.

    What is important, is reliance on the scientific method - how we acquire and use information.

    There is much that is understood in economics and there is much that remains unexplained, just as in other sciences. But that does not delegitimize what we do know and understand.

    Here is a difference between the carbon cycle and economics. A thesis on the carbon cycle is generally not constrained by incomplete information sets and deadline constraints that are numbered in days and not years.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  11. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Although it IS considered a science it would be MUCH more accurate to class it as an art.

    Unlike things that are generally considered sciences, economics cannot depend on fixed physical laws - there are too many variables that can change in an instant and cannot be fully and accurately predicted. The best example of that is human emotions - like buying a stock because the name sounds "cool" or panic resulting from untrue rumors can simply drive the market into a wild, chaotic state, up OR down.
  12. keith1 Guest

    Weather forecasting is a science that coordinates historic data, distance/full-picture tracking imagery (satellite), prediction models, & local on-site real-time data collection.

    Economics is no less global nor, in the same instance, more crucially dependent on local variables.
  13. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Of course. Nice words but how does that make economics anything more than a sophisticated art. :shrug:
  14. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    How is that any different from the practice of medicine? Does that make the practice of medicine an art? Does that mean that medicine is not a science? Does that mean that the lion's share of economic knowledge or medical knowledge is as arbitrary as an artist throwing paint on a canvas? No, it doesn't.

    I think you need to draw a line between principal, knowledge and the application of that knowledge. Just as with medicine, principals are sound and well established through scientific method and historical analysis. What makes medicine and economic application difficult is the sheer number of variables involved and the slowness innate in the data collection process. So assumptions are often made when making short term predictions (e.g. economic unemployment rate forecasts). If those assumptions are wrong, the forecast will be off.

    The bottom line here is that I think people often confuse knowledge with application. Whereas the knowledge and models are sound, the application, short term predictions, may be off because of the assumptions made (due to lack of data) during the forecasting or application of principal/knowledge.
  15. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    It's not possible to apply the scientific method to the economy. You can't choose a dependent variable, manipulate it, and measure the independent variable.

    Is psychiatry (psychology) soft science? Yes. If it were hard science it'd be called Neuroscience. Psychologists like to use phrases that make them sound like they are a hard science (and probably fool most lay people), but on closer inspection, they're bullshit. Take: Chemically imbalanced. They LOVE that one. There's absolutely no measurable evidence for what a "chemically balanced" brain would look like. Or, take the title DSM. They use the words diagnostic and statistical to make it sound like the DSM has scientific veracity (a form of appeal to authority), well, it doesn't. It's a bunch of so-called "experts" sitting around a table deciding what they think normal is and isn't. AGAIN, there's way to measure a chemically balanced brain. There's no scientific test for depression. It's diagnosed by interview. That's not the same as syphilis which is diagnosed based on germ-theory. Homosexuality used to be a "mental disease" in the DSM. Now it's not. LOTS of 'mental diseases' (such as wanting to remove ones own limb) were considered "sexual fetishes" and it's now understood these are dysfunctional somatosensory cortices (that's Neuroscience).

    This year, an invited psychologist at the making of the DSM5 conference, gave an interview on how she was appalled with the process of mental disease selection. During the interview she said that at one point while deciding what will and will not be in DSM5 she herself said: What a minute, sometimes I have those feelings. I think it's perfectly normal. And the person leading the discussion said: Oh, alright, we'll get rid of it. So that "mental disease" isn't going to be in DSM5. That pissed her off and shocked her (the process).

    THAT is NOT science.

    Ever since 'mental disease' started being covered by medicare the numbers of 'chemically imbalanced' Americans have skyrocked! Interestingly, if you go to Sudan (where there's no medical insurance paying for Prozac), geee, everyone is perfectly 'chemically balanced' upon interview. They do need insulin when diabetic and penicillin when infected though. They also seem to 'recover' their 'chemical balance' without any medical treatment unlike Americans who on average need 'treatment' for decades.

    That doesn't mean that cognitive therapy isn't useful and doesn't have a bases in neuroplastictiy - only that this process has been discovered through non-scientific means (as are many ideas). Through Practice. Trial and Error. All the other treatments are pretty much useless and many have been demonstrated to actually harm patients in terms of outcomes. Not that it matters, people are treated like cattle, doped up on SSRIs and milked for years due to their 'chemical imbalances'.

    Sociology is even more removed from the scientific method than psychology. Economics is a subtype of sociology.

    Note: It was only on the sea slug C. Aplizia that some of the neuropathways for Classical Conditioning are thought to have been elucidated.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  16. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    Ahhh, that is why it's called a Practice Joe

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    Yes, medicine is an art.
  17. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Ok, so are you not going to visit a medical doctor if you should become ill?

    Two, you did not answer the question about physics? There is much about physics that is not understood. So they invent stuff and make assumptions to fill in the blanks (e.g. dark matter and dark energy). Does that make them any less of a science. Does that make physics a soft science?
  18. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    That doesn't make any sense.

    There ARE social experiments (ex: game theory) that are scientific experiments that are applied to better understanding social economic activity. Economics is still an art. Plenty of biological experiments are based on the scientific method and some of these may be used by a physician when she/he tries to make a diagnosis. Medicine is trying to cure an individual and is Practiced.

    Does that make sense?

    Physics experiments are, AFAIK, based on the scientific method. When they make up something, that's not science. That's making up something

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  19. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    That's just being plain silly! Of course I and most of us are going to go to a doctor. However, that does NOT make medicine any less of an art.

    As to physics, of course there are MANY unexplained things for which guesses and estimations are made/invented. In those cases the job is to find evidence that either supports or deflates the guess/estimate.

    But it's PRECISELY as I said when talking about economics - there are far too many factors that cannot be predicted with ANY reliability and accuracy. And the VAST majority of those involve the human factor.
  20. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Oh but it makes perfect sense. You admit the practice of medicine is an art. That being the case, where are you going to go if you or a member of your family becomes ill?

    The practice of a profession based or the application of a science to real life does not discredit the fundamental science upon which that practice is based.
    Not in the least bit relevant to the discussion.

    No it does not make sense. If you read previous posts and references you would know that economics is a science, based on scientific method.

    No that too is part of the scientific method. They make up a model to explain the observation and then they test the model. And if the model works they use it until it breaks. And then the model is changed to explained the observation.

    As Republican POTUS candidate, Jon Huntsman has said, the Republican Party has become the anti science party. And it's mouthpieces and leaders (i.e. Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Marc Levin, et al.) actively decry the sciences and institutions of higher learning because those very same sciences and institutions do not support their contrived and self serving notions of reality.
  21. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    Something doesn't have to be based on the Scientific Method to be useful (ex: Cognitive therapy is pretty much anecdotal). If I knew someone with OCD I'd suggest using that therapy because it seems to produce the desired effects. There's also some interesting treatments for teenagers with schizophrenia that uses a video game style treatment that has some pretty decent success (again, based on anecdote evidence with an n = 1). The theory has sound Neuroscience behind it, but, I wouldn't be holding my breath just because we can't ethically apply the Scientific Method. Sorry Susie we can't apply the Scientific Method so you get to take lithium and talk to the walls.

    THAT'S silly... we get information from all sorts of routes of inquiry.

    I think it is. These are probably as good as one is going to get to running a "Scientific Experiment" in the social sciences (ex: economics).

    Science generally refers to an activity that follows the hypothetico-deductive model/method. Economics doesn't so I don't consider it "Science".

    OK then, why don't you give me an example of a Scientific Experiment that Economists performed this year. List the dependent, independent and all of the control variables.

    As long as the experiments are designed according to the hypothetico-deductive method. Economists are overly reliant on inductive reasoning based on observation. It's not possible to run experiments real economies, and to repeat them over and over and over again in order to get an alpha value less then 0.01-0.05 to say it's statistically significant (in Physics gravity is measured to an uncertainty of 0.76 parts per trillion).

    Is an economist going to tell me the degree of certainty with which they can predict a measurement of GDP to anywhere near 0.05? No f*cking way.

    History, Paleontology, Economics, Religion... errr Psychology, these are all based on the inductive reasoning (aka: observation). IOWs, 100% of geese I observe are white, therefor all geese are white. Or 72% of humans have blue eyes, Joe is human. The likelihood of Joe having blue eyes is 72%.

    That's Induction.
    The scientific method is deduction.

    So, no, Economics is not a "real" Science and Economists are NOT Scientists. Let me repeat that: Economists are NOT Scientists.

    See, this is the whole reason where in the sort of mess we're in. Everyone is looking to appeal to authority, like "Science" or "Experts" or "Economists" or "Physicians" or "Professors". Either some is true or it isn't. It doesn't matter if a Child says it or a Professor. It doesn't' matter if someone observed it, made it up or discovered it using the scientific method. Either it is or is not true. Human-human interaction isn't able to be objectively measured to an alpha predictability (yet). We'll have to *frowns real hard* Think for ourselves.... I know, it sucks. Americans aren't too good at it, which is why we'll soon be eating the Chinese dust.

    Well, I don't know what to say, they're a bunch of douche bags :shrug:

    I'm voting Ron Paul in the MI primary

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    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  22. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    A couple of things, one you are setting up a straw man. And two, this is not germane to the discussion.
    As previously mentioned, this is not germane to the discussion.
    Game Theory is not relevant to the issue at hand (i.e. whither Economics is a science).

    You are confusing deductive and inductive reasoning with scientific method. There is a difference. That is like confusing a toilet with a house. There is a difference. And you are responding to this issue with a logical fallacy, begging the question. It doesn't matter that your bias is not to accept economics as a science in establishing the truth of the matter. The facts are that economists do you the scientific method and therefore is regarded as a science by academics and others.
    I think that would be a good exercise for you to do on your own.
    Well you see, here is the crux of your error. Economic theory is based on years of history and data repeated over many years. Economists do not experiment with live economies in real time. They use historical data to develop their theories and laws (e.g. the law of supply and demand).
    As previously stated many times before, when economists make predictions they need to make assumptions because they don't have perfect data. It takes time to collect that data. And time is not a luxury economist have when making forecasts on GDP. Economic data are constantly being revised for many months after the fact (e.g. jobs numbers).
    No you are mixing and matching...Texas Sharpshooter fallacy.

    No the whole reason we are in the mess we are in is because of incompetent and corrupt leadership. It did not take a genius to figure out we were going way off target when Congress repealed Glass-Stegal or when Bubba Junior (George Junior) and Deficits Don't Matter Cheney wrecked havoc on public finances. George Junior's first Secretary of the Treasury (Paul O'Neil) saw what has happening and resigned rather than be a part of the fiasco. Only the uneducated and uninformed were surprised by what happened in 2008 and our current economic issues. Because our debt difficulties were clearly written on the wall during the Bush II years. But even now, partisans - specifically Republicans- are refusing to acknowledge their transgressions and blaming the innocent rather than fessing up and taking meaningful corrective measures.
  23. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

    OK, I see the problem here. You don't know what science is. Economics uses inductive reasoning, the Scientific Method uses deductive reasoning.

    Simple enough?

    You're going to ask ME to look up an economic experiment that uses the Scientific Method? Then you have the gall to say Game Theory is irrelevant? Pullease. So what if some academics think economics is a science. Most wouldn't know the difference between induction and deduction if it slapped them in the face. Most don't even understand the basics of the Scientific Method and probably couldn't state a proper hypothesis (I know this to be a fact). Some academics believe in Xenu. So what?

    As I said, economics is at best a soft-science much like the other soft sciences (ex: psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc....). I wouldn't consider it Science because in general it doesn't follow the Scientific Method which is deductive, objective and is based on experimentation, repeatability and statistical analysis. Observing what happened last year and predicting what might happen in the future is NOT scientific. THAT is called inductive reasoning and is NOT the scientific method. Not to mention it's wrought with subjectivity.

    So, if we agree to be Science one must apply the Scientific Method (which is reasonable) then economics is NOT scientific.

    Lastly, you and the GOP. I told you BOTH the GOP and DEM suck hairy ball sacks. Bush Jr was a douche bag, so was Clinton. It was Clinton who signed off on NAFTA, it was Clinton who signed off on all sorts of shit and gutted the industrial base of the USA (along with the GOP congress), as we have discussed before and etc.... (yeah, I voted for that douche bag too). Obama just signed into law making it legal to murder Americans Citizens. Pull your head out Joe. At this point you're willing to cut off your nose to spite your face.

    In short: Economics is NOT science and Economists are not Scientists.

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