Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why I hate mathematics and econometric economics?

As I posted here today about my dislike of mathematics and econometric economics some reader may think I am wrong and hey what hell you are talking about; each subject has its own course of relevant. Some specialize this or that. Some also confuses both by injecting a serious of models which can be understood by a few people etc. by creating a journal for that few people! 

Paul Krugman won the 2008 The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. My base for hating the mathematics and econometric economics is from his article published at MIT. Whether one like or dislike economics as a subject his article is worth to read. 

Some excerpts: 

"Marshallian" style of economic discourse: "(1) Use mathematics as a shorthand language, rather than as an engine of inquiry. (2) Keep to them till you have done. (3) Translate into English. (4) Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life. (5) Burn the mathematics. (6) If you can't succeed in 4, burn 3."

"Economic doctrine ... is not a body of concrete truth, but an engine for the discovery of concrete truth ..." (quoted in Sills and Merton, p. 150).

How are students and colleagues supposed to learn how to use this engine if you burn the evidence of the engine at work?

Krugman’s version of Marshall's rules:

“(1) Figure out what you think about an issue, working back and forth among verbal intuition, evidence, and as much math as you need. (2) Stay with it till you are done. (3) Publish the intuition, the math, and the evidence - all three - in an economics journal. (4) But also try to find a way of expressing the idea without the formal apparatus. (5) If you can, publish that where it can do the world some good.

In short, two cheers for formalism - but reserve the third for sophisticated informality”.

“the point of their education is to learn methods, not answers. And publication in professional journals is or at least should be a form of education: it is how economists teach each other about their work.” 

In fact liberal economist F A Hayek who also received The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel jointly in 1974.   

Hayek said something like this: “economics is a method”.

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