Economists for sale

31 Dec, 2013 at 18:08 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

It is remarkable that the public has been convinced that the earth revolves around the sun. This is remarkable because we can all look up in the sky and see the sun revolving around the earth.

economics_major_for_sale_t_shirt-r5b55bfd5732c4c0c8dd390ac69c590cb_804gs_324 Most of us are willing to believe the direct opposite of what we can see with our own eyes because we accept the analysis of the solar system developed by astronomers through many centuries of careful observation. The overwhelming majority of people will never go through the measurements and reproduce the calculations. Rather, our belief that the earth revolves around the sun depends on our confidence in the competence and integrity of astronomers. If they all tell us that the earth in fact orbits the sun, we are prepared to accept this view.

Unfortunately the economics profession cannot claim to have a similar stature. This is both good and bad. It is good because it doesn’t deserve that stature. Economists too often work as hired guns for those with money and power. It is bad because the public needs expertise in economics, just as it needs expertise in medicine and other areas.

Dean Baker

1 Comment

  1. According to the most widely respected theory of physics, Special relativity, the Heliocentric and Ptolemaic systems are indistinguishable as far as prediction. It is only when one wants to introduce dynamics that one must choose and the heliocentric system is chosen because of its simplicity. But the Ptolemaic system worked for hundreds of years and produces identical Kinematic motion. So what is the problem here? The problem is the by introducing dynamics one must adhere to certain metaphysics. It does not come cheap, Too complex issue for an elaboration here but the use of the example was not a good choice and a false analogy.

    Just as an example of the complexity involved in these issues, the gravitational dynamics of Newton do not guarantee stability of a heliocentric system (actually a solution beyond 2 bodies does not even exist) and the General Relativity solution must assume causeless motion that is in a sense eternal and in the realms of metaphysics.

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