Paul Romer on Richard Thaler

17 October, 2017 at 15:53 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Paul Romer on Richard Thaler

cheryl-chow-quote-im-not-a-showhorse-im-a-workhorseI understand the purely aesthetic appeal of a convincing scientific explanation … The problem is that people can derive aesthetic pleasure from many different types of “explanation.” After all, the problem with the traditional choice model based on conscious utility maximization is not that it is ugly. And, on grounds of mathematical beauty, no economic model can touch a theory of perfect competition grounded in convex duality. The real problem is that these models are show horses, not work horses.

As far as I can tell, the only way to decide when and how to add some messy detail to a scientific explanation is also the way to distinguish the work of scientists from our work of scientologists and their ilk. Scientists are the ones who remain committed to useful knowledge as the only final output that matters …

To be sure, we have to leave room for early work on knowledge that looks to be potentially useful. But ultimately, scientific knowledge has to do real work. This why Dick’s contributions are so important.

Paul Romer


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