Home > Uncategorized > Good advice to aspiring economists

Good advice to aspiring economists

from Lars Syll

225px-allais_pn_maurice-24x30-2001bSubmission to observed or experimental data is the golden rule which dominates any scientific discipline. Any theory whatever, if it is not verified by empirical evidence, has no scientific value and should be rejected.

Maurice Allais


Formalistic deductive “Glasperlenspiel” can be very impressive and seductive. But in the realm of science it ought to be considered of little or no value to simply make claims about the model and lose sight of reality.

Mainstream — neoclassical — economics has since long given up on the real world and contents itself with proving things about thought up worlds. Empirical evidence only plays a minor role in economic theory, where models largely function as a substitute for empirical evidence. Hopefully humbled by the manifest failure of its theoretical pretences, the one-sided, almost religious, insistence on axiomatic-deductivist modeling as the only scientific activity worthy of pursuing in economics will give way to methodological pluralism based on ontological considerations rather than formalistic tractability.

To have valid evidence is not enough. What economics needs is sound evidence. Why? Simply because the premises of a valid argument do not have to be true, but a sound argument, on the other hand, is not only valid, but builds on premises that are true. Aiming only for validity, without soundness, is setting the economics aspirations level too low for developing a realist and relevant science.

  1. J Ruivo
    September 28, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    That is sound advice.

    On the other hand, people that fudge the numbers should also receive a stern talking to.

  2. robert locke
    September 28, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Nobody did more in France to introduce mathematics into the study of economics, to replace an economics embedded in law, than Maurice Allais, but like all mathematicians who understand their subject he knew its liimitations and warned economists according, as, for instance, in (1954). “Croissance et danger de l’utilisation de l’outil mathématique en économique,” Econometrica, 22 (1), 58-71.

  3. Mo Allah yidi
    September 29, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Absolutely true. A look at the so called pathbreaking papers are actually very far from real world. Academics economics which is the foundation that Mainstream economics builds on does not actually help much in solving real life problem. Economists are majorly contented with celebrating complexity. Very few so called highly influencial papers are of relevance to the real world. The problem here is that Europe and America have dominated this profession so much that papers from other continents no matter how relevant are seen to be of little importance. Take for example how European economists (hope am right) promoted Thomas Pikkety’s Capital in the 21st century as been the most robust ever written textbook in our time, yet the book is about 600 pages long and contains absolutely rubbish that is virtually of no help to economies like Africa. Yet the book was promoted as if it is more important than Science papers. Untill this monopoly is broken papers that are written based on real world soild evidence cannot be given a chance because most top journals go for such papers that includes words like OUTPUT, EMPLOYMENT, STOACHSTIC piece of shit.

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