Home > Uncategorized > When did you last hear an economist​ say something like this?

When did you last hear an economist​ say something like this?

from Lars Syll

If the observations of the red shift in the spectra of massive stars don’t come out quantitatively​ in accordance with the principles of general relativity, then my theory will be dust and ashes.

Albert Einstein (1920)

  1. Craig
    September 1, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Yes, and also when did you last hear of an economist craft and offer up an Einsteinian-ly radical paradigm changing set of policies that transform the economy by resolving its deepest and most chronic problems? And additionally bases it all on an evolutionary concept that integrates and unifies not only things economic, but the supposed opposites of quantum and temporal realities?

    • Frank Salter
      September 2, 2018 at 6:44 am

      Why do you think that paradigm change will occur in a single step? That never occurred in science!

      • Craig
        September 2, 2018 at 8:38 am

        Because the change doesn’t actually take place until one has a new cognition…of it. It’s completely true that Science is unconscious of the old/current paradigm let alone the new one, then problems in a system or whatever crop up, the orthodox reject it, others keep trying to “fix” the problems, usually in an ad hoc and reformist fashion, finally someone makes a new tool and has a discovery or re-discovers relevant insights from an old tool and the slow poke process Kuhn described begins to be discerned. But nothing even remotely actual, permanent or world shaking occurs….until one sees the new paradigm.

        Einstein’s quote is true. It’s left out as I and others here have pointed out that one needs at the very least a good understanding of the basics of an area prior to being able to discern a new paradigm because a paradigm must fit seamlessly within the body of knowledge/area of human endeavor that it applies to, but a paradigm is also a single concept like Homesteading-Agriculture or Helio-centrism that meets the general applicability requirement I just stated. A paradigm is thus an integration of the opposites of singular and multiple, specific and general. And I assert that, as the integration and discernment of the truths in opposites is the very process and attainment of wisdom regarding whatever is being examined, wisdom is the very tool of what I refer to as paradigm perception. And when you’ve perceived a new paradigm you’re way, way ahead of everyone utilizing only the mental mode of science…..because you see both the single concept and how it fits within and transforms the pattern under examination.

        Here’s the levels of thought in descending order that Einstein was referring to (you’ll note the wide gap between the top level and those below it denoting the creative and synergistic effect of the integration of opposites and also the historical fact that most scientific breakthroughs are integrations of the opposite modes of thought of the scientific method and an aspect or aspects of consciousness and its tool wisdom):

        Wisdom-Paradigm Perception



        Data Gathering- Research

  2. September 1, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Rather ironically, Einstein is wrong about this.

    Take Newton’s equations of motion. They are accurate to a certain degree under certain conditions. The conditions under which Newton’s equations were unacceptably accurate (or inaccurate) were discovered and Einstein proposed a new, more comprehensive paradigm.

    Far from being “dust and ashes” Newton’s equations are still in daily use. I learned them in school and demonstrated that they were accurate beyond my ability to measure! And one cannot imagine a generation that will not learn them.

    Einstein’s equations make very accurate predictions, but also fail to predict accurately under certain circumstances, i.e. in blackholes and at the big bang. Quantum mechanics tell us that spacetime cannot have infinite curvature.

    So the race is on to replace Einstein’s theory with a quantum theory of gravity and/or spacetime. But when it emerges, Einstein’s theory will not be “dust and ashes” because under most circumstances it is still accurate beyond out ability to measure. Generations of physics graduates will still learn about relativity.

    Economics certainly has problems, but this false view of science doesn’t really help us much. When one of the main components of your field of study, i.e. money, is ontologically subjective (to use John Searle’s term) then you are not going to have an analogue of physics to describe it. You can infer objective knowledge about an ontologically subjective domain, but it’s not going to look like physics. It’s going to look like psychology. Even physics doesn’t look like the simplistic picture Einstein painted in 1920.

    He wasn’t much of a philosopher.

    • September 2, 2018 at 1:41 am

      I don’t think Einstein was wrong. He referred to a strict set of evidence: “the red shift of spectra, etc.” From that point of view I see that he was correct. The essence of the quote is that he put his theory under the light of verifiable, precise set of evidence and was ready to admit his error as a possibility. How often do you see an economist saying “I was flat wrong” or maybe “if such and such variables of the economy do not evolve in such and such ways my theory will be dust and ashes”? I am afraid not too often.

      • Frank Salter
        September 2, 2018 at 6:59 am

        I, NOT an economist. say exactly that and demonstrate that my analysis conforms to reality.

        See my Transient Development, RWER-81. pp. 135−167.

    • Frank Salter
      September 2, 2018 at 6:51 am

      From jayarava: “but it’s not going to look like physics”

      All economic action occurs in the real world. That is exactly like physics. It is physics. One can not step round physical reality.

  3. Craig
    September 2, 2018 at 12:07 am

    Good point. Ideas are built on other ideas, and all realities are real it’s just that some are more integrative and highly refined toward the big picture reality philosophers and sages have described for ages. Science as a mode of inquiry of the truth is working its way back to that more inclusive perspective and will add its empirical perspective to it.

  4. Helen Sakho
    September 2, 2018 at 12:37 am

    I am glad that these postings are becoming more precise, as they lessen “opportunity costs” and increase “diminishing marginal returns”.

    I am full of admiration for the old man and his theories, which I have repeatedly praised here.

    However, as for the original question posed above, my answer has to be a yes! I heard it some 6-7000 years ago from the wealthiest man in Babylon. We cannot better their wisdom, so could we have the decency to back just that little bit of time in human history? Add a chapter of the book to our new curriculum perhaps?

  5. September 2, 2018 at 6:19 am

    This quote I always felt to be misunderstood and under appreciated.
    “We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
    Albert Einstein
    To me this means you have to pay your dues building the analytic tools you must bring to tackle certain problems. For example to contribute to the field of general relativity you first must master behavior of basis vectors under coordinate transformation. At minimum you’ll need Einstein’s indicial notation and if you really pay your dues you’ll become adept at deriving all of the general theory using direct notation.
    In contrast, I don’t see this ethic in economics. For example I doubt Paul Krugman has even cursory knowledge of Ordinary Differential Equations. So he cannot contribute in any way to the work of Steve Keen. I’ll admit, we have to be selective which analytic tools to acquire and which dues to pay, but I see a lot of smart people walking way, saying,”That’s not like any economics I understand.”. Really? That doesn’t get you drummed out of the community? It sure would get you drummed out of Physics.

  6. Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
    September 2, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Every equation which holds at all, does so under given constraints of scale, gravity, pressure, etc, depending upon what is being examined. Thus, if physicists produce “interesting” new materials when dealing with electron flow, for example, they often do so at extreme temperatures. Then someone begins the onerous process of fitting the wonderful new conductivity to normal temperatures. And that normally is difficult. Similarly, if a society does not allow people approximate equality, perhaps earned by education or other effort, the relations between people are very different.

  7. September 5, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Let me bring this back as a “Recent Comment” by drawing attention to Jayarava’s comment above, with which I largely agree. I saw the problems he refers to back in 1956 when as an apprentice I first worked with scientists, who were developing cryogenics. For a few years I’ve already been able “to replace Einstein’s theory with a quantum theory of gravity and/or spacetime”. Where I think Jayarava is being unwise is following Searle into psychology. Understanding of that needs physical expression and grounding in terms of neural architecture, i.e. the “channels” and encodings of information science.

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      September 5, 2018 at 9:54 am

      All social sciences are in reality based upon the psychology of the individual in a social setting, particularly with how each of us develop our personality, character & mental apparatus generally, as psychologists/psychiatrists at least know. Yes, indeed, we are drawn to neural networks, Dave. So much to learn & comprehend, as you have found with Einstein & quantum theory. Good show.

      • September 5, 2018 at 2:31 pm

        James, the Einstein business would be a much better show if someone could help this old man to articulate and publish it. But gravity is what it is. Right now the effect of the economic situation on the environment is much more important.

        I accept that the reality the social sciences ought to be studying is as you say, but the actual social sciences seem to have followed the same Humean philosophy of science as economics: abstracting our humanity, counting “votes” and treating interpretations of statistics as if they were reality.

        I personally was drawn to neural networks only to understand how they work, not in detail what they are doing, which like microeconomics is an unstable topic. In understanding our interactions in social practice I suggest there is much more to be learned from the macro structures of brain architecture (interconnecting sensors, emotions, actuators, indexed and sensory control) and how their development and differences make possible what happens in practice.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        September 5, 2018 at 3:28 pm

        Dave, send me a version of your thinking which articulates it enough so that the ideas can be expressed mathematically. I’ll play with it. Actually I have made such efforts in the past. Perhaps my unconscious has been working on the matter these past decades….

        Neural networks can enlighten us on a lot of human behavior, one hopes.

        For me the major current issue is less the sense of national/ethnic/sexual/economic fall which may affect some Westerners, than the substantial risk of nuclear & other unpleasant immediate endings. Even giant fires & storms can do in thousands of persons at a time.
        That said, when groups don’t respect each other, life in and around them becomes unpleasant for most of us. For self-centered people, stirring negative emotions in others about another group is merely a means to their personal ends, it appears obvious.

      • September 7, 2018 at 8:49 am

        James, if a whirlpool hoovers up all around it, surely it tries to hoover up the energy captured in other whirlpools? Its obvious when you see it, but this is just a detail in the greater picture starting from a Big Bang and Hubble’s Bubble.

        I’ll be quiet for a while now, being away on holiday from the computer!

  8. September 6, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Einstein makes clear something I’ve been attempting to get across to many who post here for a very long time. Einstein is not comparing the “principles of general relativity” to reality but rather to “observations of the red shift in the spectra of massive stars.” In all science observational results are either compared directly or via a set of “principles” (theory). There’s no reality in the process. Until, that is humans make the judgement that some observations are real while others are not.

    James, if as you suggest “all social sciences are in reality based upon the psychology of the
    individual in a social setting,” that may explain why social sciences fail so often. Sapiens is an evolutionary creature, both genetically and culturally. And both forms of evolution occur between groups, not between individuals.

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      September 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      Ken, It is still well settled in cognitive anthropology, I believe, that CULTURALLY-DEFINED REALITY is what we are speaking about. When we here speak of reality I assume we refer to the Western philosophical quest. What culture reflects one’s professional training, naturally, such that I have been asked at economic conferences if I REALLY went out to observe businesses in operation. Since I currently teach in an engineering school and give a course entitled “Scientific Methods”, I head for a “measurement & applicability” test.

      • September 7, 2018 at 6:29 am

        James culturally created reality is certainly what I’m speaking about. You do your culture proud in your work. However, some who post here and many others, I believe are not referring to culturally created reality when they use that term. Many accept another cultural creation from the west – reality and human perception of reality are separate things. Perceptions may vary but reality is, not to be too subtle “real.”

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        September 7, 2018 at 7:09 am

        Our perceptions are driven by our culture (past experience), are they not? After my military experience I always avoid unruly crowds, although here in Germany we are mostly passive as you know. Just as a farmer checks their crops, I instinctively look at people’s hands & eyes in such possibly confrontive situations.

      • September 7, 2018 at 7:13 am

        James, I bet you don’t consider these perceptions as “just perceptions,” but not reality. I’ve debated many over the years who say just this.

      • September 7, 2018 at 8:40 am

        Ken, what we perceive is not reality but typically, light reflecting off the surfaces of real objects when – imperceptibly – our brains have adjusted the direction and focus of our eyes (as in the automatic focus on a digital camera) to optimise sharpness of variations. In Fregeian terminology, what we sense is a reference to the bit of reality we are sensing; conventionally, we refer to it as the reality. What we think we perceive is what our brains have – imperceptibly – found (in Russell’s sense) a name for. Moral? Don’t conflate ‘reality’ with ‘realities’.

      • September 7, 2018 at 11:04 am

        Dave, to put it in a straight forward way, reality for humans is what humans pay attention to. What is sensed and agreed to among humans as a collective is reality. The only reality possible for humans. The process is evolutionary, both genetically and culturally. And, of course part of the reality human groups create can be the belief that there is some reality beyond humans’ grasp that is the source of the reality created. This process is sometimes tacit but at other times overt. Both shaped by culture and genetic evolution.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        September 7, 2018 at 11:30 am

        Dave, Frege was super, but in the language of engineering/modern physics, “If you & others can’t measure it, in what sense does it exist aside from as a neuron activity in someone’s brain?”

      • Craig
        September 7, 2018 at 6:39 pm

        What if the experience known as satori-kensho, atonement, samadhi, grace is simply a more direct and heightened present time experience of nature as in the electro-magnetic waves that surround us in space….and that the ecstatic nature of the experience….is what it is….an ecstatic natural experience of the flow and oneness that IS the temporal universe? Then being ONLY an orthodox physicist and scientist….you’re restricting knowledge and experience.

        Not good science.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        September 8, 2018 at 7:46 am

        Completely agree, Craig. You have read the lives of the great physicists–Newton, Einstein, etc–and they all had relaxing hobbies–avenues of insight. I learn most from people when I can sit down with them at an academic conference, perhaps going for a walk or dinner. The point here, I believe, is the formal statements in academic journals. Yesterday I reread some material on quaternions, 4-dim systems: the discoverer, after many years of thinking, wrote his findings on a bridge in Ireland, as a reminder to all of how the human mind is teased into insights. Yes, they help us deal with Max Planck’s mysterious, simultaneous-existence world:

      • September 8, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        James does mysterious refer to complex. Or are you speaking about something else? There’s way too much mystification in science, particularly physics. If it’s complexity you’re referring to can we just use that term? The priesthood of physics is not helpful in human societies. Neither is the priesthood of biology, chemistry, etc. And particularly not the priesthood of economics.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        September 8, 2018 at 1:16 pm

        Again, you’ve go it, it seems to me, Ken. Priesthoods must maintain their special status, whether for themselves, their beliefs or both. To me “mysterious” means “difficult to comprehend” in both a perceptual & cognitive sense. The Bible is filled with such. “Complex” means “many components”, as in the components of the human body or an aircraft. Measurement & listing normally handles the latter initially. But “seeing” a flying human or “hearing” a divine voice? As I had a psychiatrist in the family, I was used to hearing remarks like, “Half my patients hear or see things which others don’t.” We used to use this in diagnosis of psychosis, but now seem to prefer the term “dementia”. It does put the patient in the position of having to prove their normality to the rest of us, if they have that interest.

      • September 9, 2018 at 1:17 pm

        Obfuscation in human culture goes back to the earliest western history. At least to the ancient Greeks. Mystification concerns the part deception, disguise, and dishonesty play in human actions and societies. Mystifying is about lying and hiding. Often elites mystify to maintain control and keep political, economic, and religious power in their hands. Mystification is also a way to control access to knowledge and to stratify societies. History is also often mystified so humans are made to feel rootless and alienated from history. This is often accomplished via irrelevant mythology. Science is mystified when for example supernatural explanations are substituted for phenomena science cannot yet explain. In politics “divine right” mystifies government. And religion is often mystified via inane rituals. Similarly, the human psyche is mystified by philosophy. Considering current events in the US the notion that ideology mystifies is now quite common. Ideology mystifies all aspects of “reality.” Including what exists, what is good, and what is possible. One of the most powerful of these ideologies is used by corporations and economists to mystify economic life.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        September 11, 2018 at 11:16 am

        Ken, on the media side, I have old friends who cite Fox News as if it were an authority on truth. On Brexit politicians comment profoundly on “facts”, when theirs are hard to locate.
        Like religion, you need to be a believer in each instance it seems to me.

      • September 11, 2018 at 12:33 pm

        James belief is central. But the results of belief depend upon what the belief is. Belief that my preferences should determine the “truth” of any situation I find in my observations the beliefs with which I began the observations. Belief that the “truth” of a situation is found only in as accurate as possible presentation of what’s observed results in unexpected results often different from own preferred beliefs.

      • Craig
        September 8, 2018 at 10:04 pm

        Correct. Priesthoods are the institutionalization of orthodoxies. Orthodoxies are the end of looking, knowing and the ability to unknow ….orthodoxies. Attuning one’s thinking and experience to the dynamic flowing balance and ability to discern truth in opposite perspectives of the integrative natural philosophical concept of grace is the wise alternative to orthodoxies in religion, politics, science and most urgently in economics and money systems.

      • September 9, 2018 at 1:21 pm

        Quite correct Craig. But orthodoxies don’t necessarily mean wide spread common beliefs. Many mystifying orthodoxies are minority beliefs elevated to control large portions of entire societies. Take, for example, the notion of for profit economic actions.

      • Craig
        September 11, 2018 at 5:25 pm

        What if the “belief” is the consideration of looking at everything including one’s own consciousness and its possible biases, their opposites, everything in between (or as much of it as one has currently considered) and integrating it in as coherent a way as possible? And after doing that koan….consciously or unconsciously considering dropping all of the analysis and simply experiencing the moment which doesn’t change anything from an objective standpoint, just the depth of one’s perception of the present.

      • September 12, 2018 at 6:22 am

        Craig, as I emphasized the content of one’s belief is central. Humans operate via beliefs. The Nazi believes whites are superior. The Christian believes Jesus is savior. The scientist believes observation reveals facts. Craig believes self-observation improves sell- perception. And it’s my belief more observations of improving one’s self-perception are needed to confirm its actuality.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        September 15, 2018 at 11:41 am

        Good point, Craig, but this you don’t find in institutionalized religions which have already decided what “Is” as well as what ought to be. Many of us have had fairly untyplical life experiences, so our answers to your queries might seem strange. For example, my experiences in Viet Nam have given me ideas of death & killing which may be typical of many veterans, but not of many others I expect: under what conditions do you kill & how, as an established protocol? Even police officers in high crime areas in the US seem to generally avoid this degree of planning.

      • Craig
        September 12, 2018 at 9:03 am

        Belief in Duality Only…it’s a hard nut to crack.

      • September 12, 2018 at 11:41 am

        I agree. But where would the world’s religions be without it?

      • Craig
        September 12, 2018 at 5:58 pm

        Yes, but with the increase in leisure time brought about by the new paradigm of Monetary Gifting and an intelligent acculturation of personal purpose we could become the first contemplative civilization since Hunting and Gathering out of which the existential experiences religions arose.

      • September 13, 2018 at 4:44 am

        Craig, even if that is possible I’m not certain it would help more than hurt Sapiens.

      • Craig
        September 13, 2018 at 7:33 am

        I don’t share your pessimism. Surely there will be an adjustment period, and you’ll always have the anecdotal and unfortunate instances where individuals will abuse their newly won freedoms, but overall I think the effects will be mostly positive especially if we are smart enough to have the coordinated effort I’ve suggested. Now under a stressful, onerous, dominating and manipulative system the large majority find constructive purpose. With intelligent help I would expect that percentage to increase. Homo sapiens undoubtedly had more time to contemplate life when we were hunters and gatherers and we didn’t self destruct or otherwise collapse into ennui.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        September 15, 2018 at 11:33 am

        Craig, my anecdotal observations are typical of what I personally have noted as a non-random sample of hundreds of personal observations over many decades. Glad to have contrary observations. That aside, Craig, I think our challenge as a discipline is that we are overwhelmed by strong political personalities heading governments & many corporations, as well as social movements to include feminism & a violent Islam, changing climate & technology which brings forth its fruit constantly. I read the international scientific, political & economic press daily–it’s nearly a full-time job. I’m in constant mental readjustment.

      • September 16, 2018 at 7:48 am

        Craig it’s not pessimism. It’s history. As I’ve said before Sapiens is a creative and pernicious species. The destruction is does itself and the planet on which it depends shows that clearly. Sapiens invented religion and government, and later morality in large part to help control its maliciousness and creativity.

      • Craig
        September 15, 2018 at 8:46 pm

        Excellent, that places you in an elite corps of humanity. When the world is awash in various orthodoxies and one thing seems to be the other with no actual truth, instead of choosing polarization it’s time to integrate the particles of truth in opposites. The thirdness greater oneness alternative is always wisdom, and grace the utterly integrative ethic its pinnacle natural concept that needs to be our guide. That’s why Direct and Reciprocal Monetary Distributism insightfully and rationally implemented is the third integrative alternative to capitalism and socialism.

  9. September 9, 2018 at 2:11 am

    “If the observations of the red shift in the spectra of massive stars don’t come out quantitatively​ in accordance with the principles of general relativity, then my theory will be dust and ashes.

    Albert Einstein (1920)”

    Did Albert have either a political or financial motive for making his claims? If not then how is it possible to compare this with economics?

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      September 9, 2018 at 7:14 am

      Interesting comment, as it explicitly introduces the self-interest of the researcher, whatever it might be. In physical science there is the possibility of proof via duplication of results. As we all know, conditions are always different in social & behavioral science due to different times/locations. This means the self-interest benefited by truly new ideas can not be as easily realized in our squishy area of science. Better to go with the flow of the herd, is it not? Of course, in the popular press one can be a star–until one’s great success of, say, five years ago is not duplicated.

    • September 9, 2018 at 1:25 pm

      The Economists Challenge, you seem to assume that economists and economics has some purpose in addition to manipulation and mystification. You’ll need to convince me that is the case. My observations seem to show the opposite.

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