Mario Rizzo takes you inside the pseudo-scientific mind of the contemporary academic “economist”. No wonder the economics profession is widely perceived to be as culpable in the current economic debacle as Congress, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve, and just as much a failed institution as Lehman Bros., GM, Countrywide, the rating agencies, Freddie and Fanny, and the SEC. Rizzo’s comments section is also very interesting:
This [post] brought back some sour memories of my graduate school days at NYU:
* In 1st year macro, every week we were shown a mathematical model, went through the math, and were shown the conclusions, with no thought to whether any of this made sense or had anything to do with the economy. After a while, I could hold back no longer, and said what I thought. The prof had little interest in debating the issue, and a fellow student who was sympathetic to my views pointed out that almost all the students regarded my outburst as a negative externality, interfering with their attempts to understand the math.
* When it came time to recruit a dissertation committee, I discussed my topic with one prospective committee member, with the blunt message that I didn’t intend to do any formal modeling in the dissertation. He, equally bluntly, told me that without either formal modeling or some econometrics, he wouldn’t sign off on a Ph.D. Amazing criteria: they completely rule out dissertation topics in huge areas of economics. Needless to say, I kept him off my committee.
But the methodological fascists won – I fled economics as soon as I finished the Ph.D. In what I regard as a repudiation of those who assume that any reputable economist would choose not to use math only because he can’t do math, I am happily ensconced in a career as an actuary, where I use math when it makes sense, and avoid it when it doesn’t.