I’m not able to post this on Stephen Williamson’s New Monetarist Economics blog. So I’ll post it here.
“If it’s a good economic idea, and correct, you have to be able to do the math.”
Here’s my challenge.
Give me the “math” of genuine uncertainty, Stephen.
Give me the “math” of evolving human judgment and genuine human learning in the context of novel and changing local conditions, changing profits and losses, and changing relative prices.
And a parallel case: give me the “math” Stephen for the advance of science — or for the discovery process of invention.
As Nobel Prize winner after Nobel Prize winner in Economics has explained, economists are as liable to be blinded and misled and confused by their mathematical constructs as they are to discover anything true about the world.
Everyone knows the virtues of math — everything is a “given” knowable to one mind, and everything is mathematically tractable.
Any working scientist can explain to you that not all phenomena are mathematically tractable, and yet for all that the phenomena continue to exist.
And needless to say, the whole problem of economic coordination exists just because the problem of economic coordination isn’t characterized by a set of “givens” knowable to one mind — and the coordination solution to that problem is NOT a tractable mathematical equilibrium construct — it involves groping in trades outside of equilibrium guided by human judgments of the potential future significance of changing profits and losses, relative prices of all sorts, and changing local conditions.
There is a very large chance that an economist is precisely and objectively blind to the nature of the phenomena at hand if they are so confused to think there is a math construct “model” of what I describe in the paragraph above, which is given to one mind as a tautological, formal equilibrium construct.