Sunday, September 1, 2013

Is Economics A Science?

Science may help to convey
The world that we live in today,
To predict and construe
And hypothesize, too,
In a rational, testable way.
Economists have their devices
To model employment and prices
And cloak their decrees in
The mantle of reason;
The question is: if that suffices. 

The label of "science" may serve
To misname economists' oeuvre,
When considering deeply
Their failure to keep the
Investors ahead of the curve. 

It's been said that the econ profession
Made an unscientific impression 
When the models they picked
Could rarely predict
How soon we will have a recession. 

An incontrovertible fact is 
That theory may falter in practice
When we try to project
And falsely expect
That people are rational actors. 

If we try not to place our reliance
That with logic man stays in compliance,
It might be allowed 
By the PhD crowd:
Economics, though dismal, is science. 

Greetings to all those making the trek back to college or graduate school this weekend, as I am with our college sophomore today (go Greyhounds!). Here is a special shout-out to those of you returning to study the Dismal Science, which has recently come under attack in a New York Times opinion piece for a surplus of the former and a surfeit of the latter.  Though highly regarded economists arose in honorable and forthright defense of the profession, it seemed as though the gates had been opened for Wall Street skeptics to voice long-held doubts

Take heart, students, and be not troubled by such thoughts. Remember though, that while the science of economics may labor to measure and model how prices and employment have done and will do, the philosophy of economics may not shrink from the debate over what they should do. While studying social science, consider toward what sort of society you are working, and remember that all of those economic actors are people. 

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