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Is economics ultimately a collection of just-so stories? Do we like the paradox of thrift because it is consistent with solidarity politics?

I think economics, done properly (rare, I know), lends itself more to our way of thinking than is commonly thought because of what passes for economics on television.

What it should be is a combination of sociology, political science, logic, and statistics.  What it winds up being in too many cases is mathematics' retarded brother.

Simon Johnson's blog had a post up on this the other day that made a point I've -- clumsily -- tried to make in the past, noting differences in opinion between PhD economists and undergraduates (the former being quite a bit more liberal than the latter): Studying economics as an undergraduate tends to correlate with becoming a Republican, but going on to a PhD tends to swing the person back to the left.

A little bit of economics can be a dangerous thing.

You have to get fairly deep into the subject, or you wind up believing crazy shit because your Macro 101 textbook had a pretty graph and your professor was more interested in writing papers than teaching properly.  You get people believing that RATEX is actually true rather than simply a tool for isolating other variables, which leads to all kinds of other absurdities.

Part of it is a time problem, I think.  It's difficult to fit the basic concepts of the different areas into a semester, let alone really dig into information asymmetries, price and wage adjustment, etc.  At best they'll tend to be covered to some extent in the intermediate-level classes.  And I'd guess most students aren't really interested in diving that deep into the field.  They just want the degree.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Jun 9th, 2010 at 06:56:51 AM EST
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