Saturday, June 6, 2009

Is Economics a Science?

my friend garreth clued me in to; hosted by Robert ....

The debate these days in the economics field, at least, is about whether or not, econs is a science.

When a field of study is labelled as science; it carries with it a whole bag of connotations.

When its a science, its measurable. Quantifiable. Understandable. You can render it in so many numbers and capture its essence in formula and greek. The field of study is suddenly tame. People feel safer when they are told that a method's scientific when in truth what they mean by scientific is that the tests are repeatable. That a theory formed on the basis of past data can then be verified via experimental data.

I majored in econs. In my fourth year, I got deeper into it and got into public economics debate. The questions of grand social welfare - of how to make either all of us happy or none at all or at least indifferent - I barely scratched the surface of that field and found myself pondering semantics.

To do econs, is an exercise in logical representation of reality and human behaviour in response to needs and wants. The math's just shorthand. The math summarizes all the working parts and forces you to study and define the problem within the spartan framework of algebra so as to get at its essence. It ought to be experienced. Econs that is. Have someone sit in front of you and debate the public policy options and you start to realize that without some kind of framework of thinking. Econs has a lot of tools that it can use to dissect tricky problems. And the world produces our experimental results which proves or disproves the theories.

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