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Advice to aspiring economists – Lars Syll

“Submission to observed or experimental data is the golden rule which dominates any scientific discipline. Any theory whatever, if it is not verified by empirical evidence, has no scientific value and should be rejected.” – Maurice Allais

Maurice Allais

Formalistic deductive “Glasperlenspiel” can be very impressive and seductive. But in the realm of science it ought to be considered of little or no value to simply make claims about a model and lose sight of reality.

Mainstream – neoclassical – economics has since long given up on the real world and contents itself with proving things about made up worlds. Empirical evidence only plays a minor role in economic theory, where models largely function as a substitute for empirical evidence. Hopefully humbled by the manifest failure of its theoretical pretences, the one-sided, almost religious, insistence on axiomatic-deductivist modeling as the only scientific activity worthy of pursuing in economics will give way to methodological pluralism based on ontological considerations rather than formalistic tractability.

What the discipline of economics needs is sound evidence. Why? Because the premises of a valid argument do not have to be true, but a sound argument, on the other hand, is not only valid, but builds on premises that are true. Aiming only for validity, without soundness, is setting the aspiration level too low for economics to develop as a realistic and relevant science.

Source: Real World Econ Rev, 28 Sep 2016

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