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Economics ruled by ideology

John Rawson (NZ)

As a scientist, I am appalled at the way in which economists refer to science in astoundingly weird ways.

I am a biologist and a retired practical “dirt forester”. Biologists have reacted to their discipline being despised by some physical scientists as a “soft science” by very scrupulously defining scientific method and adhering to it. If anyone wishes to get hold of an excellent explanation of it – far too long to repeat here – they should obtain a now fairly old text put out by the USA Biological Science Curriculum Studies group, its “blue” version – Molecules to Man. For a very brief but mainly correct outline, go to Wikipedia.

The bottom line is that economics is not a science and never will be until it adopts Baconian inductive reasoning. That is, by discarding any hypothesis which can be disproved. A hypothesis is an idea put up for testing against reality or further experimentation. If enough people support it, then it becomes a theory. In a scientific exercise, the easily disproved Say’s “law” should never have gotten past the hypothetical stage in economics.

With due deference to our editor, whose knowledge exceeds mine in many ways, ideology and science are so different that one could never “triumph over” the other. Perhaps “reason” or “logic” should have replaced the word “science”. Ideology should set the aims, and science should be the tool that provides for their achievement. If our aim is, for example, a fair economic deal for all men and women, then a scientific approach is necessary to achieve that.

Economists definitely should be querying which ideology is behind the present results of their theorising, which appear always to promote the benefits of the financial institutions and other big business concerns at the expense of the public.

Could it be connected with the absolute monopoly that corporate banking has over the right to create money used in the economy other than paper and coin currency? And, in the USA, with the replacement of Treasury issued “Greenbacks” by US Federal Reserve notes? Might it have something to do with persisting in the story that normal income is – and must be – linked to employment, whether that employment is useful or not? Or how easily “intellect- ual capture” is facilitated when so many of today’s schools of economics receive funding from powerful vested interests? Not to mention the downright untruths presented in orthodox macroeconomics texts? Or the bank-funded imitation of “Nobel” prizes?

Economics seems to have had an obsession to be identified as a science. If so, that was done by people for whom the kindest possible description would be that they had no clue whatever about what they were promoting.

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