Economics

Standard membercrikey63
Science 23 Feb '15 15:22
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    23 Feb '15 15:22
    When nobel prize winning economist Milton Friedman stated that assumptions weren't important , it was predictions that mattered , it doesn't seem that scientific, have I missed something .
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    23 Feb '15 19:472 edits
    I don't know exactly what he meant by that in its proper context and, not being an expert on his work, for I know, perhaps it made some kind of 'sense' in a narrow context he used it in.

    However, that assertion in the wider scientific context is certainly completely unscientific. This is because it ignores Occam's razor and, if you do that, any ridiculous theory, no matter how assumptive, is passed as scientifically legitimate providing it make exactly the same predictions as a theory that is exactly the same but without any superfluous assumption. For example, you could have the theory of relativity but add the superfluous assumption "and Goddidit" (or words of that effect ) at every turn and, without Occam's razor, because such a theory still makes the same testable (and largely confirmed ) predictions, that would pass as 'scientific' -but it wouldn't be because it makes ridiculous unnecessary assumptions not needed for the theory to work.
  3. Standard memberDeepThought
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    23 Feb '15 23:12
    Originally posted by crikey63
    When nobel prize winning economist Milton Friedman stated that assumptions weren't important , it was predictions that mattered , it doesn't seem that scientific, have I missed something .
    It strongly depends on the context in which he said it. If one makes some assumptions and the resultant model produces realistic results then the assumptions gain post hoc justification. If on the other hand he could just have been attempting to deflect valid criticism of his theory, in a fallacious fashion - I find it difficult to believe he produced a model which made particularly precise or testable predictions.

    There are economic models which make outrageous assumptions and you can change the qualitative behaviour of a model by relaxing some assumption - such as agents having perfect information [1]. Since the predictions of a model depend on the assumptions in it, and if they don't the assumptions may as well not have been made, I do not agree with his statement.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_model#Pitfalls
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    24 Feb '15 05:23
    It seems to me to be a get out when economists are asked about the validity of the assumptions the have used constructing models. I'm neither an economist or have any real scientific knowledge , but even to me it seems obvious that predictions can come true , the difficulty is to relate the result to the basic assumptions , isnt this the nature of science ,causality.
    Economics also has a larger margin of error than say predictions in the physical sciences , isnt it totally subjective wether a prediction is shown to be accurate.
    When is a subject science or pseudo science.
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    24 Feb '15 06:48
    A chemist , a physicist and and an economist are stranded on a desert island with cases of baked beans but no means of opening them . The chemist says he can put the cans on the fire and work out when they willl explode , the physicist says he can then work out the trajectory of the exploding beans . The economist thinks for a bit and says lets assume we have a can opener.
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    24 Feb '15 18:31
    Economics is often called the Dismal Science. Two groups of people vehemently disagree with this name - economists because they claim economy isn't dismal, scientists because economy isn't a science.
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    24 Feb '15 18:48
    Originally posted by Shallow Blue
    Economics is often called the Dismal Science. Two groups of people vehemently disagree with this name - economists because they claim economy isn't dismal, scientists because economy isn't a science.
    Economics can be studied scientifically. That doesn't mean that it always is.
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