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When Does A Science Become A Religion?

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I was watching a video of the economist Ha-Joon Chang recently. This guy is pretty skeptical as to the value of much current economic thinking but in the Q&A following his presentation he was asked an interesting question; why is it that the very smart people involved in the economics establishment seem unable to see the flaws in their ideas, despite the obvious failure of these ideas over recent times?


His reply was succinct and I thought very interesting- he said that the Vatican had some very smart people too. Now I don't wish to offend any Catholics on the forum but I think it's fair comment to say that many of the ideas inherent in the Catholic faith look very implausible to a lot of contemporary people- for instance the notion that God is both indivisible and yet had a son is hard to grasp for those not well versed in the minutiae of the faith.


Certainly there are detailed theological frameworks that account for these apparent anomalies - just as there are detailed Economics frameworks that account for the apparent contradictions that seem to exist in most Macro economic theories- but the point is that one's acceptance of these accounts seems to be more a matter of faith than empirical fact.


So the question that arises from this is just how much of what is currently accepted as scientifically 'real' is actually more of the character of a religious belief?


The Physicist Max Plank famously said ; “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because it’s opponents simply die off. Science progresses one funeral at a time.”


His point being that even in the fields of 'hard' science like physics beliefs have a quasi religious quality that renders them impervious to competing versions of reality. And if this is true of physics then what about Economics, or Sociology and Psychology and other 'softer' disciplines?


Pick up any current standard textbook on economics and you will find the following account of the evolution of money- roughly put you will be told:


In the distant past primitive societies used barter to conduct their trade- but this soon become too cumbersome so they invented money to act as a medium to exchange instead.


Seems like common sense but in reality this never happened- there is no example or account anywhere in existence that describes a society that used barter as it's primary method of exchange-in reality it was credit and debt style arrangements that were used- money came along much later. Entire complex civilizations rose and fell without any recourse to money as we understand the term.


So why the little homily about Barter? Like the Holy Trinity these ideas have their own internal logic that seems to obviate the need for empirical truth.


But this does raise a disturbing thought- if the boundaries between Science and religion are not as clear cut as we imagined then the possibility arises that for decades our societies and our Governments have been in effect intellectually captured by the members of a religous cult in the form of Macro Economics- because it is the ideas and world views of this cult that has largely guided policy and political thought .


And more disturbing still- that cult still holds sway in almost every center of influence and consultation used by the today's leaders- so it may well be that the 'reality' we currently inhabit is not as real as is supposed, being the product of a highly selective vision of how the real world actually works.

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There is a school of thought that societies drift from religious beliefs to secular beliefs and back again, depending on the prevailing opinion at the time. However, this is just a change of guard in the priesthood.

People seem to cling on to the notion that there is a higher authority. It is like a comfort blanket. Maybe one day humanity will cast this rather child like belief to one side, but there are many who enjoy playing the parents who do not wish to see this happen.

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I like that quote of Max Plank. I work with people who think the laws of physics are optional.

As for an economist saying the Vatican has a lot of smart people in it, that should worry the Pope a lot!

Perhaps the smart ones were the ones his holiness gave a Christmas B*****king to when they were expecting some anodyne crap about good will to all men (not women?).

I wouldn't bother with Plato, he insisted that decisions should be based solely on the known facts.

What about all the unknown facts?

It is the unknown facts that kill you and given the number of unknown facts vastly outweighs those that are known, failing to take them into account is asking for trouble.

Economists and historians both commit narrative fallacies when explaining the past, neither can predict the past with any accuracy because they simply cannot know enough of the facts to get it anywhere near right. Economists are the real charlatans as they pretend they can predict the future.

Abolish the Nobel prize for economics because it is not a science it is a cult that has brainwashed those who seek to govern and corrupt our world.

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He's one of the biggest Krugmanite disciplines out there. Procrastinates a lot. The Guardian seem to like him.

I figure he was sent by the Koreans to keep us screwing up our economy so we're not competitive.

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Anyway, the answer has always seemed straightfoward enough to me. Bad economics tends to equal good politics. People want instant gratification, quick solutions and short term policies. Economists with lots of letters after their names provide the intellectual backing for this. They full well know these policies are harmful, but their jobs depend on them saying otherwise.

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I was watching a video of the economist Ha-Joon Chang recently. This guy is pretty skeptical as to the value of much current economic thinking but in the Q&A following his presentation he was asked an interesting question; why is it that the very smart people involved in the economics establishment seem unable to see the flaws in their ideas, despite the obvious failure of these ideas over recent times?
His reply was succinct and I thought very interesting- he said that the Vatican had some very smart people too. Now I don't wish to offend any Catholics on the forum but I think it's fair comment to say that many of the ideas inherent in the Catholic faith look very implausible to a lot of contemporary people- for instance the notion that God is both indivisible and yet had a son is hard to grasp for those not well versed in the minutiae of the faith.
Certainly there are detailed theological frameworks that account for these apparent anomalies - just as there are detailed Economics frameworks that account for the apparent contradictions that seem to exist in most Macro economic theories- but the point is that one's acceptance of these accounts seems to be more a matter of faith than empirical fact.
So the question that arises from this is just how much of what is currently accepted as scientifically 'real' is actually more of the character of a religious belief?
The Physicist Max Plank famously said ; “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because it’s opponents simply die off. Science progresses one funeral at a time.”
His point being that even in the fields of 'hard' science like physics beliefs have a quasi religious quality that renders them impervious to competing versions of reality. And if this is true of physics then what about Economics, or Sociology and Psychology and other 'softer' disciplines?
Pick up any current standard textbook on economics and you will find the following account of the evolution of money- roughly put you will be told:
In the distant past primitive societies used barter to conduct their trade- but this soon become too cumbersome so they invented money to act as a medium to exchange instead.
Seems like common sense but in reality this never happened- there is no example or account anywhere in existence that describes a society that used barter as it's primary method of exchange-in reality it was credit and debt style arrangements that were used- money came along much later. Entire complex civilizations rose and fell without any recourse to money as we understand the term.
So why the little homily about Barter? Like the Holy Trinity these ideas have their own internal logic that seems to obviate the need for empirical truth.
But this does raise a disturbing thought- if the boundaries between Science and religion are not as clear cut as we imagined then the possibility arises that for decades our societies and our Governments have been in effect intellectually captured by the members of a religous cult in the form of Macro Economics- because it is the ideas and world views of this cult that has largely guided policy and political thought .
And more disturbing still- that cult still holds sway in almost every center of influence and consultation used by the today's leaders- so it may well be that the 'reality' we currently inhabit is not as real as is supposed, being the product of a highly selective vision of how the real world actually works.

i would be far more sceptical of those in power using innacurate science AS a new religeon.

no SUV's on mars,and their ice caps are melting too.

..rather devoid of people lately if i recall.

..so it has to be a celestial event,rather than purely driven by people.

I would agree our input could play a very small contributary factor,but the scale of that would be in the 10/ths of a percent.I do not believe we are the primary cause at all.

no problem at all with us looking for more efficient solutions for out energy and transport needs,but the PTB should not abuse the science.just tell it straight.

..with half of the world population in china+india wanting stuff like central heating and fridges to improve their standard of living(the latter acually is a benefit because their food wastage without such a commodity is absolutely massive), we can't keep to the present model.

..so it's innovate or legislate.......and the PTB want control of everybody so they are tryng to legislate.....so WE MUST INNOVATE to counteract their power grab.

Edited by oracle

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I think economists should look up the different levels of data analysis involved to understand what their models predict and the basic assumptions they make for their theories to be true.

http://datascientistinsights.com/2013/01/29/six-types-of-analyses-every-data-scientist-should-know/

They think their models reflect the lower levels on that list, while it may be nearer the top. But changing their proclamations may cause cognitive dissonance and possibly their jobs. So like Uri Geller, they convince themselves they can bend things using only their minds, leaving a spectacle of useless spoons.

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i would be far more sceptical of those in power using innacurate science AS a new religeon.

no SUV's on mars,and their ice caps are melting too.

..rather devoid of people lately if i recall.

..so it has to be a celestial event,rather than purely driven by people.

I would agree our input could play a very small contributary factor,but the scale of that would be in the 10/ths of a percent.I do not believe we are the primary cause at all.

no problem at all with us looking for more efficient solutions for out energy and transport needs,but the PTB should not abuse the science.just tell it straight.

..with half of the world population in china+india wanting stuff like central heating and fridges to improve their standard of living(the latter acually is a benefit because their food wastage without such a commodity is absolutely massive), we can't keep to the present model.

..so it's innovate or legislate.......and the PTB want control of everybody so they are tryng to legislate.....so WE MUST INNOVATE to counteract their power grab.

I read there was a stream of "dust" has been flowing onto the sun since the late 60s. It was causing it to burn a little hotter as any fire would. I read the data on both nasa s website and the ESA website. It was linked to a degree here and there in temperature rise. Twice I sent others to the links and then one day the pages just vanished. I dont trust the climate camp at all they have been up to all sorts of no good.

still this is a good site.

http://www.plantsneedco2.org/

As a keen gardener I remember pumping co2 into greenhouses to make everything grow like crazy.The do this on industrial greenhouses.

So Im off to buy a v12 :P

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There is one thing-perhaps the only thing- that both the Science camp and the Religious camp seem to agree on, which is the notion that Science is 'value free' in terms of morality while religion is supposedly the opposite- religion is all about moral values.

It's this fantasy that makes the confusion of Economics with a Science so dangerous- the delusion of economists that their policy prescriptions are 'value free' science blinds them to the reality that there is nothing morally neutral about Economics, nothing at all.

All economic choices create both winners and losers- and to frame these choices in terms of 'science' does not alter the fact that choices have been made and that those choices have consequences for real people.

The enduring fantasy at the root of current neo liberal doctrines is that there once existed- and should exist again- a state of nature in which the free market thrived completely free from the interference of the state- this is economics 'garden of Eden' it's creation myth- and it's this ideal state from which it draws it's authority as a purveyor of 'natural' truths.

Sadly the Garden of Eden never existed, nor did the free market of neo liberal fantasy- there never was a free market without a corresponding state power that both supported it and controlled it.

So the core of current macro economic thought is not some rigorous scientific discipline- but this strange nostalgic construct of a market in it's 'natural' state- a state that never really existed and never could exist.

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The difference between science and religion?

1. Isolation of cause and effect.

2. Invariance of experimental/observational results under symmetry operations.

3. An algorithmically constructible methodology.

4. Falsifiability of new predictions.

The neoclassical equilibrium model satisfies none of the above. Financial market equilbrium, for instance, is not an empirically derived fact and appears achievable theoretically only via the unrealistic assumptions of perfect knowledge/zero entropy and Olympian rationality.

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I read there was a stream of "dust" has been flowing onto the sun since the late 60s. It was causing it to burn a little hotter as any fire would. I read the data on both nasa s website and the ESA website. It was linked to a degree here and there in temperature rise. Twice I sent others to the links and then one day the pages just vanished. I dont trust the climate camp at all they have been up to all sorts of no good.

still this is a good site.

http://www.plantsneedco2.org/

As a keen gardener I remember pumping co2 into greenhouses to make everything grow like crazy.The do this on industrial greenhouses.

So Im off to buy a v12 :P

Blessed are the Pinworthy!

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Science (scientific method) is about the formation of predictive models. That is all.

Any model can be superceded by a new one if its predictions provide better correlation with events (witness Einstein vs. Newton).

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I studied economics at first degree and came to the conclustion that it is no more than fancy arguments to support political objectives. Marxism was invented to support someones idea that the difference between rich and poor is bad.

The Corn Laws were artificially adding to the price of food... invent market economics to argue for a reduction in tax?

Monetarianism was invented as an antithesis to high levels of government spending..?

Keynes invented govenment intervention to address the percieved injustice,,.. (political idea that) of the great depression.

Yet no economics theory could predict the loss of 60,000 light manufacturing jobs in the midlands during the late 60's.. The collapse of the Uk motorcycle industry in the face of .japanese imports. .. I did enjoy my three years ..

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