Well you started right out with what sounded like stating credentials. I apologize for the snide dismissal in my response. Reaction.

But what I said is true in my experience and borne out in studies. STEM graduates like me (mathematics) tend to have broad education and knowledge; I speak several foreign languages (I live my life in Vietnamese), I play classical instruments, I know classical music inside and out. I read a lot of literature and among the arts only poetry and dance don’t hold my interest. I’ve never stopped learning and I argue against widely-accepted physical hypotheses like Dark Matter and String Theory.

Liberal arts graduates tend to know quite a bit about science and other areas outside their field of study.

Then you get to the business majors; MBA, advertising, corporate law .. not only do most of them know very little outside economics but they hold other fields in undisguised contempt; they don’t need to learn any physics or chemistry, only the revenue stream matters to them and they regard people like me as frivolous wasters of time. This was stunningly demonstrated in the dotcom days when investors poured billions into startups whose technology they didn’t understand at all. Some of these, like “Linux PCs,” were ridiculous and everyone in IT knew it. And every year billions go into manipulating perception of company values to drive up stock prices.

Where this really chaps my ass is the widely-accepted that nobody who doesn’t work in finance deserves a six-figure income. I got a lot of this in the dotcom days. They looked down on us, and my questions about basic science were a response. You have a graduate degree and don’t even know what the Periodic Table is? You can’t be serious.

I have known several economics doctorates. None of them were working in finance. Every one of them told me that they knew, and knew with conviction, that they had studied a far-from-rigorous pseudoscience that was only beginning to get serious,

Let me get a little specific about this. Scientific method is a methodology; if you have an idea you propose a hypothesis. This leads to experiments; if the hypothesis is true the results should be A, otherwise they should be B (I am simplifying a lot here). If the hypothesis succeeds then it advances to a theory. If not — and this is the important part — then the hypothesis has been falsified and joins all the others that failed. And theory is as high as it gets; scientists don’t regard anything as proven, they just have high confidence in it.

There is a nomenclature problem here; “theory” is what non-scientists would call proven but it sounds like it’s just an idea, a hypothesis, so even people who should know better say that “evolution is just a theory,” thinking that means what a scientist would call a hypothesis. In reality evolution is as confidently established as electricity.

OK, now let me tie this in. In economics there are only hypotheses. Controlled experiments are nearly impossible and beset by complicating factors. And — here we go — economics never falsifies. Ideas like Laffer economics that have failed every test, have never been shown to work, remain as esteemed as ever and universities are loaded with tenured professors teaching things as ridiculous as Flat Earth.

There is hope in the Santa Fe school of economics; it is producing results. It’s not all bad. But as a study of human behavior economics is a long way from being a true science, because it never takes out the trash.

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American Software Developer living in Vietnam. Classical musician (guitar, woodwinds), weightlifter, multilingual, misanthrope • XY

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