A Cambridge political economist explains:
A funny thing happened on its way to becoming a science: economics seldom tested its premises empirically. Only in recent years has there been serious investigation of its core assumptions and, all too often, they’ve been found wanting.
Unlike in physics, there are no universal and immutable laws of economics. You can’t will gravity out of existence. But as the recurrence of speculative bubbles shows, you can unleash ‘animal spirits’ so that human behaviour and prices themselves defy economic gravity. Change the social context – in economic parlance, change the incentive structure – and people will alter their behaviour to adapt to the new framework.
That’s something that ‘physics envy’ can’t capture – that the social nature of human beings makes any laws of behaviour tentative and contextual. In fact, the very term ‘social science’ is probably best seen as an oxymoron.
John Rapley, “Few things are as dangerous as economists with physics envy” at Aeon
“Social science” is not just an “oxymoron”; it is a form of corruption. The Sokal hoax, which has brought so much ridicule on social science disciplines, would be impossible without the pretense that these pursuits are sciences.
If these pursuits are art, not science, the art is only crazy when the artist is. And one can choose which artist to follow.
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