Home > Economic policy > La Trobe cuts economics: a bad signal

La Trobe cuts economics: a bad signal

July 11th, 2014

La Trobe University is in serious financial difficulty, which is not surprising given the pressures on universities, and particularly newer universities operating in a “competitive” market that is in fact rigged in favor of the traditional sandstones (like UQ, where I work). Also unsurprising, given past experience, is the decision to make sharp cuts in the economics program. Cutting out economics to focus on business degrees seems to be a routine response of second-tier institutions. But it seems to me to be shortsighted, even in marketing terms. The presence or absence of an economics program is one of the clearest signals of whether or not an institution aspires to be in the top rank.

Categories: Economic policy Tags:
  1. Newtownian
    July 11th, 2014 at 13:22 | #1

    The weird agenda of this government doesn’t stop there.

    At my (Go8) university the engineering ARC linkage grants this round were reportedly the best in the country but in practice were bugger all. One wonders what ‘business’ means beyond creative accounting.

    A second indicator is amazingly medical. Behind all the brouhaha I’m told that the most cost effective form – public health stuff – is being cut.

    Heaven knows what is going through their minds except something like privatize everything and the invisible hand will solve all and achieve a pareto optimum – or some sophistry like that.

    Any bets on what is next?

    My money is on defence. There are plenty of mercenary models – Xe (that group of Arnie/Steven Segal/Dolf wannabes or something like that), the Gurkas (who recently illustrated their disposability), the Wild Geese (from the Bible according to Hollywood) and of course that cheap migrant labor force the Romans used (except I don’t think they ever left) – the Vandals.

    These coalition guys are giving Commodus a good name.

  2. sunshine
    July 11th, 2014 at 14:55 | #2

    I did a Humanities degree at La Trobe in Melbourne part time over 7or 8 years finishing about 12 years ago . The Howard assault had begun .The Humanities dept was shrinking fast and the new buildings being built were science or business related. We were having courses cut ,merged and abbreviated as the emphasis shifted to sectors more obviously vocationally oriented in the short term. Its interesting to hear that even economics is going .

    I suppose once the end of history has been reached there is not much need for theory anymore .Best simply to concentrate on the task of making money.

  3. ZM
    July 11th, 2014 at 16:00 | #3

    “I suppose once the end of history has been reached there is not much need for theory anymore”

    I asked a somewhat older economics professor who gave our economics class a few guest lecturers about the epistemology/ies upon which the economics was based – and he said those sort of questions had not really been looked at much in the discipline since the 1980s, for what that’s worth.

    I’d be interested in anyone has started reading the UN report on decarbonisation and economic growth that has just recently come out.

    I have a few concerns so far – largely to do with the positioning of anthropogenic climate change as an opportunity for a grandscale public-private partnership (which was something also raised a a recent emergency action on climate change forum I attended ) which rings ‘shock doctrine’ bells; also in that the report seems to position Australia as a place to dispose of global carbon through (so far non-proven) carbon capture and storage technology, and fails to note the other GHGs and interrelated sustainability issues . I haven’t finished the report but would be interested on thought if anyone else has been reading it ?

  4. hc
    July 11th, 2014 at 16:59 | #4

    It is important not to accept commonplace myths about the demand for economics teaching. The demand for the dedicated economics degree at universities like La Trobe has fallen as degrees in finance and business have developed. But the demand for economics courses has not. Students recognise the value of economics courses. In 2004 the number of students doing trade theory at La Trobe was around 74. By 2012 it was 450. I wonder how many universities in Australia could boast of such enrolments in a third year trade subject! The same is true for many other units taught at La Trobe – microeconomics, econometrics to name just two. In 2012 there were more than 7000 student course enrolments in economics units at La Trobe. As a school we paid our way in terms of service payments to the university and earned a profit after doing so.

    Since 2012 responsibility for teaching key courses such as statistics has been taken away from economics and the core macroeconomics and microeconomics courses have been collapsed into a single first year unit. It is these moves – not a decline in demand for economics that has created the situation at La Trobe. Planned cuts in staffing from (28 to 10) are however some of the heaviest relative to cuts across the whole university. While other business areas have been cut I agree with you that this does reduce the attractiveness of business offerings.

    I disagree with the label “second tier” applied to universities such as La Trobe. It is in my view a bad way of thinking about universities. Academics and their work should be judged on the basis of what they deliver in terms of teaching and research not using some pejorative collective identity and label. On this basis of what it delivers La Trobe does pretty well in economics and in many other areas such as arts and the sciences – we add lots of value to students and do good quality research particularly compared to G8 universities which have much lighter teaching loads. The alumni (cited in the link) we have graduated cover the past 30 years are testimony to the useful role that La Trobe economics has played in Australia.

  5. John Quiggin
    July 11th, 2014 at 18:57 | #5

    @hc

    I didn’t express myself perfectly. I think that La Trobe and the other 1970-vintage universities historically have done a good job in a lot of fields. But the response of their managers to the crisis has had the effect of embracing a “second-tier” label

  6. sdfc
    July 11th, 2014 at 21:32 | #6

    How about economics departments offer units on how the monetary system actually works?

    That would be a step forward.

  7. paul walter
    July 11th, 2014 at 23:01 | #7

    Never mind, they can get a “Macdonalds Centre for Nutrition Studies”, or maybe a “Philip Morris Memorial Faculty for Circulatory and Respiratory Research”.

  8. July 11th, 2014 at 23:51 | #8

    The presence or absence of an economics program is one of the clearest signals of whether or not an institution aspires to be in the top rank.
    Hahaha! So Aussie universities have reached the point where their seriousness is explicitly judged on how much they suck up to the ruling class? Which has been the job of the economics “discipline” for the past 40 years…

  9. Ernestine Gross
    July 12th, 2014 at 06:40 | #9

    @Faustusnotes

    “Hahaha! So Aussie universities have reached the point where their seriousness is explicitly judged on how much they suck up to the ruling class? Which has been the job of the economics “discipline” for the past 40 years.”

    This comment could come only from a source where ‘economics’ is seen as just one subject (course) in an organisational unit named ‘business and economics’ or simply ‘business’ within an institution labelled ‘tertiary’ (ie where everything is the wrong way around).

  10. Ernestine Gross
    July 12th, 2014 at 07:40 | #10

    sdfc :How about economics departments offer units on how the monetary system actually works?
    That would be a step forward.

    In the 1970s at least one 1970s university did offer a unit you ask for (I know because I took it). At that time, it was much easier to offer a unit on how the monetary system “actually” works then what it would be now because at that time the institutional environment (pre the 1980s big bang deregulation) allowed a neat separation of the monetary system from finance, macroeconomics, various subject areas of microeconomics relevant for the internal operation of financial organisations.

    I’ve worked and studied at G8 and 1970s universities in Australia and I studied for some time at two EU universities. I fully concur with Prof Quiggin.

  11. J-D
    July 12th, 2014 at 09:19 | #11

    The concept of a distinction between ‘top-rank’ and ‘second-tier’ institutions (what it might mean and why it might matter) is one that could stand a much deeper and more extensive analysis than I think it can be given in one blog comment, so I’m going to zero in on just one narrow aspect. If a university does (tacitly if not candidly) resign itself to being labelled and perceived as ‘second-tier’, who is hurt by that, and how? Conceivably its graduates might suffer, their ability to compete with graduates of ‘top-rank’ institutions being reduced — but then, if they were unable to gain entry to a ‘top-rank’ institution, that’s not the fault of the ‘second-tier’ institution, is it? By offering applicants a second choice (after the presumed failure), even if one labelled as inferior, the ‘second-tier’ institution is offering them a benefit, not a penalty, surely?

  12. Ikonoclast
    July 12th, 2014 at 09:31 | #12

    It’s my day for anecdotal evidence so I will continue in that vein. Last time I was in the UQ bookshop, I noticed a huge amount of shelf space devoted to management and business studies textbooks and very small amounts of shelf space devoted to the hard sciences or to medicine, economics, political economy and the arts and humanities.

    I guess the best spin we can put on this is that real knowledge and timeless literature are limited but bulldust can be proliferated endlessly. Hence, the disparities I observed.

  13. Jamie
    July 12th, 2014 at 09:37 | #13

    John, how do you substantiate the claim “La Trobe University is in serious financial difficulty”?

    Have you looked at their annual reports for 2012 & 2013? Or just believe what university management tells you? 2013 saw profits up +50% and cash +$5million (and this was after an extra $20million paid down on debt at the last minute). Universities have operating margins better than most blue chip companies.

    There is an agency problem here where VC’s are simply cutting costs to fund their glory attracting white elephants.

  14. hc
    July 12th, 2014 at 10:59 | #14

    On Jamie’s point the NTEU dispute the claim that LTU is in serious financial difficulties. I don’t know about this but wonder why areas that are profitable are being cut. There is always the argument that “we want to do better” but that would suggest people are not working at reasonable workload levels or that the range of subjects can be cut (by more than 50% in the case of economics) without influencing demand.

    Generally while universities insist that first-year students back up their arguments with logic and evidence I don’t see the same requirements being placed on administrators. A lose claim that the demand for economics has fallen that is not supported by evidence can be used as the basis for extreme actions that damage many lives.

    On Iconoclast’s point I also notice the change in the character of the university bookshops. I guess they are responding to demands but something seems to have got lost. Many now sell kid’s lollies and really non-academic titles – “The 5 minute guide to physics” etc. In the maths area of the bookshop most seem to be on computer science – an important discipline no doubt but only a part of mathematics. One of the reasons I like visiting the US are the superb university bookshops that offer reference as well as textbook and popular material.

  15. July 12th, 2014 at 11:15 | #15

    No Ernestine, it’s a comment from someone who notes that the economics field doesn’t use peer review, has very poor technical skills, can’t agree on fundamental principles, and shames itself selling propaganda for the rich. Think wegman, Reinhardt and rogoff, tol, etc.

    There is no chance for example that a physicist would have to write a book dismissing zombie ideas in physics, as our host has had to do. Such poor quality thinking only exists in economics. It will be taken seriously as a discipline by the rest of academia when it stops publishing in technical reports, agrees on basic principles, and adopts the same transparency towards funding and conflicts of interest as the real sciences. Until then it is just shoddy stats and poor science, being used as propaganda for the rich.

  16. Neil
    July 12th, 2014 at 11:39 | #16

    @hc

    I am very surprised that you find US university bookshops better. Most are now run by Barnes & Noble, and the books on offer are typical of the chain (Borders without the intellectual pretensions, and with a smaller range). Further, the great majority of floorspace is taken up with merchandise, mainly associated with the football team. My sample size isn’t very large, but that’s true of the several Ivy and similar status places I’ve been in the past 2 years, as well as of the smaller, less prestigious places.

  17. hc
    July 12th, 2014 at 12:27 | #17

    Neil, I remember good bookstores at University of Chicago and around Berkeley. It was a few years back.

  18. may
    July 12th, 2014 at 13:01 | #18

    sdfc :How about economics departments offer units on how the monetary system actually works?
    That would be a step forward.

    but no one knows where all the money in the “monetary system” is,let alone how the system actually works.

  19. Neil
    July 12th, 2014 at 13:41 | #19

    @hc
    The University of Chicago bookstore is now a B&N.

  20. Totaram
    July 12th, 2014 at 14:07 | #20

    @may
    I’m sure that is not true. Maybe it is in the interest of certain parties that people don’t get to know. For example, Glen Stevens “took” money for the RBA from the “government” to “strengthen” the RBA’s reserves, which he admitted was mostly for cosmetic reasons.

    As regards shutting down economics at LTU, I would agree with Jamie that large amounts of money are wasted by “management” in so-called strategic initiatives, which never seem to work. I recall there was a hospitality unit opened by LTU at Mt. Buller (now defunct). Other “reorganisations” like the “alignment” of Bendigo with the Bundoora campus ended in decimating staff who were doing quite well at Bendigo, etc. etc. Coalition Governments have also been chipping away at the University system since John Howard came in and they have been quite successful in hastening its ultimate demise. Only the Go8 will remain in the end, and the only really good research that will be done in Australia will be in Medicine/Biochemistry, if that. That is because they have two sources of research funding (ARC and NHMRC) rather than just the one. But then if the average voter thinks Unis are a waste of money, and the right wing encourages that perception, what can you expect?

  21. kevin1
    July 12th, 2014 at 19:50 | #21

    @hc #4

    Does the Latrobe management think that economics is not vocational enough for it to keep? From the TAFE side, the huge Victorian cuts in recent years have forced hurried shotgun marriages. Having taught in 2012 the TAFE economics subject which, when passed, enables students to go directly to second year economics at Latrobe, I was surprised at Latrobe’s lack of interest in the inferior (TAFE produced) textbook or control of assessment and curriculum. Certainly lower TAFE standards operate compared to first year economics at Deakin or Swinburne.

    It’s a training culture not a reflective, intellectual culture in TAFE. Is going to second year uni econ subjects with their theoretical demands and esoteric content a bridge too far for them? They’d probably be keen on political economy rather than dry first year micro/macro models and confusing debates about new keynesianism, rational expections etc. Do many of the TAFE entrants make it to 3rd year economics?

    This is a pity as the background of many TAFE students – refugees, mature age, full time workers, often without year 12 – can make them committed students: eager to learn, craving relevance, testing their formed worldviews.

    A rigorous knowledge of mainstream economics, where it is wrong and right is crucial to developing alternatives, I think. But so is knowledge of economic history, a discipline which got dropped long ago from universities and I presume has not returned. If you don’t want to know the past, you don’t want to learn, and more importantly, you risk the future. Is there any course where students get to read about how our economic institutions developed, and what was the backdrop? I have just read John Edwards’ book about the 30s and 40s Australian debates and the significance of Curtin’s wartime economic planning which helped me understand why we are “here” economically.

  22. Ernestine Gross
    July 13th, 2014 at 08:34 | #22

    @Faustusnotes

    @ 15:

    1. Your source is wrong in saying “the economics field doesn’t use peer review, has very poor technical skills, can’t agree on fundamental principles”

    2. This thread is about the teaching of Economics at universities. Your reference to JQ’s book on Zombie ideas is irreleant (have you read the book?)

    3. Physicists in the applied area of climate science did and do have to write a lot in response to the Christopher Monckton’s of this world.

    And so forth.

  23. July 13th, 2014 at 11:28 | #23

    Ernestine,

    1. I cited three major recent scandals in economics, all of which were published in non peer-reviewed fora.

    2. John’s book explains to laypeople how basic errors of economic theory persist. Many of the people perpetuating these basic errors are economists and he cites examples. That is surely relevant to whether economics as a discipline is organized and coherent enough to have a strong theoretical basis. The scenario he lays out is the equivalent of ,odeon laypeople and engineers continuing to believe the earth is flat and the aether real because physicists still can’t agree on basic theory.

    3. Moncton is not a physicist, but a madman. Climate scientists do not have to write articles debunking dumb ideas by other climate scientists. But just recently Gelman had to school Tol in basic stats, some economics graduates had to fight to show Reinhardt and rogoff can’t use excel (which doesn’t even touch on their execrable modeling), and there was a big debate between economists (including quiggin) about the stern review because they could not agree on the basic principles of discounting. There is ample evidence (that I am presenting and you are ignoring) that economics as a discipline is shambolic.

    If john had written that no university that drops underwater basket weaving can be taken seriously, everyone would laugh. But underwater basket weaving as a subject would have a more coherent underlying theory, better and more replicable results, and less corruption than modern economics. It would contribute more intellectually and morally to a capstone university degree than your average economics faculty, and do less to corrupt the institution.

    The central point of this post is not just wrong -it is the diametric opposite of the correct argument, which is that after 100 years economics has proven to be academically shallow, theoretically contradictory, and deeply corrupt, and institutions of higher learning should drop it.

  24. Ernestine Gross
    July 13th, 2014 at 16:02 | #24

    @Faustusnotes

    None of what you say is relevant to the topic of this thread.

  25. Chris O’Neill
    July 13th, 2014 at 21:14 | #25

    It’s amusing watching goalposts being moved around.

  26. sdfc
    July 13th, 2014 at 21:20 | #26

    @Ernestine Gross

    Ernestine

    That’s not an argument for teaching relevant monetary economics. The monetary system can’t be separated from finance. The money supply is largely the liabilities of the banking sector. To teach anything else is incorrect.

  27. Ernestine Gross
    July 14th, 2014 at 09:48 | #27

    @sdfc

    Monetary economics is not quite the same as the “actual” monetary system (IMHO). The former is much broader than the latter in terms of relevant material. The question to which I replied was ‘how does the monetary system “actually” work. My point was that prior to the ‘big bang’ deregulation of the (international) financial system, the monetary system was a version of the Bretton Woods system, which could be easier separated (in terms of designing teaching units) from finance and macroeconomics. That is Finance as we know it today with derivatives, and other complex synthetic financial securities did not exist in the 1970s but the link to the monetary policy aspect of macroeconomics was well established (SRD ratios, various measures of ‘money supply’, Mo, M1, M3…).

    As you can see from the series of BASEL measures, the ‘liability’ side of bank balance sheets is no longer a reasonably meaningful element of a notion of ‘money’.

    Teaching the 1970s version of ‘monetary system’ is, IMHO, no longer adequate.

  28. July 15th, 2014 at 01:27 | #28

    Ernestine, your comments about monetary theory are also irrelevant to the topic of this thread. The topic of this thread is that universities that want to be taken seriously should waste their money on a prestige faculty that deals in lies, intellectual dishonesty, corruption, and propaganda, and has no coherent framework for the development of knowledge within its field. Is this how you think universities should work? Do you think that academic inquiry should proceed by marshalling data and methods to prove certain pre-conceived ends at any cost, preferably in the service of the very rich? Why do you think these concepts are irrelevant to a debate about whether a university prioritizes spending cuts in a discipline that has no intellectual credibility, rather than say, any other discipline in academia?

  29. Ernestine Gross
    July 15th, 2014 at 08:19 | #29

    @faustusnotes

    I suggest you enrol and take a degree in Economics (not commerce) at a university which still has a School of Economics or a Faculty of Economics and then come back to comment.

  30. July 15th, 2014 at 10:34 | #30

    @Ernestine Gross
    Ernestine I don’t think you can prevent non-economists from commenting on economics – we are allowed to speak about our perception of the discipline. If our perceptions are wrong, it would be more useful to explain why.

    I wouldn’t express my perception as harshly as fn, but I do perceive mainstream or free market economics as a discipline that is very different and that departs from what are generally accepted standards in knowledge formation. Specifically, in most disciplines it seems to be accepted that one forms theories and tests them against evidence (however one defines evidence, which may be ‘objective reality’ for positivists, or other subjectivities for non-positivists such as myself). In mainstream economics it appears that when theory (eg the theory that free markets best serve to maximise utility) does not fit with evidence (eg the GFC) economists will simply argue that evidence needs to be changed to fit theory.

    So against positivist (reality based) arguments, economists appear to argue that the reason that markets don’t maximise utility is that they aren’t properly “free” and reality needs to be modified in order to create markets that fit the theory. On the other hand, for non-positivists such as myself, who argue that the economic theory of utility maximisation does not fit with our lived experience, economists seem to argue that we are deluded about the nature of our experience. Overall, the discipline starts to looks more like a religion than a system of knowledge.

  31. ZM
    July 15th, 2014 at 11:08 | #31

    Two problems I have heard about how economics is taught to undergraduates at even very good universities is that

    1)the maths equations (econometrics?) are taught in a rote learning fashion until the end of the course when the advanced calculus they’re based upon is introduced briefly,

    and 2) not enough is taught about the difference between pure maths models and the real world, and not enough attention is given to how to adjust models to specific real world conditions with a view to not causing danger, injury or harm – this is different from other applied maths eg. students learning how to design bridges must incorporate real world conditions into their design and also have a view to the safety of the infrastructure for people

  32. July 15th, 2014 at 12:53 | #32

    The problem is not the use or non-use of Maths. The problem is the failure to form consensus about basic principles like the role of public debt, the value of trade liberalization, the economic effects of migration, or even (FFS!) the relationship between the money supply and inflation. These theoretical basics are borked because the “discipline” as a whole has been captured by the economic interests whose behavior it purports to describe. This is why Reinhardt and rogoff were fated around the world for producing a result using a model that wouldn’t pass first year undergrad stats, with a basic error in a spreadsheet they refused to share. This is why so many economists couldn’t predict the GFC. This is why the stern review sank, sabotaged by debate about how much we should value the future (something economists can’t agree on, or suddenly are unable to agree on when the consequences of the idea might threaten the interests of the fossil fuel industry). This is why Richard tol was able to use a nonsensical damage function and erroneous data in a “meta analysis” that wouldn’t pass the first stage of a cochrane review, but which conveniently defended the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Every time economic theory runs up against the interests of the powerful, it either delivers flawed models that defend the status quo, or fails to reach any worthwhile conclusions due to hot dispute over basic principles. Compare that with any real discipline in academia, and ask why universities should divert money from underwater basket weaving to fund such a wayward and shallow exercise in self-exculpating rhetoric.

  33. Ernestine Gross
    July 15th, 2014 at 14:43 | #33

    @Val

    “I don’t think you can prevent non-economists from commenting on economics – we are allowed to speak about our perception of the discipline.”

    Non-economists are part of ‘the economy’. Therefore it is not only desirable but commonsensical that non-economists have an opinion and comment on economic matters as they observe them. However, I maintain a distinction should be drawn between observable economic matters and the content of the teaching of Economics at universities that do have Schools or Faculties of Economics (as distinct of those who offer a few subjects for commerce or business students).

    This distinction arises from the empirically verifiable observations that the institutional environment (legal framework) and policies within a given legal framework and the evolution of both are determined by politicians and their advisers, only some of them have degrees in economics – a decreasing number in some places.

    “I do perceive mainstream or free market economics as a discipline that is very different and that departs from what are generally accepted standards in knowledge formation.”

    In my entire working life I have not come across a “free market economics as a discipline”. However, I have met an accounting-law graduate, a public sector accountant, a PhD in English Literatue, a HR Professor, to name a few examples of ‘disciplines’, and numerous commentators on this blog-site and elsewhere who talk ‘free markets’. Furthermore, I have observed that policies adopted since the late 1970s or 1980s look like a return to 18th and 19th century “mainstream” economic thought. Prof Q’s book on Zombie Economics identifies and discusses major steps in this anachronistic development of policy; anachronistic relative to the development of mainstream (academic) economics.

    I would suggest, fn’s approach is a good example of how knowledge formation does not work. By fn’s logic, law should be scrapped from universities because crime persists. Accounting should be scrapped because creative accounting persists. Medicine should be scrapped because there are scandels involving medical practitioners, etc.

    If someone were to say that special interest groups have managed to find people who, on the basis of their qualifications, can call themselves economists, and the result is unacceptable, then I would agree.

    May I point to Prof Q’s thread on DDT to illustrate that the scientific method does not prevent similar outcomes in the world of experience.

  34. Jim
    July 15th, 2014 at 15:05 | #34

    J-D

    “Conceivably its graduates might suffer, their ability to compete with graduates of ‘top-rank’ institutions being reduced.” I’m not sure I agree.

    I’ve run graduate programs for a number of public and private organisations over the years (never academic roles). If anything, I’ve been less included to employ graduates from the ‘top tier’ universities as there is often a mismatch between the skills sets of their graduates and the needs of non-academic employers.

    A casual observation is that the ‘top tier’ universities place too much emphasis on math that is rarely used outside academia. Their graduates might be ready to undertake a PhD in the US, but most employers don’t care if a graduate can do mathematical proofs.

    What most employers are looking for are young professionals that can do something practical when posed with a real word problem, limited data, and not much time to find a solution. Can they apply economic concepts to issues like health, transport, the environment etc? Can they drive a spreadsheet? Have they already done some basic analysis of data from the ABS, ABARES etc? After all, that is what most graduates end up doing for a living.

    My advice to school leavers when considering a university has always been pretty simple. If you want to finish your studies at the 3rd or 4th year, don’t want to be an academic, and want to develop knowledge and skills that is more instantly appealing to most employers, you are probably better off going somewhere like UNE or La Trobe (and include some accounting, finance and science subjects as part of your training).

    If you are thinking about a career in academia or CSIRO, go somewhere like UQ or ANU.

    @J-D

  35. Tim Macknay
    July 15th, 2014 at 15:15 | #35

    @Faustusnotes

    There is no chance for example that a physicist would have to write a book dismissing zombie ideas in physics, as our host has had to do.

    Although…
    And also…

  36. Tim Macknay
    July 15th, 2014 at 15:17 | #36

    @Faustusnotes

    There is no chance for example that a physicist would have to write a book dismissing zombie ideas in physics, as our host has had to do.

    Well, apart from The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin, and Not Even Wrong by Peter Woit.

  37. July 15th, 2014 at 21:33 | #37

    @Ernestine Gross
    Well fair enough that “free market economics” isn’t a discipline – I guess I was referring to the “Chicago school” (?) which dominated the economics discipline in some times and places I believe. I have read Zombie Economics, plus several others including Steve Kean and a large introductory text for undergraduates by Hugh Stretton (who once was my lecturer in history, so I’m not sure if economics is his first discipline, but he is and was a voice of sanity).

    Some of the ideas which John Quiggin dismisses as zombie ideas may still be mainstream in some economics departments, aren’t they? Isn’t that the problem? There are controversies in every discipline and public health has them also, but I still feel economics – I don’t mean ‘the economy’ but economics as a system of knowledge, we see it in the public domain – seems to have an unusually unconstrained relationship with evidence. Which doesn’t mean all economists do, of course.

  38. Watkin Tench
    July 15th, 2014 at 23:06 | #38

    Faustusnotes:

    The central point of this post is not just wrong -it is the diametric opposite of the correct argument, which is that after 100 years economics has proven to be academically shallow, theoretically contradictory, and deeply corrupt, and institutions of higher learning should drop it.

    How does this sort of childish and ignorant nonsense further debate? Economics is no more (or less) corrupted by ideology and vested interests than any other social science. Ideas developed in economics have practical implications and they influence public policy. The Right understood the importance of economic ideas some time ago and that is why right wing economic think tanks were set up and generously funded by business interests a generation ago.

    The genius I quote above would oblierate the many centrist and progressive economic programs in our public universities and gift unchallenged influence to the Koch Brothers etc funded “free market” think tanks … Sigh.

  39. Ernestine Gross
    July 15th, 2014 at 23:22 | #39

    @Val

    The conversation has become easier. I may have appeared to be dismissive in my reply to fn. If so, it was out of desparation – where does one start when goal posts are moving?

    “Some of the ideas which John Quiggin dismisses as zombie ideas may still be mainstream in some economics departments, aren’t they?”

    I can’t possibly know what goes on in all economics departments. However, I can say I have never come across ‘the trickle down’ theory’ in mathematical economics or any journal article I ever read. But I know the Fama-Jensen efficient market theory was severely pulled to pieces by mathematical economists on methodological grounds as far back as the 1980s. These are two examples of the zombie ideas dismissed in Prof Q’s book. Using a broad brush, these zombie ideas were never part of mainstream economics but very influential in politics.

    “I don’t mean ‘the economy’ but economics as a system of knowledge, we see it in the public domain .”

    The economy, as we see it in the public domain, is to a large extent the outcome of political decisions and the reporting of these decisions [1]. At times, political decisions are influenced by economists (eg Chicago school). Milton Friedman is perhaps the most well known influential economist in this regard. Milton Friedman has recanted on many of his views before he died; the article may not as yet have reached Sinclair Davidson at the IPA.

    Economics, as a system of knowledge, is rather broad and it overlaps with natural science and philosophy. To provide one example, recently I learned about a research program where neuro-scientists investigate risk taking behaviour – an important subject in Economics and in practice (eg the GFC). I believe Prof Q’s point of this thread is that narrowing the subject range is not a good sign.

    [1] Natural disaster impact on people and hence ‘the economy’. Most of these are not under political control.

  40. July 16th, 2014 at 11:10 | #40

    @Ernestine Gross
    I think you are right that the recanting hasn’t reached the IPA, LNP et al – and that is probably what people like fn and myself are reacting against, in a sense. The use of ‘econospeak’ to justify the politics of increasing inequality and environmental destruction has probably given economics in general a bad name – but there still remain questions about the complicity of many economists and economics departments in this process, which I think is what fn is getting at when he accuses the whole discipline of being a mere tool for the ruling class, and so on. (Sorry fn if I’m misrepresenting you, trying to write a quick response before getting on with study, as usual).

    As a social historian, my particular grand theory is this:
    Broadly speaking there are two ways in which societies can work, egalitarian/cooperative (democratic ideal) or hierarchical/competitive (historical inheritance of last few thousand years and the way most formal organisations still work). In the 1960s-early 80s, there were significant gains for egalitarian/cooperative movements like feminism, post-colonialism, liberation, black pride etc movements, leading to formal societal responses in the 1980s such as anti-discimination legislation. Within this context the free market/neoliberal/Chicago school of economics etc movement is actually an attempt to restore the dominance of hierarchical/competitive approaches but under the guise of individualism and merit, rather than the historical forms of patriarchy and white supremacy (even though I would guess the key advocates for it are white ruling class males).

    That’s probably a bit too short hand to make sense to anyone but me at present, but if you care to comment I’d be interested in your (or anyone else’s) response to this.

  41. July 16th, 2014 at 11:13 | #41

    and of course Thomas Piketty is a key example that not all economists support increasing inequality/ruling class dominance – interested to know what fn thinks about Piketty?

  42. ZM
    July 16th, 2014 at 11:41 | #42

    I haven’t read Piketty, but Pr Ross Garnaut is participating in a talk on Piketty in August

    http://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/4237-a-public-conversation-on-the-piketty-phenomenon

  43. July 16th, 2014 at 12:14 | #43

    Tim, smolin’s book is about string theory, no? That is not a zombie theory. A zombie theory in physics would be the continuing presence of e.g. The ether in serious public discourse, and at least a minority of physicists supporting the theory. Ditto for e.g mainstream physicists rejecting or fundamentally misunderstanding QM.

    In economics we see this all the time. E.g Quiggin himself discussed and debated discounting extensively after the release of the stern review, because serious economists can’t agree on the principles underlying discounting. At Crooked Timber there was extensive discussion of heterodoxy vs. orthodoxy, and Quiggin himself refuses to debate modern monetary theory. The failure of economics as a discipline to come to terms with the basic properties of money, and the continuing insistence of mainstream economists that printing money is bad, is the economics equivalent of physicists refusing to accept relativity.

    The fact that macroeconomics still relies on shallow definitions of economic growth is another example of this. In health economicsextensive efforts have been made to find ways to quantify uncertainty in incremental cost effectiveness ratios, without any recognition of their fundamental mathematical silliness -even the guys who invented the idea have yet to come to terms with the impossibility of defining a confidence interval, or the fact that one value can have two diametrically opposed meanings. Where would physics be today if it hadn’t yet worked out robust basic measures for things like heat and movement, and couldn’t agree on the effects of heat flow? This is where economics stands at the moment.

    Ernestine’s response is indicaticve, too, of the problems in economics. He refuses to answer a single example I have made – presumably he thinks Reinhardt and rogoff’s incompetence and the way they were lauded by mainstream economics does not reflect on his profession? And the special way that bad economic ideas remain in mainstream social and political discourse is everyone’s fault but the economists? No need for reflection there, just refuse to even discuss MMT and tell anyone who thinks economics has shallow foundations that they need to go and get a degree. Imagine if global warming scientists responded to skeptics with such arrogance!

    And for the record, I didn’t recommend defunding economics, I just said it is not necessary for a uni to be taken seriously, so why not defund it if the alternative is losing a useful course, like basket weaving. And even here the response is telling – uniquely, it’s not the responsibility of the economics profession to become less corrupt and compromised, but of leftists to join the battle of ideas to “save” economics from well funded think tanks!

    Imagine if medicine had taken that approach after the thalidomide scandal…

  44. July 16th, 2014 at 12:22 | #44

    @ZM
    sounds interesting, I’ve booked to go. I’ve only read the first chapter of Piketty yet, but will have to read the rest now!
    thanks for that

  45. Tim Macknay
    July 16th, 2014 at 13:15 | #45

    @Faustusnotes

    Ernestine’s response is indicative, too, of the problems in economics. He refuses to answer a single example I have made – presumably he thinks Reinhardt and Rogoff’s incompetence and the way they were lauded by mainstream economics does not reflect on his profession?

    “He”?

    I’m surprised Val didn’t jump on that one. ;)

  46. Watkin Tench
    July 16th, 2014 at 13:56 | #46

    One wonders if there is any point in addressing Faustusnotes’ self-important onanism and deliberate misrepresentations of fact. I’ll simply make a couple of points:

    - economics is a social science and none of the social sciences have any any broad commonly accepted foundational knowledge. There is, for example, no unified theory of power in political science. Moreover, the idea that any such unified and commonly accepted theory would be a good thing is absoluetly horrifying.

    - contra FN’s nonsense, all the hard sciences shame themselves as they are periodically plagued by poor research, irrational biases, personal squabbles and the like. The last Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner was sacked, pilloried and ostrascized by figures like Linus Pauling before his work on quasicrystals was accepted. The ongoing debate in Paleo regarding Flores Man is often unedifying, to say the very least. Then of course there is outright fraud, . Piltdown Man etc…

    - The claim that RR was “lauded by mainstream economics” is an obvious falsehood, in fact many if not most economists were not persuaded and contra FN’s right-wing conspiracy nonsense, most surveys show economists are roughly evenly divided between left and right. This contrasts with its sister social science, sociology, which is almost a dead hand of left wing conformity.

    - What’s with the passive-aggressive attacks on John re MMT? John has told us what he thinks about MMT. If he choses not to revisit the issue on his blog every time an anonymous punter such as yourself turns up so be it.

  47. July 16th, 2014 at 15:30 | #47

    @Tim Macknay
    ha ha yeah I saw it, thought about a polite comment to the effect that Ernestine is usually a female name!

  48. July 16th, 2014 at 15:33 | #48

    @Watkin Tench
    Well I think if you were trying to appear even-handed, this was a mistake!

    This contrasts with its sister social science, sociology, which is almost a dead hand of left wing conformity.

    we on the left can have just as many arguments as anyone else you know! (but they’re better)

  49. J-D
    July 16th, 2014 at 21:29 | #49

    @Jim

    I’m not sure whether you think any of that in any way contradicts any suggestion I was making, which in turn makes me suspect that I have failed to make my point clear enough. I’ll try again.

    John Quiggin wrote: ‘The presence or absence of an economics program is one of the clearest signals of whether or not an institution aspires to be in the top rank.’

    Should every institution aspire to be in the top rank? Why?

  50. July 17th, 2014 at 09:47 | #50

    Sorry about the gender mistake, I was guessing the gender from a vague memory of a name in air wolf.

    Growth in a time of debt has been cited 889 times since 2010, including in text books, so don’t tell me it hasn’t been influential and hasn’t been feted. It was also cited by Paul Ryan, George Osborne and the euro economics commissioner, who has a decidedly economics-leaning PhD. Ryan also has a degree in economics… I guess commenters here will focus on the fact that Ryan is an idiot rather than on the 889 citations r&r received in just four years, primarily from economists, for a clearly flawed study that told everyone what they wanted to hear.

    Also casting economics as a social science is all well and good, but it is not the same as the study of human culture. It should at the very least have a commonly accepted set of principles and a common framework for understanding money! which is a slightly more coherent and definable physical quantity than “power”, and yet the discipline can’t agree on basic ideas about the foundations of modern financial and banking processes. When you cast this as impossible, you are setting an incredibly low bar for this discipline and opening the way for frauds and shonksters to pick sides in theoretical debate that enable them to say whatever suits their paymasters. Which is exactly what they do.

  51. Watkin Tench
    July 17th, 2014 at 16:59 | #51

    Faustusnotes provides us with more adolescent thought bubbles in support of his vacuous musings but notably fails to apologise to our esteemed host for his unnecessary insults.

    Economics is a social science and is almost universally considered thus. The market place is a social institution embedded in human culture and the only people apart from Faustusnotes who I’ve heard suggest otherwise are economically illiterate right wing trolls.

    Moving along, FN tells us with a withering sense of self-importance that a study that contained errors has been cited 889 times. Big deal. Happens in every discipline. Science is as prone to errors as any other human endeavour. What you dishonestly fail to tell us is that RR’s mistakes were picked up by other economists working in the mainstream. This disables your argument that economics is, in your words, “shambolic” and “propaganda for the rich” and less useful than “basket weaving”. Indeed, even if it did turn out to be the case that the economics profession incorrectly formed a consensus that very high levels of debt reduced long term growth, I’m not sure how this would necessarily advance the interests of the rich.

    Now to this:

    yet the discipline can’t agree on basic ideas about the foundations of modern financial and banking processes. When you cast this as impossible, you are setting an incredibly low bar for this discipline

    Since when has it been the job of science to become bogged down in the search for some consensus on basic foundations? Hell, biology has never even been able to agree on a universally workable definition of that foundational unit called “species”. Science has never been preoccupied with this and the idea that science should have such a reactionary and stultifyingly conformist culture is utterly frightening. One doesn’t have to be a student of Feyerbend to understand that science is, and must by its very nature, be decentralised, forward looking and anarchic. How could science have a paradigm shift, say from Newton’s constants to Einstein’s relativity if was as constipated and reactionary as Faustusnote’s neo-Stalinist adolescent fantasies.

  52. July 18th, 2014 at 10:13 | #52

    @Watkin Tench
    Fn may have used exaggeration and hyperbole in his arguments about economics, but that’s not a reason to make personally offensive remarks about him (pretty sure that’s right gender, after all the many and various discussions we’ve had!). It lowers the quality of debate.

    I think Fn has got a point in that the weakness of the theoretical foundations of economics does allow people to use it for ideological ends more than most other social sciences. The comparable ‘worse case’ would be psychology and epidemiology confusing cause and effect in the case of race/ethnicity and intelligence/health, but I think both disciplines have improved since those days. I think the reason for this maybe that economics does try too hard to be a “hard” science, and use maths – it doesn’t spend enough time clarifying basic concepts and theory before moving on to manipulating concepts mathematically.

    As I said to Ernestine, I’m a non-economist and I speak modestly enough I hope as such, but that’s my perception and I don’t think it has been fully addressed yet.

  53. July 18th, 2014 at 10:22 | #53

    Just for clarification – I think that was a bit too short hand – psychologists have in the past used statistical analysis purportedly to “prove” that black people were less intelligent than whites, and epidemiologists similarly purported to “prove” that black people were genetically weaker and less healthy than whites. The apparent relationship was actually a result of the poverty and hardship that black people suffered as a result of discrimination. However as I say those sort of mistakes are recognised in the disciplines now – there is general recognition that causation and logic (conceptual and theoretical thinking) are just as important as maths, and more “foundational”. I’m not sure that’s true of economics.

  54. sdfc
    July 18th, 2014 at 19:32 | #54

    Ernestine Gross :

    sdfc :How about economics departments offer units on how the monetary system actually works?That would be a step forward.

    In the 1970s at least one 1970s university did offer a unit you ask for (I know because I took it). At that time, it was much easier to offer a unit on how the monetary system “actually” works then what it would be now because at that time the institutional environment (pre the 1980s big bang deregulation) allowed a neat separation of the monetary system from finance, macroeconomics, various subject areas of microeconomics relevant for the internal operation of financial organisations.
    I’ve worked and studied at G8 and 1970s universities in Australia and I studied for some time at two EU universities. I fully concur with Prof Quiggin.

    Ernestine

    Unless things have changed since I did my degree undergrads are taught that the money supply is outside money, created by central banks. By far the major proportion of the money supply is inside money created by banks as a result of their lending decisions.

    Maybe you need to flesh that out your comment about Basel, you seem confused. Is that a comment on what constitutes money, M1, M2, M100?

  55. Watkin Tench
    July 19th, 2014 at 01:05 | #55

    Val, when an anonymous punter turns up on the blog of an internationally renowned economists and disses the whole field from a position of both ignorance and arrogance with some rabbit punches thrown in I’m not going to cut them any slack. There are no commonly agreed theoretical foundations to any social science nor should there be given the complex nature of the subject matter and the very limited research tools that are available. We can’t very well use “gold standard” scientific instruments like double blind experiments in macroeconomics, for instance.

    Your comments on the race/intelligence debate (which you mischaracterise and clearly do not follow) also inadvertently touch on why any talk of commonly agreed foundations is unfructuous; you’ve simply bought the left-liberal line that the debate is over when in fact it is very much alive. As Jim Flynn, a famous researcher on the left-liberal/environment side of the debate has argued, the left has largely decamped and quarantined the debate. This has been a tactical disaster, although thankfully moderate conservatives like Ron Unz have picked up the baton. But let’s respect our host and not derail this thread on a debate that is not at all suited to enlightened debate in blog comments.

  56. J-D
    July 19th, 2014 at 08:25 | #56

    @Watkin Tench

    Inability to conduct controlled laboratory-type experiments is not just a feature of much of social science but also of significant parts of natural science. You can’t construct a working model of a supernova or a tectonic fault in a laboratory, but this doesn’t invalidate astrophysics and seismology or downgrade them to ‘unscientific’.

  57. Julie Thomas
    July 19th, 2014 at 09:36 | #57

    Watkin Tench, I think that it is you who is mis-characterizing the fructuousness of the current commonly agreed foundations of the race/intelligence debate. The IQ debate is alive but not the race IQ debate. The IQ debate is alive because women are now understanding that the IQ construct is male-centric and is used to justify the hierarchical foundation of western conservatism.

    Back when you and the other whitefellas arrived here, you missed a lot of really important things about intelligence because you focused a ‘male gaze’ on the blackfellas. You profoundly mis-characterized the relationship between their culture and their intelligence and you profoundly ignored the role of the women in this relationship.

    And here you are in the Twentieth century again revealing the cultural blindness and arrogance that leads to such appallingly ignorant judgements.

    This is off topic but PQ is not an authoritarian and tolerates a lack of obedience in his commenters so I think that it would be okay and not derail the thread if you were to clarify some of the claims you have made about the fructuousness of the moderate conservative arguments.

    It seems to me that Bennelong must have been an amazing outlier if the average IQ as measured in the 1930’s is correct. Jensen quotes a figure of 60 in one of his papers that the HBD (that is Human BioDiversity) people still accept as valid data, AFAIK.

    One does not have to be very smart to see how problematic this so *not* scientific testing must have been, carried out back when everyone knew ‘they’ were stupid without any ‘testing’.

    But ……… Bennelong.

    This man, in a few months, learned to speak the English language and became sufficiently cognizant of the weird and irrational social rules of the Victorians to be able to participate in polite society?

    How do you explain that with their apparently superior intelligence the white men of the time did not learn to speak the primitive languages that, created by a people with an IQ of around 60, should have been so easy to learn for men of their calibre?

    I read your Ron Unz article. Ron says, “However, this strong relationship between wealth and nominal IQ seems to disappear when we examine East Asian populations.”

    But Ron does not mention the Korean workers in Japan and I have a reference that says “in Japan, Burakumin (a caste-like minority) and Koreans (an oppressed minority in Japan) have very low IQ scores and poor school performance relative to Japanese. The Burakumin have a 15 pt gap in IQ. However, it is said that when Burakumin immigrate to the US, in the second generation, the 15 pt difference evaporates and their children score even a bit higher than Japanese.”

    Do you think that maybe Ron – and you and your moderate conservatives, are just *not motivated* to look for anything more than facts that support your own judgements?

  58. July 19th, 2014 at 17:23 | #58

    Thanks Julie for engaging with WT (silent f?) on this issue. My interest in this discussion is about questioning the discipline of economics, and I’m a bit disappointed that this thread is falling down the page and will probably soon be non-active. Maybe our host might create other opportunities for such discussion again?

    I have for many years had serious doubts about economics and whether it is an intellectually honest discipline, though as I say I am trying to be respectful towards those who have spent many years studying it and know far more about it than I.

    I have been reflecting on this a bit, and I’ve realised that I’m maybe being unfair in that I’m comparing the complex understandings I gained through seven years studying history at tertiary level with the somewhat basic ideas I’ve got through general discussion of economics and some introductory reading at first year level. (I actually asked my supervisor – whose background is economic history- whether I should sit in on first year economics when I started my PhD, since economic inequality is a key issue in my thesis, and he didn’t think it necessary, but I have done some reading as discussed earlier). Anyway one can’t be a specialist in all disciplines, but we still have to evaluate and assess the worth of other disciplines at times, and I do have serious doubts about economics, which is why I would like some of the economists here to respond to my questions. I’m not sure what WT’s qualifications in economics are, but I’m not finding his (I presume) responses useful.

  59. Watkin Tench
    July 19th, 2014 at 18:36 | #59

    Val: “Thanks Julie for engaging with WT (silent f?) on this issue.”

    Obviously you’re not prepared to engag in a good faith discourse so this will be my last response to you. Your major contribution on this thread to date is to question whether economists use logic and understand causation while acknowledging that you know little about economics. If you want a better understanding of where economics is at, including the problems it faces in “knowing things”, Noah Smith’s blog is great starting point. Noah writes from a left of centre perspective and often has interesting discussions with left and right leaning economists.

    Cheerio.

  60. Watkin Tench
    July 19th, 2014 at 19:00 | #60

    JT,

    You incorrectly impute things to me based on your own set of stereotypes. I must say I do not share your fondness for stereotyping people.

    You refer to an IQ study on Burakumin immigrants referenced in Sternberg et al in the US that never actually happened, as even the more honest and diligent folk on the environment side of the debate will tell you. You follow this up by suggesting I’m not looking for evidence that refutes my prejudices. Pot, kettle?

    FTR, I think it is OK to argue that race is a biological reality but it is not OK to argue that the very slight differences that may exist between the races justify any form of discrimination. What I find repulsive is the dishonesty, anti-intellectualism and bullying that opinion leaders and gatekeepers on the left have employed in the name of combatting racism.

  61. Julie Thomas
    July 19th, 2014 at 19:37 | #61

    Thank you so much for setting me straight about the Burakumin immigrants. It is important to be accurate about these things and of course it is important for you to tell me how unfond of stereotyping you are. So kind of you. I will moderate my behaviour in future.

    And let me apologise for having the temerity to offer you free advice about how your mind might be working. I should have known you are the more appropriate one to be giving the advice and one who would neither a pot nor kettle be.

    Could you get over the irrational tendency you have to hyperbolise your emotional responses? For example, you say you find certain behaviour of the left “repulsive”? Surely not? This is quite an extreme emotion and would rule out any rationality, would it not?

    And then you could also try and use less hackneyed insults for ‘teh left’ and their (my? moi?) “repulsive… dishonesty… anti-intellectualism…bullying”? This sort of attitude is not conducive to a discussion in which people find some common ground on which to ‘combat racism’ which is what you say you want.

    It is good to know that although you believe there are racial differences between people, you don’t think people should discriminate on the basis of these differences. That is very rational of you I am sure. But you might notice that ordinary people are not rational and they think that if there are differences it must mean that some of us are ‘better’. But you don’t think that do you?

    And now I wish that I had stayed on topic because you are not at all interesting Watkins. Cheerio.

  62. Ikonoclast
    July 19th, 2014 at 20:36 | #62

    @Val

    Read Political Economy. (Bourgeois) Economics is what people develop they pretend that things like politics, power, race and class play no role in determining who gets what.

    The reading suggested to me was;

    Adam Smith – Wealth of Nations
    Karl Marx – Das Kapital (Vols 1 and 2 anyway)
    Thorstein Veblen – The Theory of the Leisure Class.
    J. M, Keynes – The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

    I have got through the first two so far.

  63. Ernestine Gross
    July 20th, 2014 at 09:14 | #63

    @sdfc

    The notions of “inside money” and “outside money” belong to a model of ‘money’ which is a version of the money multiplier model. (Mo, M1, M3…) The Basel accords concern a time series of regulatory measures of the banking system (eg restrictions on the portfolio weights of bank asset risk classes) to which individual national juristications can agree or not. Such regulations recognise that the ‘lending decisions’ (ie the creation of inside money) involve more or less ‘risk’ (which cannot be adequately recorded in a balance sheet).

  64. Ikonoclast
    July 20th, 2014 at 10:43 | #64

    Further to my post above to Val.

    Those suggestions are for someone who does not intend to become an economist but just wants a general autodidact education on the general area of political economy and economics. Someone who wants to become a properly educated economist should IMO study those authors and a hell of a lot more in depth plus of course a lot of relevant models and maths. They should know all major economic systems extant or proposed, real and ideal, and all the major academic approaches whether they agree with them or not. They should also study plenty of history and not just economic history.

    Narrow economic specialists have their place in research but not, I suggest, in public policy development.

    All of this is just my lay opinion of course.

  65. July 20th, 2014 at 12:01 | #65

    @Watkin Tench
    Just in case you should ever “engag in a good faith discourse” with me in future, let’s have a ground rule: if you don’t try to patronise me, I won’t make fun of you. Ok?

  66. J-D
    July 20th, 2014 at 18:39 | #66

    @Ikonoclast

    Both Thorstein Veblen and John Maynard Keynes held appointments in university economics departments.

  67. Watkin Tench
    July 20th, 2014 at 19:13 | #67

    J-D,

    On your point above I guess what I am getting at is that ther different sciences are arranged along a continuum with respect to how they can employ scientific tools to “know things”.

    Social sciences like economics, political science and sociology plot out at the very difficult end whilst at least some branches of the hard sciences are at the easier end. I suspect many of the questions raised in economics will never be answered with any certainty because there will never be a tool robust enough to do so, at least not in any timeframe that is meaningful to us.

    The other confounding factor is of course the suitcase of values and beliefs that social scientists unavoidably bring to their work and which can never be completely disentangled from it.

    Or at least that is my armchair assessment of things :)

Comments are closed.