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Harry R. Schwartz

Software engineer, nominal scientist, gentleman of the internet. Member, ←Hotline Webring→.


Math Ruins Everything

Published 12 Mar 2010. Tags: economics, math.

Julia just sent me one of Paul Krugman’s analyses of the causes of the financial meltdown: How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?

The whole article’s good, but I especially love this point:

… economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth… the central cause of the profession’s failure was the desire for an all-encompassing, intellectually elegant approach that also gave economists a chance to show off their mathematical prowess.

Pointedly ignoring the differences between a beautifully abstract model and the messy underlying reality that it (supposedly) represents? I’m sure glad that I’ve never been guilty of that intellectual sin.