Links To Things I Apparently Read
July 18, 2012 2 Comments
- Foseti defines austerity. It’s about time someone did.
- Scott Sumner, Why the left and the right can never be defeated.
- Eric Falkenstein, How do the 1% Win in a Democracy? . Looking at this, I’m realizing I didn’t read it, but flagged it because I meant to read and figure it out later, probably because it has a graph in it.
- dissention, Why ‘Older’ Cultures Are More Dishonest; Understanding the Effectiveness of Asymmetrical Warfare. On the latter post: it occurs to me that when people tout the supposed effectiveness of ‘asymmetrical warfare’ (an overly-dignified/academicized umbrella term encompassing what used to be called guerilla warfare, and terrorism) they often seem to leave out, as a factor, the fact that in all the ‘successes’, one side is the ‘home team’ and the other isn’t. It’s not as if ‘asymmetrical warfare’ could be used to invade someone else…or if it were, we wouldn’t call it that.
- Piece I flagged mostly because it mentions both Breaking Bad and Louis CK and that’s a weird coincidence cuz hey, me too. Though not the part about ‘wanting’ both of them, that’s a perspective I…haven’t seen from too many females.
- Villanous Company, Economic Tipping Points and Top Down Solutions
- Deus Ex Macchiato, It’s all about the carry
- Division of Labour, Obama’s cramped vision of society
- Matthew Yglesias, Why Microfoundations?
But while reduction is something scientists inquire into, it’s never been the case that reduction is the sine qua non of useful scientific inquiry. [...] People who seem very bothered by the fact that the observed reality of nominal wage stickiness is not well-microfounded don’t appear to have the same difficulty relying on the observed reality of gravity. [...] The right answer is that productive inquiry can happen at many different levels of understanding and the appropriate test of a theory is whether it gives some kind of useful account of the thing it’s supposed to explain.
Valid points throughout on the general issue of reduction, but the problem is that an analogy between ‘macroeconomics’ and Newtonian gravity just doesn’t bear any real scrutiny. Macroeconomics seems so inevitably plagued by unjustified assumptions, confounding factors, ill-defined quantities; some might buy the idea that it is like building a purely macroscopic theory out of careful observation, but to others (like me) it’s just absurd. As a commenter says, ‘You cannot drop the economy out of the the Tower of Pisa and measure the rate at which it falls to Earth.’ If nothing else this inhibits the explanation and persuasion that is the real test of a true theory; for example you can watch me try to engage Scott Sumner in this comments thread, and instead of trying to explain and persuade me, he ends up (inevitably) saying something about “AD”, or asking what I’m saying about “AD”. This is because to him and Yglesias, “AD” is a real thing, like gravity, that you can speak about, that behaves in certain ways. The problem is that I’m not even sure it even exists in any well-defined way. There is no obvious equivalent of eppur si muove available to convince me otherwise (their only answer is that I need to have taken the right Macroeconomics
catechismcollege courses). To me there is a real and important difference between a ‘high-level’, ‘macroscopic’ yet still scientifically-valid theory, and a bunch of equations floating around in the air.