Economics is no objective science, its a religion ridden with value-judgments

An interesting piece in today’s ET by Mark Buchanan, a physicist.

He questions the rising economic imperialism. He says much of policy economics is based on values held by economists. In a way it is a religion:

Is economics a science or a religion? Its practitioners like to think of it as akin to the former. The blind faith with which many do so suggests it has become too much like the latter, with potentially dire consequences for the real people the discipline is intended to help.

The idea of economics as religion harks back to at least 2001, when economistRobert Nelson published a book on the subject. Nelson argued that the policy advice economists draw from their theories is never “value-neutral” but foists their values, dressed up to look like objective science, onthe rest of us.

Take, for example, free trade. In judging its desirability, economists weigh projected costs and benefits, an approach that superficially seems objective. Yet economists decide what enters the analysis and what gets ignored. Such things as savings in wages or transport lend themselves easily to measurement in monetary terms, while others, such as the social disruption of a community, do not. The mathematical calculations give the analysis a scientific wrapping, even when the content is just an expression of values.

Similar biases influence policy considerations on everything from labour laws to climate change. As Nelson put it, “the priesthood of a modern secular religion of economic progress” has pushed a narrow vision of economic “efficiency,” wholly undeterred by a history of disastrous outcomes.

Nice bit..

 

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