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  1. #1
    Moderator alms's Avatar
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    What's science and is Economics one too? [split from the Trump thread]

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    No, they are not. On the contrary, anyone who thinks he can, cannot do math.
    The math of polls is not the same kind of math that governs the dance of planets in the sky, if that's what you mean. Psychology plays a huge role, and polls are literally fixed with kludges to align to actual results, because no other way has been found to account for them.

    I was reading the other day that the UK have or have had a similar phenomenon dubbed the Shy Tory, but in case of Trump I think the effect may be more pronounced.

    Anyway, I understand people not liking the idea of Trump winning, I still think preparing one's mind for the possibility, is going to lessen the shock, or make the sigh of relief even deeper and more pleasant later.

    Quote Originally Posted by mouton View Post
    That is also why economy is still more of an art than science.
    Actually parts of economics employ pretty advanced mathematics, complete with rigorously demonstrable chains of theorems; the idea that economics as a whole is not a science or shouldn't be taken seriously, is one that in general I think should be fought. Not saying that that's what you implied, just expanding the scope a little.

    The problem is not so much with economics itself, IMO, but rather that many economists are not simply academics, but rather are on a payroll serving an external agenda. They're not dependable as scientists, and would gladly twist data to fit the desired outcome and support their theory.

    Mind, edit: Galileo Galilei did it too, but he was right, kickstarted classical physics in the process and suffered some serious consequences at the hands of the Vatican, so he's a hero instead.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    The math of polls is not the same kind of math that governs the dance of planets in the sky, if that's what you mean. Psychology plays a huge role, and polls are literally fixed with kludges to align to actual results, because no other way has been found to account for them.

    I was reading the other day that the UK have or have had a similar phenomenon dubbed the Shy Tory, but in case of Trump I think the effect may be more pronounced.
    I'm sorry, do you have any basis for this theory whatsoever?

    Because I see Trump voters and they're pretty loud and proud, and I see Trump opponents, and they're pretty clear about it, and what I don't see is a bunch of people looking at their feet and mumbling, as it were.

    And this isn't poll numbers, this about VOTER numbers, about what is even possible.

    So you are saying either:

    A) Yes actually 70% of white people are going to vote for Trump. Just a bunch are going to pretend otherwise.*

    or

    B) Lots of black and Hispanic people secretly love Trump, despite his vile racism, and unlike all other Trump supporters, are silent and hidden about it, and will secretly vote for him.

    Which is it?

    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    Anyway, I understand people not liking the idea of Trump winning, I still think preparing one's mind for the possibility, is going to lessen the shock, or make the sigh of relief even deeper and more pleasant later.
    It really smacks of OMG GO VOTE AGAINST TRUMP! which is a great way to get people who aren't middle-class liberals to not vote at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    Actually parts of economics employ pretty advanced mathematics, complete with rigorously demonstrable chains of theorems; the idea that economics as a whole is not a science or shouldn't be taken seriously, is one that in general I think should be fought. Not saying that that's what you implied, just expanding the scope a little.
    It isn't a science, that's a hard fact, and it shouldn't be taken seriously unless the person is talking in the short term, is highly specific, and doesn't have an agenda that is obviously going to massively bias them (that on the other hand is my opinion). It's hilarious that you piss on polls, but try to boost economics, which has been proven wrong so many times it's not even slightly funny. I'm pretty sure polling makes more of a concerted effort to be scientific, as a whole.

    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    The problem is not so much with economics itself, IMO, but rather that many economists are not simply academics, but rather are on a payroll serving an external agenda. They're not dependable as scientists, and would gladly twist data to fit the desired outcome and support their theory.
    No, the problem absolutely is with economics as it is taught/explained/used is founded on all sorts of crappy a priori assumptions which are no way true and not even actually beneficial to understanding the real world. There are plenty of economists who reject these and pursue economics more as a science, but they're a small minority of the people we call "economists". Economists are not scientists not just because they can be bought (scientists can be bought), but because they are, factually, not doing science, because economics is not scientific nor does it broadly attempt to be.

    * = Honestly if this is actually going to happen, start the race riots now, I'm going to go race traitor and sign up with team non-white.

  3. #3
    Moderator alms's Avatar
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    Thread is being split - WIP - please wait

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    I'm sorry, do you have any basis for this theory whatsoever?
    You can find more about the Shy Tory factor here. Trump has changed how the game is played over in the US, so now there are larger areas of uncertainty than otherwise; based on other elections that I believe had some factors in common with this one, I have reached this opinion.

    Like everybody else, I don't have a crystal ball to see the future, and never claimed to have one.

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    Because I see Trump voters and they're pretty loud and proud, and I see Trump opponents, and they're pretty clear about it, and what I don't see is a bunch of people looking at their feet and mumbling, as it were.

    And this isn't poll numbers, this about VOTER numbers, about what is even possible.
    Well tell me if I've missed something terribly obvious there - the only way you can know what voters are thinking, is by asking them, i.e. polling. Is there any other way you can tell support for Trump in this and this community is low, on which your argument that he cannot win seems to rest?

    You're saying if the minorities vote close enough to the poll results, then Trump will have to capture 70% of the white votes. Or did I get any of that wrong?

    Because that would be a pretty big if. Some people won't respond to polls, so they're effectively black matter, invisible: the only way to predict their behavior is to use historical data. When they do, they can and will lie. They are more likely to do so, if you ask me, in those communities where there is or should be a strong stigma against Trump.

    The polls are adjusted for both these factors but... mostly by using historical data and some educated guesswork. Like I pointed out above, Trump is playing a different game from his predecessors, and thus making reliable adjustments is harder.

    I'm sure there's plenty of people who are screaming to their top of their lungs their voting intentions on either side. I wouldn't take all of their votes for granted, and I wouldn't assume they're somehow representative of everyone who isn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    It really smacks of OMG GO VOTE AGAINST TRUMP! which is a great way to get people who aren't middle-class liberals to not vote at all.
    That is not what I'm saying, I'm merely a spectator in this event, one that hopes Trump does not win. Not that I would ever think anybody could change their voting behavior based on what I say here, TBH.

    Anyway, the whole thread has long had an anti-Trump slant (check page 1); so, I would be inclined to think that whoever reads it, is someone who generally shares that sentiment, with a few who don't and consider it entertainment material.

    I am also of the persuasion that a strong belief that Trump cannot win is counterproductive. I believe people like him should be taken very seriously and never underestimated, and while Brexit may not be the best parallel, it is the most recent example that misguided assumptions can lead to surprisingly painful outcomes.

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    It isn't a science, that's a hard fact, and it shouldn't be taken seriously unless the person is talking in the short term, is highly specific, and doesn't have an agenda that is obviously going to massively bias them (that on the other hand is my opinion). It's hilarious that you piss on polls, but try to boost economics, which has been proven wrong so many times it's not even slightly funny. I'm pretty sure polling makes more of a concerted effort to be scientific, as a whole.
    And I'm glad you find it hilarious, however, even though not all of economics can be built on the same rigorous foundations that are possible in physics, the hard fact is that economics is considered a science; you are entitled to your own personal beliefs, of course. Also, I'm not "pissing on polls" and find your reaction curious, to say the least.

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    because they are, factually, not doing science, because economics is not scientific nor does it broadly attempt to be.
    Are you familiar with game theory? do you not consider it to be science?
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    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    the idea that economics as a whole is not a science or shouldn't be taken seriously, is one that in general I think should be fought.
    Of course, the other extreme is dumb. See also: Brexit approach to "experts". But they are quite fuzzy and only partially reliable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    And I'm glad you find it hilarious, however, even though not all of economics can be built on the same rigorous foundations that are possible in physics, the hard fact is that economics is considered a science; you are entitled to your own personal beliefs, of course. Also, I'm not "pissing on polls" and find your reaction curious, to say the least.
    There's a huge difference between something not being able to be built on the same foundations, and something choosing not to build on those foundations. Conventional economics chooses not to - it's no more a science than psychology is. I don't disagree that the math in some areas works out, especially when looking at relatively simple situations, or ones which are, dare I say it, obvious, but it isn't considered to be a science by the modern definition of the term - it is a social science. Which is to say, not a science in a meaningful sense, but rather quasi-scientific or having scientific elements.

    I also reject this "can't be" to a strong degree - economics could be far more scientific, and as I've said, there are economists out there trying to push it in precisely that direction. They're just in a minority. Particularly because they're strongly opposed by conventional economists, particularly those who derive benefit from providing economic forecasts, no matter how bullshit those forecasts are.

    In short - economics should be a science, but it chooses not to be. Forecasting should basically not exist - I'm hardly alone in thinking this, too - even among economists.

    Quote Originally Posted by alms View Post
    Are you familiar with game theory? do you not consider it to be science?
    Obviously it is not a science. It's a method of applied mathematics, one that's sometimes used to look at ideas far outside mathematics. Sometimes by scientists, sometimes not. It can be scientific or not depending on how it is used and what the inputs are and how they are derived and so on.

    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    Does he need 70% of white people? Or 70% of white people who vote?
    The first seems unlikely, the second seems possible.
    70% of white voters. Why does the latter seem more possible to you?
    Last edited by alms; 13-07-2016 at 12:11 AM. Reason: subject removed - split clean-up

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Hang on economics and game theory are science? That is quite funny. Though I'm really not sure economics can ever be a full science, much like history can't, be but it could be far more rigorous in the way it applies scientific tools much like history. Though not necessarily useful to do so, but sticking to a method would probably make it a bit less political.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    Obviously it is not a science. It's a method of applied mathematics, one that's sometimes used to look at ideas far outside mathematics. Sometimes by scientists, sometimes not. It can be scientific or not depending on how it is used and what the inputs are and how they are derived and so on.
    Your talking about physics here right? /s

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus karaquazian's Avatar
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    Game theory is applied mathematics
    Economics is a humanities subject (undepined with maths), not a science, nor a pseudo science like psychology, nor a load of horseshit pretending to be science like homeopathy.

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    Moderator Grizzly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    Hang on economics and game theory are science? That is quite funny. Though I'm really not sure economics can ever be a full science, much like history can't, be but it could be far more rigorous in the way it applies scientific tools much like history. Though not necessarily useful to do so, but sticking to a method would probably make it a bit less political.
    Actually, unlike history, you can test economic models (as they are applied mathmatics), and you can apply the emperical method with the math involved. The problem is mainly that it is hard to create a controlled enviroment in which to conduct tests, you basically have to wait for the issue to come to you (because testing your hypothesis on economic crashes on the economy of the US may be a bit... unethical) . Geology and meteorology have the same issues (they deal with BIG SCARY THINGS) yet are considered sciences by basically everybody. Nobody really understands what quantum mechanics are yet we still consider the people who work in that field to be scientists despite themselves admitting that they don't actually know what they are doing :-P

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus karaquazian's Avatar
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    The maths in economics fails. It gives you what should happen, not what will happen. Economics is about the decisions people make financially. People often make stupid decisions.

    It's no the same as applied mathematics in engineering or computing which you can largely test.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly View Post
    Actually, unlike history, you can test economic models (as they are applied mathmatics), and you can apply the emperical method with the math involved. The problem is mainly that it is hard to create a controlled enviroment in which to conduct tests, you basically have to wait for the issue to come to you (because testing your hypothesis on economic crashes on the economy of the US may be a bit... unethical) . Geology and meteorology have the same issues (they deal with BIG SCARY THINGS) yet are considered sciences by basically everybody. Nobody really understands what quantum mechanics are yet we still consider the people who work in that field to be scientists despite themselves admitting that they don't actually know what they are doing :-P
    Depends on how broad the term is, I'm thinking actual natural science versus social science.

    Economic models use applied mathematics, they are not applied mathematics. The only thing that really sits in that category are some bits of Computer Science (if you take all description of algorithms as applied mathematics). The problem lies in Popper's falsifiability, pretty much none of economics meets that standard (some other bits of stuff within science also fails it, usually in biology). There is no ability to control experiments, or control anything as the amount and variety of inputs into an economic system are so exponentially large it's insane, much like History.

    Geology and meteorology do maintain proper scientific methodology in terms of doing actual experiments. E.g. experiments into how clouds actually form, the action of pressure or temperature differentials. Which is proper science and leads to a statistical model as an output, it's ability to predict things isn't a scientific prediction in terms of method or Popper. Also you don't have to fundamentally understand a thing for it to be science either, so the quantum mechanics bit isn't so important. I mean nobody knew about gravity waves but measurements of gravitational force in the 17th century were still proper.

    You can probably build up some working parts that are more rigorous in economics as building blocks, but unlike the weather you'd have a hard time proving that the whole system is emergent from them. Which you basically can with weather.

    Economists, and other social scientists, and historians, all provide statistical methods. You can also end up with statistical methods in engineering, but again they're not science.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karaquazian View Post
    The maths in economics fails. It gives you what should happen, not what will happen. Economics is about the decisions people make financially. People often make stupid decisions.

    It's no the same as applied mathematics in engineering or computing which you can largely test.
    Uh. what?

    You can test Economic theories. Varis Yo123a,sda,123awasddkski, former financial minister of Greece, got to test his economic theories using valves virtual economy (which is easily the size of a small nation).

    This whole argument seems arbitrary and weird. I mean, wasn't physics considered a part of philosophy for a good long while? as if it were a "soft science" as you'se put it.

    it's just all very reminiscent of this xkcd joke: https://xkcd.com/435/

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    The diagram is missing a philosopher acting snottily to a mathematician.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelz View Post
    Uh. what?

    You can test Economic theories. Varis Yo123a,sda,123awasddkski, former financial minister of Greece, got to test his economic theories using valves virtual economy (which is easily the size of a small nation).

    This whole argument seems arbitrary and weird. I mean, wasn't physics considered a part of philosophy for a good long while? as if it were a "soft science" as you'se put it.

    it's just all very reminiscent of this xkcd joke: https://xkcd.com/435/
    It's only arbitrary and weird if you randomly treat all economics at one block. Which is super-dumb, frankly.

    Yanis Varifounakis (is this who you mean?) is not a mainstream economist. He has refuted a lot of the tenets of mainstream economics, and generally seems to pursuing a more scientific-style model for his economics. Trying to use him as an example of "an economist" as if he's typical is rather silly.

    Mainstream economics is pretty damn soft - as I've said and you've ignored, there are branches of it, minority ones, and economists, to be sure, who take a more scientific approach. But this involves rejecting a huge amount of what is "expected" of economists, like all sorts of longer-term forecasting and so on. Posting quasi-relevant XKCD cartoons is pretty much an admission that one doesn't actually have any rational argument in any case.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Wheelz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    It's only arbitrary and weird if you randomly treat all economics at one block. Which is super-dumb, frankly.
    But that's exactly what the discussion above amounted to!

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    Yanis Varifounakis (is this who you mean?) is not a mainstream economist. He has refuted a lot of the tenets of mainstream economics, and generally seems to pursuing a more scientific-style model for his economics. Trying to use him as an example of "an economist" as if he's typical is rather silly.
    But he is an economist. I never said he was typical. Just that there are avenues for testing theories that don't involve tanking the global economy.

    Quote Originally Posted by LexW View Post
    Mainstream economics is pretty damn soft - as I've said and you've ignored, there are branches of it, minority ones, and economists, to be sure, who take a more scientific approach. But this involves rejecting a huge amount of what is "expected" of economists, like all sorts of longer-term forecasting and so on. Posting quasi-relevant XKCD cartoons is pretty much an admission that one doesn't actually have any rational argument in any case.
    sigh. well that was a really underhanded, unexcellent thing to say. Nobody above has distinguished between micro and macro economics. Nobody's distinguished between economic policies and economic research. You don't get to just call bullshit on all of economics because alot of it sucks. Alot of published science sucks too. Fuck, you could say "main stream science is pretty unreliable." I mean, very, very, fucking little of what's considered "original research" is ever actually validated. But fuck it. It's from a study that's considered "hard science" so it must be empirically better than economics research then, right?

    Check your bias.

  16. #16
    Moderator alms's Avatar
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    note: Please, let's just leave any superiority complex at the door, and remember discussions are not battles to be won at all costs, nor other posters enemies to be taken apart, much less ridiculed.

    None of that is friendly or cool, which is what we strive for as a community.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gus_Smedstad View Post
    I think 538's analysis is worth citing. They currently estimate Trump has about a 22% chance of winning. Not zero, but not fortunately unlikely. They're fairly serious about trying to use realistic statistical models, though as usual polls have limited predictive power this far ahead of the election.
    Ha!, I was browsing 538 when your post came in, Nate Silver and his gang have a pretty solid reputation. 22.5% now, it's gone up slightly. Trump landslide 1.9%. I have no idea how they produced those numbers but they're fun to look at anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelz View Post
    it's just all very reminiscent of this xkcd joke: https://xkcd.com/435/
    Hadn't seen that one before, thank you.
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  17. #17
    Moderator alms's Avatar
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    note: Please, let's just leave any superiority complex at the door, and remember discussions are not battles to be won at all costs, nor other posters enemies to be taken apart, much less ridiculed.

    None of that is friendly or cool, which is what we strive for as a community.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gus_Smedstad View Post
    I think 538's analysis is worth citing. They currently estimate Trump has about a 22% chance of winning. Not zero, but not fortunately unlikely. They're fairly serious about trying to use realistic statistical models, though as usual polls have limited predictive power this far ahead of the election.
    Ha!, I was browsing 538 when your post came in, Nate Silver and his gang have a pretty solid reputation. 22.5% now, it's gone up slightly. Trump landslide 1.9%. I have no idea how they produced those numbers but they're fun to look at anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelz View Post
    it's just all very reminiscent of this xkcd joke: https://xkcd.com/435/
    Hadn't seen that one before, thank you.
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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus karaquazian's Avatar
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    I'm not saying economics is a bullshit subject.

    I'm saying its a humanities subject like history, anthropology & politics. because its about PEOPLE and the decisions people make. this also makes it incredibly unpredictable. yes it also involves maths, but so does medicine but you wouldn't call that applied math you'd call it a specialisation from biology (and chemistry)
    Last edited by alms; 13-07-2016 at 12:08 AM. Reason: split clean-up: subject removed

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    Moderator Grizzly's Avatar
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    this also makes it incredibly unpredictable.
    Actually, economics are depressingly predictable. The credit crunch was predicted way before it happened. The problem is more that there are quite a few people who benefited from the situation that led to the credit crunch (and indeed are benefitting now...) and as such there wasn't much of an impetus to change.

    (Not arguing with the overal point but, well, it's depressing!)

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Matt_W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karaquazian View Post
    I'm not saying economics is a bullshit subject.

    I'm saying its a humanities subject like history, anthropology & politics. because its about PEOPLE and the decisions people make. this also makes it incredibly unpredictable. yes it also involves maths, but so does medicine but you wouldn't call that applied math you'd call it a specialisation from biology (and chemistry)
    In the U.S. we divide the humanities (literature, art, philosophy, etc) from the social sciences (psychology, sociology, economics, political science.) The social sciences use some form of the scientific method to inform their scholarship; the pure humanities use some variety of critical analysis.

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