Sunday, September 12, 2010

Economist v. Historian

I found an interesting exchange in the Financial Times (London) about the role of economists vs. historians. I dissent from the argument to the extent that I see social science as frozen history. It may have some predictive value, but nature (including us) is always changing, sometimes imperceptively slowly, sometimes with obvious and dizzying speed. So economists can make models and test them against history (the past) and in the future. They are useful tools, but like all tools, limited by our own fallibility. History doesn't repeat itself (in any certain sense) and we can't predict the future (with a high degree of certainty in anything other than the trivial). We have to muddle through.

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