Economy vs meteorology.
What is the metaphysical difference between the predictions of a meteorologist and those of an economist? A metaphysical analysis debunking economy as a hard science.
All speculation is not equal speculation. For example: There is a stark difference between the speculation done by the meteorologist, and that of the economic speculator. The difference is so crushing that each entails a metaphysical framework which is irreconcilable with the other.
The meteorologist is a scientist. Roughly put, scientists gather data about the world, and then pair this with certain laws of cause and effect (the laws of physics) in order to predict an outcome ahead of time. The blessing and curse of the meteorologist is that the weather will be what it will be regardless of her prediction. To put it more colloquially: The weather does not care about the meteorologist’s prediction. This is a blessing, because it means that her prediction speaks of something real and objective. And a curse, because it means that she can be wrong. Naturally, this entails the metaphysical frame of scientific realism, which simply states that some things exist independently of our thoughts about them.
Some economists claim to be scientists in the same regard as the meteorologist. Others claim that economy is more in line with sociology, or sometimes, even philosophy. It is bad enough that economy does not know what it is, given its immense authority and power to change people’s lives for the better and the worse. However, we know who is right, namely the latter view. Economy is not a hard science like meteorology, and here is why: Economies do care about economical speculation.
To illustrate this in a side-by-side example: If half of all the world’s meteorologists predicted a storm in Estonia in the coming week, would this increase the likelihood of a storm? No, of course not. The weather cares not about the speculations of the meteorologists. This is what it means to be metaphysically realist. Now, if half of all the world’s economists predicted a recession in Estonia in the coming week, would this increase the likelihood of a recession? Yes! Our attitudes and opinions of markets have an influence on them. This refutes realism with regards to economy, simply because our thoughts and attitudes may in fact cause a recession, i.e., an economic storm. Thus, economy is not a hard science, and should not be treated as such.
Moreover, whereas meteorologists get a bashing for not warning of the rain in the coming week, economists have nothing on the predictive precision of the meteorologist. There have been many recessions, but exactly zero of them have been predicted with accuracy. The only “correct” economic prediction regarding recession is: “At some point there will be a recession somewhere.” Yet, we let bankers run our fiscal lives due to their expertise. Would we give meteorologists the sky-high salaries of bankers if their best prediction was: “At some point it will rain somewhere”?
I echo this point made by Prof. of economics Yanis Varoufakis. This brief philosophical inquiry shows that at the very least economy as it is in practice by banks today is not a hard science. Hence, it does not merit the authority nor the credibility of actual hard sciences, like biology, medicine, physics, engineering, etc. All speculation is not equal speculation. And some speculation should not run humanity’s fiscal lives.
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