Holy Christ, Austrians

So Mark Crovelli at Mises.org, whoever he is, has a post that I am still having trouble believing.

Essentially, he argues that economists don’t need the scientific method–that pesky process of checking your conclusions against the real world—as long as they’re smart enough to understand how things really work.

Now: Mises.org is an organ of Austrian economics, Austrians believe in free markets no matter what, and the only way to believe that is to ignore what actually happens in the real world and focus instead on how you think the economy should work. So Mr. Crovelli is not alone among Austrians in rejecting the scientific method, and Austrians are not alone among economists–far too much of economics starts with assumptions, builds logically on them, and then comes to conclusions that may or may not apply in the real world.

And yes, it can be hard to check things in the infinite complexity of the real world. But economists who don’t understand the need to check wind up pushing the same old policies no matter how much they keep failing. Policies like financial deregulation, low taxes on the rich, and so on. (Or for that matter, Marxism, which always claimed to be “scientific” when it actually did the same things Austrians do: it took a few principles, extrapolated from them, and ignored when its prescriptions turned out to be wrong.)

It’s not news that Austrian economists reject empiricism (again, they have to, or they wouldn’t believe in Austrian economics). Still, it’s startling to see someone a) clearly understand what science is, b) reject it, and then c) brag about rejecting it.

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