Econophysics

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the_stabbage
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Re: Econophysics

Postby the_stabbage » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:24 am UTC

So let me make a big list of concepts that people have misunderstood so far in this thread:

-Ideal
-Rational and rational agents
-Models and the uses for them

I wonder if anyone has made an economic model for the unproductive activity economists must do when the general population isn't educated about basic concepts such as the above. After all, maybe economists' wages would be higher if they didn't have to spend half their time splitting apart the many ways we use the word "ideal" and how you shouldn't use them in arguments by analogy.

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Re: Econophysics

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:11 pm UTC

And maybe people would be more receptive of economists' arguments if you got off your high horse and understood that being able to explain your field to an intelligent layperson is often just as important as understanding it yourself.
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Re: Econophysics

Postby The Reaper » Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:37 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:And maybe people would be more receptive of economists' arguments if you got off your high horse and understood that being able to explain your field to an intelligent layperson is often just as important as understanding it yourself.

Sometimes, I look at the other students that go on to get degrees in science and engineering, remember what their abilities are, and then wonder just how much of the actual populace actually knows anything about what their field is, much less any other field. -shrug-

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Re: Econophysics

Postby Dauric » Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:10 pm UTC

the_stabbage wrote:I wonder if anyone has made an economic model for the unproductive activity economists must do when the general population isn't educated about basic concepts such as the above. After all, maybe economists' wages would be higher if they didn't have to spend half their time splitting apart the many ways we use the word "ideal" and how you shouldn't use them in arguments by analogy.


gmalivuk wrote:And maybe people would be more receptive of economists' arguments if you got off your high horse and understood that being able to explain your field to an intelligent layperson is often just as important as understanding it yourself.



In a way both Stabbage and Gmal are both correct from their respective perspectives.

Prevailing educational curricula tends to be driven in large part by 'tradition', with most educators and administrators working on the idea of teaching students what they learned when they were in school. Up until say two decades ago this was... I wouldn't say fine, but acceptable as far as what people needed to know. The invention of the internet has vastly improved the public access to information, and access to misinformation, and access to information that the reader isn't educated enough to understand the context in which it's used. Unfortunately the inertia-based curricula just can't handle this new inflow of data sources, and our primary (and secondary) education sources are still trying to get a grip on this issue.

On the other hand most fields of study have become increasingly specialized with their own lexicon of jargon and usage of words that have different specific meanings than the word's use in a general context. At the turn of the 20'th century a 'Scientist' was likely to have studied dozens of different fields and many were all-around intellectuals. It was possible to have, if not mastery then at least proficiency, in all those areas of study. Modern sciences, including economics, are just too expansive for deep mastery of more than one or two fields by any one person. Consider that the people the Economist needs to clarify themselves and/or their field's jargon to may be someone who works in the fields of computer engineering or programming. On the topic of Economics I'd expect that Stephen Hawking could be excused for having a (probably above-average) layman's grasp of the nuances*.

*Note: I don't know how much Economics Mr. Hawking does know. Murphy's Law says just to blow my point out of the water he's probably better than anyone here, but that's not the point. He's got a head filled with the intricacies of black-holes, mind-boggling distances and durations, curvature of space, etc. etc. etc. that if he wasn't a wizard with economics it would be reasonable.

Precisely because of the depth of modern fields of study it becomes important for people in those fields to be able to clearly communicate the information discovered in their field (especially as it pertains to public policy for the good of a democratic society). Brian Greene is an excellent example of a theoretical physicist that can communicate his field of study in "plain english" terms. Now I'm not saying that every economist needs to be a Brian Greene of money, but rather that the field of Economics as a whole needs a Brian Greene (preferably a nonpartisan that understands and can explain the theories and evidence for and against both sides of any issue.. naw, I'm not asking for much at all </sarcasm>) that can explain economic theory in such a way that anyone who isn't versed in the intricacies of economics can understand what all the hullabaloo is about when politicians start yammering about free-markets-this and tax-subsidies-that.
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aleflamedyud
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Re: Econophysics

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:40 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:And maybe people would be more receptive of economists' arguments if you got off your high horse and understood that being able to explain your field to an intelligent layperson is often just as important as understanding it yourself.

Or better yet, the economists put down the sex toys and try some goddamn empiricism for once.
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Re: Econophysics

Postby Iceman » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:09 am UTC

Very hard to be empirical on something like Macro Economics, and even if you got an answer, it'd change shortly afterwards.

People do empirical studies of how things did in fact work out, but a lot more is usually gained by developing the more theoretical models.

The more common problem I think in Economics is the Layman always wants to interject concepts of fairness and morality where they don't belong.
People often understand the thing, then they refuse to accept it because it seems unfair.


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