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Is economics a science aimed at deceiving people?

I recently heard in the news that Spain faces an imminent economic ruin, because statistically there are going to be lots of elderly people who are unproductive. This devastating message was announced by some highly educated economist.
Am I alone in thinking that a large pool of potential customers is an opportunity rather than a threat? In my view the senior citizens are a blessing to the economy. Younger people will find lots of employment in extending their loving care to them, particularly to those without a family. Elderly people need to be looked after by doctors, physiotherapists, entertainers, they will want to travel and to play etc etc and they have their retirement pensions to pay for all these things.
I believe that economists are either spun out as not to be able to think reasonably or that they disseminate false statements on purpose to further oppress the population at large. Judging by their looks, the latter is the case.
Another good example of how economists bend the reality to serve their cunning aims, is how they insist that at the time of mass unemployment, the retirement age should be ... extended! In other words economists propose that where there is a shortage of jobs, those jobs which could be made available, will not be available. Is that standing the world on its head or what?

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  • Jan 16 2013: Well yes it certainly is a science.

    It is the lack of insight into human behavior what makes economic models so far off these days. Some of the mechanisms that have been discovered and established over the past centuries are quite astonishing, but with the component of individual preferences remaining not fully uncovered yet, a model can never be entirely accurate.

    Economics deals with the allocation of scarce goods and once we know and apply individual preferences in models by means of recent developments such as Agent Based Modelling tools, it can become more precise in its predictions and serve society a whole lot better.

    Don't forget it's merely half a century since the first economist abandoned the concept of the homo economicus and started to embrace psychological insights. Once we make more progress in this field and put ABM models to use, economic policy becomes more rational in a world of irrational individuals, with all their biases, framing and other limitations. That includes myself of course.

    Scientists like Samuel Bowles or Daniel Kahnemann have done some great work in this field and it would be just wrong to disqualify their works as not being scientific. Austrian or Keynesian, is does not matter a great deal what you prefer, because the outcomes of the ideology can only be theorized. In fact I have been supportive for both theories sequentially, but truth is that there does not exist a rational individual in this world and only a model where this can be included can make a sound prediction for future policy. So lets not waste time over this by having discussions about that topic. You can Google it and read for days about this same discussion, perhaps among even more educated economists than ourselves.

    Now, let's move forward before a whole generation gets stuck in a life of indebtedness.
    • Jan 16 2013: "It is the lack of insight into human behavior what makes economic models so far off these days. Some of the mechanisms that have been discovered and established over the past centuries are quite astonishing, but with the component of individual preferences remaining not fully uncovered yet, a model can never be entirely accurate."

      This is true of all social sciences, the difference is psychologists and sociologists, no matter how flawed they are, at least try to improve as a whole: economists on the other hand seem to have a hard time criticizing traditions and accepting new research. It is no coincidence economists are so much more bitterly divided than psychologists and sociologists.
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      Jan 16 2013: Rene, did you mean half a decade or half a century since the first economist began to consider psychological/behavior insights to qualify or extend rational actor models? This was certainly part of higher level economics education in the 70s and Herbert Simon won a Nobel prize in the 60s, I believe, for his work on bounded rationality.

      The Samuel Bowles I have read published his best known work in the early or mid 70s.
      • Jan 16 2013: Thank you kindly for pointing that out Fritzie. It was my intention to refer to half a century ago and I'm confident we've read the works from the same Samuel Bowles.
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          Jan 16 2013: You can go back up and edit, Rene, so you don't accidentally confuse people with "half a decade." While there is much yet to learn in economics as a discipline to improve its practical use, people without a lot of background in the subject typically think economics is more backward than it is, I think.
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      Jan 16 2013: austrian economics treats human psychology as a terra incognita, which it pretty much was a few decades ago, but still manages to draw useful and meaningful conclusions. simply put, we do not need to know how the mind works in order to build a sound theory of economics.
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        Jan 18 2013: It is still terra incognita. The psychs would have you believe otherwise but that is just a charade, aimed at enslaving the slightly less than vigilant for financial gain. The results of the psychs speak for themselves, they have as much comprehension of terra incognita as I do where the salad fork goes.

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