Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Warning to Climate Skeptics

Much of the time, climate skeptics sound like the economists covered in this article (seen via EconLog):

“Until society realizes that the flawed, growth-oriented neoclassical lens it has been using to guide economic decisions distorts reality and is leading to an ecological disaster, I am not very optimistic about humanity’s long-term prospects,” he confides.

But after three decades of questioning whether the world can continue to support our consumption habits, Rees has had trouble convincing his colleagues in economics that their economic model needs an overhaul.


Despite her interest in feminist economics, Julie Nelson’s publication record is so impressive that she qualified for tenure at one of the top 30 US university economics departments. But she’s disheartened by the state of mainstream theory.


These accounts are symptoms of a pervasive system of thought control in economics. But no one knows more about how unwelcome ideas are kept from being expressed in economics departments and tainting the minds of curious students than Fred Lee, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has documented over a hundred cases where economists who wouldn’t drink the neoclassical Kool-Aid got pushed aside – a problem that began over a century ago when the working classes started to teach themselves Marxist theory.

The rhetorical style is starting to sounds familiar, doesn't it? I don't think we want to sound as nuts as they do.

Addendum: In the course of looking at other comments on the above, I saw a link to the following:

Old professors retired to new pursuits are replaced by new professors pursuing old ideas. The new recruits were carefully screened for their orthodoxy. They studied at leading departments, where they demonstrated their commitment to markets, economic growth, free trade and learned to respect the consumer as king. They were not exposed to other disciplines and they will never read an article published in the natural sciences.
Out of what bodily orifice is he pulling that last assertion?

On the contrary, there's evidence that economics programs might even prefer hard-science majors:

Preparing: Math. The most important thing in admissions is your math background (more than economics itself - I suspect most econ PhD programs would love physics and engineering majors).  You should definitely have multivariable calculus and linear algebra.  Statistics (that is, real statistics from the math department), real analysis and differential equations help too.  You're not really going to use all of it - though it really befuddles you at first, you'll eventually realize that a large part of the math in economics involves taking a derivative, setting it equal to zero and doing a bunch of algebra. Nonetheless, a strong math background - not just the classes, but good grades in them - is vitally important as a signaling device to convince programs that you'll be able to handle the rigors of the first year.
There's even an economics professor with a PhD in physics.


Blogger Akaky said...

You know, Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus, yes he did, and he also enjoyed watching counterfeiters getting hanged, drawn, and quartered as well. Proof positive, if you ask me, that higher mathematics are the product of a disordered imagination.

2:05 PM  

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