Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Manhattan Project For Economics?

Last December, Mike Brown, Stuart Kauffman, Zoe-Vonna Palmrose, and Lee Smolin discussed "Can Science Help Solve the Economic Crisis?" They suggest that what we need now is an economics Manhattan project. And by the way, neoclassical economics is not completely correct. (The Edge seems like an interesting place, whatever you think of this article.)

I vaguely know something about two of these authors. I read Stuart Kauffman's At Home in the Universe a number of years ago. I had previously read something about the Santa Fe Institute, including some of Brian Arthur's papers. But the idea of mathematical biology, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary work from computer science was new to me.

I have been struggling through Peter Woit's Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law for a month or so now. The algebra is tough going for me. Maybe I would have been better off with Lee Smolin's book on the same topic. And I have Smolin's paper "Time and Symmetry in Models of Economic Markets" to read. Barkley Rosser, Jr., suggests that Smolin should read some more economics, but it seems to me Smolin is quite modest about the potential of his work. I think Rosser and Smolin and his colleague approach some harmony in the comments in that thread.

Hat Tip: New York Times


Life Insurance Canada said...

If you want to read a good and relaxing book about Economics I advise you to read Freakonomics. It's a very interesting book and nicely written. It's not something an Economics teacher would want to read when researching for his paper but an easy and well written set of interesting facts that will amaze everyone.

Take care, Lorne

BruceMcF said...

More to the point, given the scope of the crisis, could we perhaps put the approaches to Economics that are not concerned with developing a social science of the material provisioning of society on the backburner for a while.

BenP said...

"The Trouble With Physics" is a good read for the non technical. But Smolin looks to be repeating the mistakes of the past with his venture into GEQ. When I read in his paper "The economic theory that appears to be most widely in use by experts.." alarm bells started ringing.

A good comment on his Wiki we might want to apply to other fields.

"Smolin suggests that string theory suffers from serious deficiencies, and has an unhealthy near-monopoly in the particle theory community. He called for a diversity of approaches to quantum gravity...".