Thursday, August 06, 2020

Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen On Mathematical Methods In Economic Science

I have long been convinced that many mainstream economists, however they performed under hazing, do not understand mathematics.

"T. C. Koopmans, perhaps the greatest defender of the use of the mathematical tool in economics, countered the criticism of the exaggeration of mathematical symbolism by claiming that the critics have not come forward with specific complaints. The occasion was a symposium held in 1954 around a protest by David Novick. But, by an irony of fate, some twenty years later one of the most incriminating corpora delicti of empty mathematization got into print with the direct help of none other than Koopmans. R. J. Aumann had already published in Econometrica an article dealing with the problem of a market in which there are as many traders as the real numbers, that is, as many as all the points on a continuous line. In 1972, Koopmans presented to the National Academy of Sciences a paper by Donald Brown and Abraham Robinson for publication in its official periodical. The authors assumed that there are more traders even than the elements of the continuum. Now, since the authors of both these papers and Koopmans are well versed in mathematics, they must have known the result proved long ago by George Cantor, namely, that even an infinite space can accomodate at most a denumerable infinity of three-dimensional objects (as the traders must necessarily be)." -- Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1979) Methods in Economic Science. Journal of Economic Issues, XIII (2): 317-328.

I do not intend to get a Twitter account. Yesterday(?) some economist illustrated what they learn by tweeting a screenshot of a couple of pages from Mas-Colell, Whinston, and Green..

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