02 Apr 2011

Everyone, I’d Like to Introduce You to Murray Rothbard

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93 Responses to “Everyone, I’d Like to Introduce You to Murray Rothbard”

  1. David S. says:

    Did you have to show anything like an understanding of the scientific method at any point in college? I mean seriously, praxeology? It’s flat out kooky and you may as well just try to use something like crystal power analysis. If the world ever takes this perspective seriously, we’re doomed.

    • Richard Moss says:

      Perhaps you could enlighten us with a specific critique of praxeology?

      • David S. says:

        It’s anti-science.

        • Karen says:

          How so?

          • David S. says:

            It ignorantly rejects the scientific method as it applies to behavior.

        • Tom Woods says:

          I’d also be interested in your critique. “Kooky,” “anti-science,” etc., are cop outs. So you don’t think certain implications follow from the fact of human action? Or you think the law of diminishing marginal utility is something we have to run out and “test,” and that would be a scientific thing to do?

          • David S. says:

            I guess you’ve never heard of the matching law, which was discovered only 40+ years ago. It’s supported by hundreds of experiments.

            In fact, there’s more than a century of rigorous experimental data in the field of psychology and Mises was too ignorant to find it.

            Of course, there’s also an entire field known as experimental microeconomics.

            That you cling to an unscientific and frankly silly philosophy like praxeology speaks volumes about total lack of critical thinking skills. But then, it doesn’t take a genius to be an historian, does it? Especially one who’s never even held a university position.

            Keep writing popular books though.

        • Tom Woods says:

          Also, can you please demonstrate that you are familiar with Mises’ epistemological writings, and thus that a discussion with you wouldn’t be a complete waste of time, and one in which we’d have to give you a little seminar on the relevant material? After all, it’s not as if your category mistake in calling praxeology “anti-science” hasn’t been addressed at some length.

          • David S. says:

            To quote Mises from Human Action,

            “In contrast, in the sciences of human action there can be no controlled experiment, and hence a different method is needed. Praxeology starts from the fact of human action and uses logical deduction to arrive at a priori truths that are valid for all action, both in the past and future.”

            So, there’s a blatant rejection of the scientific method, presumably based on the total ignorance of the early controlled experiments in psychology. I guess he’d never heard of Pavlov, James, Helmholtz, Weber, Thorndike, and many others?


            “To quote Mises from Human Action,

            “In contrast, in the sciences of human action there can be no controlled experiment, and hence a different method is needed. Praxeology starts from the fact of human action and uses logical deduction to arrive at a priori truths that are valid for all action, both in the past and future.”

            So, there’s a blatant rejection of the scientific method, presumably based on the total ignorance of the early controlled experiments in psychology. I guess he’d never heard of Pavlov, James, Helmholtz, Weber, Thorndike, and many others?


            “The logical structure of the human mind is an unanalyzable given. One cannot “prove” logical relations because such aproof itself would rely on logic. The principles of causality (cause and effect) and teleology (i.e., understanding certain events by ascribing conscious motivations) are also necessary prerequisites for the mind to make sense of the world.”

            Silly. We have excellent models of conciousness, mood, emotions, motivation, etc., supported by mountains of experiments.

            More nonsense:

            “Often actors must choose between various outcomes that all consist of countable supplies of different goods. Even so, the
            fundamental act of choice always involves a purely ordinal value judgment, not a quantitative “measurement” of subjective value.”

            That cardinal utility exists is demonstrated by several decades of experimental research, including that of Pavlov, Skinner, Herrnstein, and many, many others.

            To continue with his embarrassing ideas,

            “The distinctive mark of economic cal-
            culation is that it is neither based upon nor
            related to anything which could be character-
            ized as measurement.”

            That’s self-evidently ridiculous.

            Should I go on?

            Especially in an age following Popper, who’s the only philosopher worth reading, as his is an anti-philosophy, there’s no excuse for succumbing to any philosophy, much less that put forth in ignorance of the body of research in the relevant fields.

          • David S. says:

            Then there’s Rothbard, with brilliant claims in Man, Economy, and State such as there’s no such thing as indifference, due in part to a rejection of cardinal utility.

            Well, the matching law demonstrates that if you provide equivalent rates of reinforcement in choice procedures, you get equal responding. This is true across stimulus classes and again, cardinal utility is demonstrated.

            Apparently, he didn’t even realize that classical utility models, in addition his own kooky formulation, are in conflict with experimentally supported melioration models. That is, richer rewards are often rejected in favor of matching.

          • bobmurphy says:

            Tom wrote:

            Also, can you please demonstrate that you are familiar with Mises’ epistemological writings, and thus that a discussion with you wouldn’t be a complete waste of time…

            Have you gotten your answer yet?

            • David S. says:

              Is that sarcasm?

  2. Bob Roddis says:

    Bob Wenzel was explaining this topic today:

    Mises’ student Nobel Prize laureate Friedrich Hayek wrote:

    …”data” from which the economic calculus starts are never for the whole society “given” to a single mind which could work out the implications and can never be so given.

    The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.

    The view that “more than a glimpse” of the economy can be grasped by a single individual, or single planning group, is a fallacy that has been held by Karl Marx, FDR, Fidel Castro, and now, apparently, Barney Frank.

    I’m waiting to hear the description of the repeated scientific statistical experiment disproving this self evident lack of knowledge in society. The same goes for the truism of acting man. The same goes for the truism that the same purchasing power cannot be in two places at the same time. The same goes for the truism that the loaning of funny money created out of thin air is theft of purchasing power from those holding the existing money. The same goes for the fact that value is subjective with each person.

    As I commented over at EPJ:

    We Austrians are going to have to come to grips with the fact that our opponents have never bothered and will never bother to familiarize themselves with even the basic concepts of the Austrian School, much less bother to understand those concepts. Other than a few GMU types, no non-Austrian has the faintest idea what the basis of our analysis is. No matter how many times we explain it. This observation is without exception. They will bend themselves into intellectual pretzels as they invent pathetic excuses why Austrian concepts they do not understand are nevertheless “crank” and “fringe” and which means that they have no duty to grapple with those ideas despite the award to Hayek of the Nobel Prize for those exact concepts.


    • Blackadder says:


      Consider the following line of reasoning:

      1. You cannot steal something from someone if it does not belong to them.

      2. The purchasing power of an item is the amount of goods or services that others would be willing to voluntarily exchange for that item.

      3. Since the purchasing power of an item is a function of the desires of other people, purchasing power itself cannot be owned.

      4. Therefore, one cannot steal purchasing power, either by “loaning funny money created out of thin air” or by any other means.

      I assume you disagree violently with this line of reasoning. I would be interested in hearing where you think it goes wrong.

    • David S. says:

      There’s a reason most people pay little or no attention to Austrian “economics”. It’s because there’s no demonstrable benefit.

      • Dan says:

        Yea, just ask Jim Rogers and Mar Faber. What did sound economic understanding ever get them?

        • David S. says:

          By your reasoning, Buffett and Soros should be listened to more, by far. Of course, there was no reasoning there.

          Investing and understanding macroeconomics are two different things. Do you think most Austrian adherents are wealthy?

    • David S. says:

      “I’m waiting to hear the description of the repeated scientific statistical experiment disproving this self evident lack of knowledge in society. The same goes for the truism of acting man. ”

      This tells me you don’t understand science. There’s no such thing as “prove” or “disprove”. There’s only some evidence consistent with a hypothesis or not. A lack of evidence doesn’t mean there is no evidence. It just mean there isn’t any within awareness. lol

  3. Bob Roddis says:

    While I’m on a role, I adapted my anti-Sumner comment to explain “The Quantitative Easing” to Krugman today:


  4. Blackadder says:

    Given the problems that have attended attempts to derive mathematics purely via logical deduction, the idea that you could derive economics in this way seems unlikely.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Come now, Blackadder, you’re being a bit saucy here. If an 8th grade teacher starts going over geometry, and explains how proofs work, are you going to bring up Godel and say that we need to use empirical testing in the class?

      • Blackadder says:


        I’ll cop to a bit of sauciness here. Just as mainstream economists often seem to think that it’s using lots of math that makes their work scientific, Austrians sometimes make claims about the purely deductive nature of their conclusions which strike me as being strained.

  5. Bob Roddis says:

    The Fed is a giant counterfeiter:


    The operation reality (to coin a phase) or “transmission mechanism” of central bank money dilution is to create ex nihilo funny money and pass it out extra-judicially and without due process to people who didn’t earn it allowing them to bid up and bid away goods and services from those who did earn their money. People have an expectation that the government isn’t going to purposefully dilute the value of their money and pass it out to others that didn’t earn it. If that isn’t theft, it’s embezzlement. I don’t see the big difference.

    Also, I’m still waiting for that statistical proof based upon repeated experimentation that it’s not embezzlement or theft.

    • Blackadder says:

      Bob Roddis,

      I’m not sure if this was meant as a response to my comment above (if so I would note that you haven’t said where you think my argument goes wrong), but I have a couple of comments.

      First, you cite Bob Murphy’s piece on the Fed as a counterfeiter. But as Murphy* himself has conceded, the Fed isn’t literally a counterfeiter, it’s just that when the Fed prints up a bunch of new dollars, this has the same effect (dilution of the purchasing power of pre-existing dollars) as if a counterfeiter had printed up an equal number of fake dollars and put them in circulation.

      Suppose that I buy a painting from an up and coming artist for a princely sum. The guy then paints a bunch more copies of the same painting and hands them out to his buddies, drastically reducing the resale value of my painting. Has the guy committed theft of my purchasing power? Certainly not. Nor does it matter that I had the expectation he wasn’t going to dilute the value of my painting by making a bunch of extra copies. I own my copy of the painting, but I don’t have the right to a set amount of purchasing power for the painting, because purchasing power is not the sort of thing that can be owned. Why can’t it be owned? Because, like reputation, purchasing power is a function of other people’s beliefs and desires, and you can’t own such things.

      But if purchasing power can’t be owned, then there can be no such thing as theft of purchasing power. Which means a fortiori, that printing money can’t be theft of purchasing power.

      If you think my argument is in error, kindly state what you believe to be it’s flaw. Or, if you want to concede that the Fed printing money doesn’t involve theft of purchasing power of pre-existing money, I’m fine with that too. 🙂

      *To avoid confusion between the two Bob’s, I will henceforth refer in this exchange to Bob Murphy as Murphy and Bob Roddis as Roddis.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        I suppose that the issue of the immorality of money dilution is separate from the effects of it. I’ll be happy just getting the masses to understand the effects. At present, they just don’t grasp it. Once they do, I doubt that they’ll think it’s ok.

        As the now rehabilitated young John Maynard Keynes insightfully observed in 1919:

        By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose.

        • David S. says:

          And yet there are at least millions in the world claiming to see exactly this. lol And inflation is the US is low. lol

          Sometimes it’s fun to play with religious zealots.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        This is why only gold and silver coin can be legal tender and why the Coinage Act of 1792 provided for the death penalty for government agents debasing the coin. Your painting example is not on point. Absent a guarantee from the artist, the buyer had no expectation that anyone would ever pay 3 cents for the first painting. However, gold and silver coins are and will be scarce. Someone with gold and silver on deposit in exchange for specie warehouse receipts has an expectation that the warehouseman is not going to give away the specie to someone holding a counterfeit receipt. Fiat money notes kinda sorta look like warehouse receipts. The effect of government funny money is to issue counterfeit receipts while insisting that the process of receipt counterfeiting is not really occurring.

        • Blackadder says:

          Absent a guarantee from the artist, the buyer had no expectation that anyone would ever pay 3 cents for the first painting.

          Presumably he does have such an expectation, else he would not have bought the painting to resell.

          Fiat money notes kinda sorta look like warehouse receipts.

          Not really. Rothbardians have to claim that they are the same, otherwise their whole case against FRB collapses. But it’s not really true.

    • David S. says:

      And yet, when the Fed announces QE, the macro effects seem to be instantaneous. lol Do you ever cite even the slightest evidence for any claims you make? The evidence speaks exactly against them.

  6. Jonathan M. F. Catalán says:

    There is a reason why Mises rejected the “scientific method” for the study of sociology and related fields (including economics) and instead argued in favor of something called methodological dualism in economics. If interested, I would read Hayek’s The Counter-Revolution of Science, which provides more background on what I am about to write (Hayek is not a strict praxeologist, so it might be enjoyable for you to read, as well).

    There was a push very early on by a variety of sociologists and pre-sociologists to radicalize sociology towards a more scientific approach. The Misesian/Hayekian approach to economics is a rejection of this “scientific” methodology, because it’s quickly realized that the method of the natural sciences just cannot be applied to the study of humans and relationships between humans, because the most basic unit (the individual) is not predictable.

    What Mises tried to answer is if there was a more accurate method of approaching economic theory, and he therefore developed the praxeological methodology. That it is not the “scientific method” is not an argument against praxeology. Why is the “scientific method” superior than praxelogy in the realm of sociology and economics?

    • Jonathan M. F. Catalán says:

      Sorry, he didn’t call for methodological dualism in economics. He called for methodological dualism in general. He didn’t reject the scientific method universally, which he claimed as proper for the natural sciences. His argument was that the study of different things may require different methodologies.

    • David S. says:

      Sorry, but I don’t subscribe to the Austrian holy books. Hayek was an economist 2 or more eras ago. He was wrong about a great many things, many of them Austrian. He certainly didn’t win a Nobel for anything particularly Austrian.

      It doesn’t matter why he rejected the scientific method or within what fields. He was simply ignorant and wrong. I guess because you’re unaware of and can’t imagine how science can be applied in the social sciences, is irrelevant. You obviously have little familiarity with the subject matter, and I’ll be surprised if you even know what the scientific method is.

      • Ziragt says:

        This illustrates the general problem with arguments between “hardcore” Austrians/heterodox and the mainstream.

        The Austrians say: No, you don’t understand. Let me now quote Hayek on the matter.

        The mainstream says: You are simply ignorant of the way us normals work, and giving me a quote from some dead guy does not change my mind.

        Of course, a more subtle Austrian might point out that many so-called Austrian insights eventually get formalized and rediscovered by the mainstream, at which point it becomes respectable and even cutting-edge (I’m thinking of ambiguity aversion here).

        • David S. says:

          I agree that it’s all circular reasoning from them and it’s all they’ve ever had. They can only use what they have.

          • Ziragt says:

            Actually, my point was that everyone should broaden their horizon.

            Austrians need to study up on maximum likelihood and DSGEs.

            The mainstream should read articles or books that are more than a year old.

            • David S. says:

              Tell me exactly what anyone gets by reading Austrian economics.

              • Ziragt says:

                Well, what does one get by reading economics in general?

                A lot of Austrian economics is a much better written version of what students should have gotten from their introductory economics course.

                This is like asking why one should read a philosopher: to see what they say.

              • David S. says:

                Well, real macroeconomics can help companies forecast demand, help investors make better decisions, etc. A kooky, anachronistic philosophy posing as a pseudoscience does more harm than good.

                Philosophy in general is useless and always a waste of time, unless one reads Popper, which is really anti-philosophy.

        • Jonathan M. F. Catalán says:

          Let’s b e clear. I didn’t quote Hayek. I suggested he read that book by Hayek, because Hayek goes through the history of the science of sociology and methodology. I thought he would enjoy Hayek more than Mises, given that Hayek was not really a praxeologist.

          • David S. says:

            While I”m at it, how about I learn something about medicine by reading Hippocrates or physics by reading Aristotle?

            • crossofcrimson says:

              Yes, because all ideas have an inherent expiration date. While we’re at it, we can dismiss their philosophical contributions for similar reasons.

            • Impairment says:

              Well, you could certainly abolish logics – it´s too old, 2400 years or so.
              The theorem of Pythagoras should then be junk as well.
              And how old is the technique of counting? Or adding? Or speaking? Or writing?

              • David S. says:

                You lack of ability to draw relevant distinctions is your problem.

                Usefulness should determine which models are used and there’s no unique usefulness in Austrian economics or praxeology.

                It doesn’t surprise me that those incapable of critical thinking fail to understand the scientific method or even to look into research into a field before assuming it doesn’t exist. This is the Austrian way.

              • crossofcrimson says:

                “Usefulness should determine which models are used”

                Then I guess you should get back to trying to offer criticisms more along these lines I’d think….

      • Jonathan M.F. Catalan says:

        He won the Nobel prize for his work on business cycle theory, which is “Austrian”.

        However, can you provide a real argument?

        • David S. says:

          Oh really? Show me your evidence, and again, specific papers.

          Einstein won for Brownian motion and the photoelectric effect, Kahneman for his papers on prospect theory, etc.

          All you do is make assumptions.

          • Jonathan M. F. Catalán says:

            Look at the Nobel website.

            • David S. says:

              lol Where is it on the website? You have no idea what he won it for. People who actually think this Austrian stuff makes sense don’t think rigorously, so often get hung out to dry like this. I suggest you actually learn what the scientific method is and realize it can be applied to anything and should be, where resources allow.

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    Isn’t it also accurate to say that Austrian analysis is based upon what is not known because it cannot be known? See the Hayek quote above. All we know for sure is that people act purposefully and not necessarily rationally. From this follows that the only effective information source to possibly measure dispersed subjective value is the pricing process. The non-Austrian rarely asserts that such things can indeed be known (except for Barney Frank). They just say, “OMG, you have axioms! You’re just a bunch of religious kooks who believe in the god Mises!”

    All I can say is that we get real cocky about what cannot be known. As in, ‘I’m real sure we don’t know that! And you don’t either.”

  8. Bob Roddis says:

    Bob Murphy already answered the theft and counterfeiting issues in today’s Mises.org article on Andolfatto:


  9. Bob Roddis says:

    He certainly didn’t win a Nobel for anything particularly Austrian.

    With great regret, I hereby pronounce David S. a know-nothing troll.

    Hayek Nobel Award Ceremony Speech
    Presentation Speech by Professor Erik Lundberg of the Royal Academy of Sciences

    Translation from the Swedish text

    Hayek’s contributions in the fields of economic theory are both deep-probing and original. His scholarly books and articles during the 1920s and 30s sparked off an extremely lively debate. It was in particular his theory of business cycles and his conception of the effects of monetary and credit policy which aroused attention. He attempted to penetrate more deeply into cyclical interrelations than was usual during that period by bringing considerations of capital and structural theory into the analysis. Perhaps in part because of this deepening of business-cycle analysis, Hayek was one of the few economists who were able to foresee the risk of a major economic crisis in the 1920s, his warnings in fact being uttered well before the great collapse occurred in the autumn of 1929.

    It is above all the analysis of the viability of different economic systems which is among Professor Hayek’s most important contributions to social science research. From the middle of the 1930s onwards, he devoted increasing attention to the problems of socialist central planning. In this area, as in all others to which Hayek has devoted research, he presented a detailed exposition of ideas and conceptions in this field. He evolved new approaches in his examination of fundamental difficulties in “socialist calculation” and investigated the possibilities of achieving effective results through decentralized “market socialism”. His guiding criterion in assessing the viability of different systems refers to the efficiency with which these systems utilize the knowledge and information spread among the great mass of individuals and enterprises. His conclusion is that it is only through a far-reaching decentralization in a market system with competition and free price formation that it is possible to achieve an efficient use of all this knowledge and information. Hayek shows how prices as such are the carriers of essential information on cost and demand conditions, how the price system is a mechanism for communication of knowledge and information, and how this system can mean an efficient use of highly decentralized resources of knowledge.


    • David S. says:

      “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1974 was awarded jointly to Gunnar Myrdal and Friedrich August von Hayek “for their pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and for their penetrating analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena”‘

      I guess you didn’t know which quote to use from that site. LOL


      Now, try actually reading about the work that was done that won them the prize. lol

      Hint: Gunnar Myrdal wasn’t Austrian.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        I don’t know how to respond to something so stupid. In his speech, Professor Lundberg expressly differentiated between the work of each man. No one ever said that Myrdal was an Austrian. He claimed that it was he who invented the plague of Keynesianism..

        It gets real depressing for me to announce that our opponents are dingbats and then this David S. guy has to show up to rub it in.

        • David S. says:

          lol So, the Nobel in Hayek’s case was a lifetime achievement award? You have no idea what he won it for. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be merely quoting a presentation speech. Which particular papers did he receive the prize for?

          Of course, I was also kind enough before not to point out that there’s almost nothing unique to Austrian “economics” in that long, mostly irrelevant quote above. Structure of capital? Well, that was nonsense anyway.

        • bobmurphy says:

          “I don’t know how to respond to something so stupid.” I would recommend not getting so worked up about it. I’m not sure at which point the eight of you are going to realize you aren’t having an honest give-and-take with a strong but fair critic here.

      • Jonathan M. F. Catalán says:


        Hayek’s work “in the theory of money and economic fluctuations” has to do with Austrian business cycle. Who do you think developed Austrian business cycle theory?

        • David S. says:

          Oh does it? Give me some specific papers. So far, you’ve been wrong about everything.

  10. Impairment says:

    “THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD”? Is there only one? As a chemist, the general adoption of the methods of the natural sciences should make me proud. But I cannot believe that they are generally applicable. Neither did Popper, by the way. In one of his later books he stated that the social sciences need a methodology of their own, something like “situational logics” which actually seemed to be very similar to Mises´ praxeology.
    Praxeology does of course include some circular reasoning – just like maths does. But would anyone dare to say that the theorem of Pythagoras is worthless because it is merely the result of circular reasoning?

    • David S. says:

      Yes, there is only one scientific method. The fact that you’re ignorant to and lack the ability to imagine ways the method can be applied to social science is irrelevant.

      • Karen says:

        Science =\= the scientific method. You keep stressing the scientific method as if it is necessary in every branch of knowledge.

        • David S. says:

          lol Yes, that’s exactly my point. It’s the only method. The only alternative is to use heuristics, when there aren’t the resources available to apply the scientific method. You certainly can’t build a decent theory on heuristics.

          • Impairment says:

            This is simply wrong. How did the first theory evolve? Not from reliable measurements – you cannot do these without a theory. But from your point of view there cannot be a theory without those. Therefore, your concept of science is not self-consistent. Actually, science as you see it cannot exist at all.

            • David S. says:

              lol Wow. Heuristics are often correct, but also often incorrect. If they weren’t correct more often than not, we wouldn’t exist.

              But, to pile heuristic upon heuristic is a recipe for failure. That’s exactly what unscientific approaches do and that’s why no PhD economist outside of the small, whacked out Austrian school pays any serious attention to it.

      • Richard Moss says:

        Does the Pythagorean Theorem tell us anything meaningful, or not?

        • David S. says:

          Of course, and it’s scientifically testable. lol Of course, Austrians don’t even do math, because they can’t find a mathematical justification for any of their unique claims.

          • Avram says:

            The pythagorean theory is not scientifically testable and never can be. It relies upon untestable conjectures and axioms like a = a and a != !a.

            Mathematics is founded on postulates, and deductions. It is the very opposite of logical positivism and induction that science rests on.

            What about imaginary numbers? You know that whole i * i = -1, i = sqrt( -1 ) thing . How would you test that using logical positivism and induction. What about quaternions? What about homogenous coordinates.

            You can’t.

            Yet I use these tools all the time when I say write transform shaders in the video games I create. Are you saying that what I’m doing isn’t real because it can’t be scientifically verified? Are you saying that “believing” in imaginary numbers is like believing in the tooth fairy, and that I’m just wasting my time?

            The scientific method is pragmatic, intelligent and a great way at solving some problems. There are many problems however it cannot solve and many others where it just leads you down the wrong track.

            I think you have proven yourself a fool quite enough David.

            • David S. says:

              No, you don’t even understand your own statements.

              It’s real simple. You can take the Pythagorean theorem and test it by making simple measurements. lol

              And apparently, you have no idea what the scientific method is. Build any useful, original models? lol

              • Avram says:

                Ok since you are a dim light in the starry sky, you can ignore the fact that you haven’t tested the axioms upon which the pythagorean theorem is based and say “you can test it by measuring triangles”.

                Even then that only works for up to three spatial dimensions. How would you test the thoerem in say five dimensions a^2 + b^2 + c^2 + d^2 + e^2 = f^2?

                You can’t. And you can’t test the axioms upon which the two and three dimensional pythagorean theorem are founded on either.

                I tried to illustrate this through imaginary numbers but you didn’t seem to take notice.

                I think this is because either a) you are truly a dimwit or
                b) you seem to think its a smart idea to have a methodology as a religion.

              • David S. says:

                No, what you fail to understand is that to the degree that mathematics is untestable is the degree to which it’s philosophy, rather than science. Hence, so far, M-Theory is not science.

                You can do calculations in as many dimensions as you like merely using strict deduction and induction, but that doesn’t make any of it correct, whatever the internal consistency.

                Again, you miss the meta here.

              • David S. says:

                I also point out that some 4+ dimensional models may in fact be testable

          • Avram says:

            Hey if you want to reply to me start a new thread somewhere I’ll see it. Half of what you wrote is cut off.

            Bob should get his IT guy to fix this…

  11. Impairment says:

    You are right: I lack the ability to imagine ways how to apply the methods of natural sciences to social sciences.
    You are wrong: It is relevant.
    In physics and chemistry you deal with the behaviour of matter: molecules, atoms, ions etc. But these are incredibly dumb. A nitrogen molecule in the air collides with other molecules/atoms approximately several billion times per second (1 bar, 298K). It never changes its behaviour. It never tries to avoid collisions. Why should it? That´s is the reason why you can derive something like the kinetic theory. There are lots of particles around. These do not change their behaviour, because they cannot act purposefully.
    But humans can learn, i. e. they may change their behaviour. They do act purposefully. Therefore, i doubt that the methods of natural sciences are applicable to social sciences. Social sciences deal with the behaviour of learning and acting human beings, not with dumb particles. But even if you could somehow apply the methods of natural sciences, wouldn´t the most important aspects of human interactions be ignored? Because you´d have to treat humans as incredibly dumb particles.

    Do not tell me that this aspect is irrelevant.

    • David S. says:

      Apply the matching law to experimental choice procedures in which direct brain stimulation is applied and you have a model that matches the data by correlations that are about as close to 1 as they get.

      See: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/xan/24/3/265/

      Apparently you’re completely unfamiliar with the field experimental mathematical psychology.

  12. brett says:

    Why is Mises right? Humans are not numbers. they are not automatons or chemicals. Why they choose and what they choose are not 1’s and 0’s that can be fed into some algorhythm or mathematical equation(of course nano-mathematical economics arose out of the desperate plight of politicians having to explain the fact that they were destroying their constituents purchasing power after raising their taxes to pay for jobs programs that increased unemployment. but i digres………..
    . People respond and act the way they do due to their environment, background, temperment, social status, religious beliefs…to say nothing of the umpteen million incentives government blasts into our everyday lives.

    • David S. says:

      Almost all of that is untrue.

      • Impairment says:

        All of what?

        • David S. says:

          Humans can be modeled mathematically.

  13. brett says:

    or should I say Mises AND Rothbard….

  14. David S. says:

    David S. at Avram
    No, what you fail to understand is that to the degree that mathematics is untestable is the degree to which it’s philosophy, rather than science. Hence, so far, M-Theory is not science.
    You can do calculations in as many dimensions as you like merely using strict deduction and induction, but that doesn’t make any of it correct, whatever the internal consistency.
    Again, you miss the meta here

    • Avram says:

      First of all you will scarce find a person who would agree with you that science is only those things found by by adhering to the scientific method alone. Most people take science to mean what it actually means “knowledge” and usually the other sciences are seperated from the physical sciences. In physical sciences the methodology of choice has been the scientific method where there are both empirical influences (to test hypothesis, these are the deciding factor) sprinkled with logic and deduction (to formulate hypothesis and to model results) as a guiding hand. Were it to be purely empirical and inductive people would just be looking at patterns in the world around them, and the amount of conjectures to test would be infinite, and very little knowledge extracted would be meaningful.

      The funny thing is when the royal society first formed the records indicate that most of their experiments were just corellating the price of gold with the weather and taking themselves 100% seriously while doing so. Thats what blind faifth in empericism gets you!

      Secondly if you say the degree to which maths is untestable is the degree to which maths is not science, then maths is not science *period*. As I tried to explain earlier the only way to test maths is against itself. By measuring you are using numbers, by performing the common operations you are using arithmetic, these are maths, and these things you cannot test, so unless you can think of a way to test measuring by measuring measurement, then you have to admit that maths starts from itself.

      I have to admit I chuckled when you said “strict deduction and induction” in regards to us mathematicians doing our “calculations” in n-dimensions. The thing is, you were confusing mathematical induction which is seperate from logical induction. In fact mathematical induction uses logical deduction! Whats more logical induction is empricisim! Quite funny I would say.

      Now, Aside from your evident lack of education in both mathematics and epistemology, your actual point was that my “calculations” in “as many dimensions as you like” weren’t correct.

      I can assure you they are correct. The only way to measure correctness in mathematics *is* by internal consistency and you will scarce find any mathematician who would disagree — because thats all maths is: useful logical constructs that are internally consistent. For example I use quaternions to efficiently represent the rotation of a vector in three dimensional space by an arbitrary angle and axis, while also avoiding gimbal locks and ths is guaranteed to be 100% true. Yet I can not test anything to do with a quaternion (even if we take maths as magically testable) because three parts of it are imaginary. But none of this makes the quaternion incorrect or me foolish for dabbling in the science of maths, or my use of quaternions meaningless. I do some pretty neat things with quaternions and have gained very meaningful knowledge (a.k.a science) from knowing of the quaternion, the operators on the quaternion and the system of quaternions.

      Look around you, see the computer? Well that only exists because of human understanding of maths, and man’s ability to use deductive reasoning. (Oh cool another example: how would we test base-2 is correct? do we test it against base-3 or base-47? but how are those correct? do we go around measuring base-2 to see if its correct? in what base do we measure base-2? base-10? but how do we know if base-10? is correct I know lets measure it in base-3!… I think I’ve proved this point a million times by now).

      To conclude maths is not measurable and so aren’t a lot of things like say language. Mathematics is only justified by its own internal consistency and adds much to human knowledge. The reasoning employed in maths is strictly deductive and axiomatic and there is nothing about this that makes it any less a science or meaningful or correct. You are an utter fool for treating just one methodology as a religion and rejecting all others. Also I hope to god that you are young, and that this religion of yours is not popular amongst your peers, because it is very sad to see how the public “education” system has destroyed many many young minds. The end.

      • David S. says:

        First, you have no idea how many adhere to my definition of science, and it’s irrelevant anyway. Science is a method and nothing more. Science does not allow for anything like a fixed knowledge base. You just don’t know what science is. Keep appealing to authority though. That may have helped you on pre-Aristotelian playgrounds.

        Your pathetic attempt at describing the process by which the method has been applied in the physical sciences speaks volumes about your ignorance, which is made all the worse by your apparent failure to even understand that deduction is also involved. And by the way, anyone who appeals to epistemology immediately reveals himself a fool.

        It doesn’t get better for you when you clumsily throw around words like “usually” when referring to the method as applied to the so-called physical sciences. I assure you there’s been experimental social science going on for going on at least a century and a half, not that someone of your stature would have noticed.

        Then you mention an irrelevant aside about a spurious correlation between weather and gold and refer to it as empiricism. That latter is apparently another word you don’t know the meaning of.

        And I never said math was a science. I only say that the scientific method can be applied to mathematics and models either survive, fail, or are untestable. If math had no predictive power, meaning it weren’t ultimately testable, directly or indirectly, no one would care about it.

        The use of complex numbers or multi-dimensions is irrelevant if it doesn’t lead ultimately to testable models. But, considering you still don’t understand even the subject of this conversation, I suppose I shouldn’t expect you to focus merely on the relevant.

        If no one took items as discretely equivalent and began counting them, would there be any mathematics at all? Of course, it’s testable at even its most fundamental levels, if we allow for a bit of abstract fudging, as no two items are the same. In that case, 1 apple + 1 apple = 2 apples.

        We can have 4+ dimensional math, in which we can never test its internal consistency, but can nonetheless test whether it predicts anything real. In cases where it isn’t true, should they exist, we’re talking about pure abstraction in the form of transitive associations(referring to learning theory).

        And I see you assume I don’t know the difference between evidence in science and proofs in mathematics. This is typical of one who apparently is capable of little else but assumptions, which will often render your opinions less dependable than those of the nearest dog, which at least doesn’t have the capability of suffering being lost in such a thicket of weeds and vines of pure transitive associations. The dog usually finds its way home.

        The computer only exists because of an understanding of maths? lol Yeah, no empirical physics, engineering, or chemistry went into it at all. lol Arithmetic didn’t have to develop to deal with measurements that preceded it, as mentioned above. People just had formulas come into their heads, expanded on them with pure mathematics, and it all came to be. lol You are an Austrian, right? lol

        Then you conclude with more of the same claptrap as above, but then thrown language in as another unmeasurable. lol You’re dead wrong here too, not surprisingly. Of course language is measureable! lol

        You’re either not a mathematician or are a very poor one. If it’s the latter, any school that offered you a degree should lose all accreditation. I’m just guessing you’ve never come up with an original model of a natural system.

        • Ziragt says:

          It’s interesting to point out that using your criteria,almost all social science is not science.

          Most economics is based on untestable theories.

          Much of what is testable, a small subset of econometric research, does quite poorly in terms of prediction. Out of sample accuracy is notoriously low. Yet these models persist.

          Even the experimental economics that you mention is not well verified outside of the lab (a similar requirement to out of sample prediction).

          So, would you accept that economics is not science?

          • David S. says:

            Which specific testable econometric models do poorly?

            That a model be testable doesn’t have to mean it can be tested in a lab. Statistical tests can do the trick, just not nearly as quickly or easily in many cases.

            I ask you in return, is cosmology a science? How about meteorology? Fluid dynamics in general? Nonlinear orbital dynamics? How about plate tectonics? You can’t perform macro experiments in those fields either.

            The fact is, you can take cosmology or meteorology in which the science on the micro level is much better understood than at the macro level. Economics is no different. We’re just catching up on how well we understand the micro theory.

            I can tell you that if you take the matching law, temporal difference equations, etc., you can make very precise predictions in the lab and we’re piecing models like synthesizing models like this into an overall model of behavior.

            • Ziragt says:

              Could you link to a paper on what you are talking about? It doesn’t matter if it’s gated or not.

              That would be more useful than general statements about experimental work, especially since it sounds like you have specific work in mind.

            • Ziragt says:

              Sorry for double posting. In terms of which models failed, take a look at the housing bubble. There were a number of hedonic pricing models that claimed housing was reasonably priced.

              For example, take a look at Case and Shiller (2003).

              Also, most models do not even aim for predictive accuracy. There are no predictions in Lavetti (2010). There are tests of significance, but this is not the same as out of sample accuracy.

        • Avram says:

          David, the only way we are able to count and measure is because we understand the concept of a number, which we *do* form in our heads, (magicaly if you must think so) and numbers don’t exist otherwise.

          I’ve never seen a number. I’ve seen strokes on paper that represent a number but I’ve never touched a number or heard a number or smelled a number. Nor would it be possible for me to do so. But this doesn’t mean that numbers are meaningless or that they don’t exist.

          • David S. says:

            More irrelevancy.

            Mathematics can never be untethered from reality. If the constraints of the structure of the universe, static or changing, were not operating on it, there’d be no structure to mathematics at all, and hence no math. Math can never escape being testable in this broadest sense.

            As for numbers having meaning, it all depends on the utility.

            • Avram says:

              Yes you are correct, it cannot be untethered from reality because it is part of reality. More exactly it can not be untethered from the sentient mind cause thats the only place mathematics exists, it is something people just make up, yet it is real and gives us real knowledge about ,well, maths itself.

              And no that does *not* make maths testable by the scientific method. The only thing that can “test” maths is our heads and only by using deductive reasoning — because thats what maths is.

              When our understanding of physics changed from aristotelean to newtonian the maths we used to describe it stayed the same. Numbers still did the same things. When our understanding of physics moved to special relativity, matematics, yet again, still stayed the same.

              No observation can falsify maths and no observation can confirm maths because it doesn’t rely on observations. It relies on internal arguments of reasoning and logic, and only these can prove / disprove mathematical theorems.

              To repeat the mathematical method is axiomatic and deductive and observation is completely and utterly meaningless to maths. It relies on one thing and one thing only: internal consistency of logic.

              And I’m pretty sure numbers wouldn’t be any less real or any less meaningful even if everyone were too dumb to find a use for them.’

              Unless of course your argument is that mathematics is just idiocy because it doesn’t use your favorite religi.. I mean methodology.

              • David S. says:

                “When our understanding of physics changed from aristotelean to newtonian the maths we used to describe it stayed the same. Numbers still did the same things. When our understanding of physics moved to special relativity, matematics, yet again, still stayed the same.”

                Uh, ever hear of calculus and differential geometry, respectively? If you’re speaking of math being unchanged on a more fundamental level, little could be more obvious, so I have no idea what you even bothered.

                We’re not going to agree on this. I don’t think you understand the scientific method nor even mathematics in any deep meta sense. Anything that isn’t subject to external consistency testing is imagination at best.

              • David K. says:

                David S.:
                “Anything that isn’t subject to external consistency testing is imagination at best.”

                How can you apply “external consistency testing” to this proposition? It certainly cannot be tested (verified or falsified) empirically.

              • Avram says:

                No no no there is nothing to agree on, David, because the matter is settlred.

                What there is, is something you must learn, but you are having a hard time doing so:

                a) That there is more than one method of gaining new knowledge

                b) That mathematics uses a deductive and axiomatic approach as the only means of discovering and verifying new theorems, very different from the physical sciences.

                These two are facts, no matter how much your religion causes you to deny them.

                And saying thngs like “no, math is only useful insofar as its observable” means that maths is useless, because maths is NEVER EVER EVER observable.

                You could take that position, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you did but be well aware of what you’re doing.

              • David S. says:

                Pure ignorance and a total lack of deep or original thinking.

                And there are no such things as “facts”. lol

                Tell you what, let me know if you ever do any original work in any discipline, okay? I’ve done plenty. lmao You’re just a cockroach.

              • Avram says:

                Yes, yes everyone else is a moron and you are a genius, I am happy for you.

                But this doesn’t mean that the scientific method is the be all and end all of gaining knowledge, and it definitely is not used in mathematics.

                And there are such things as facts. For example the sentence above this one consists of the string “And there are such things as facts”.