Re: people, places, things, and ideas

Robert S. Thau (
Fri, 8 Jan 1999 14:49:48 -0500 (EST)

Mike Masnick writes:
> Be interested in seeing the study, but I'd bet it could be explained by
> economics - which also goes well beyond cost minimization (as implied above
> - though, of course, econ, as a whole, goes well beyond minimizing
> cost/maximizing benefit).
> The thing about economics is that in the long run, pretty much anything can
> be *explained* by it. However, predicting with economics is a hell of a
> lot trickier, because there are very few people (if anyone) who can
> realistically factor in *all* the relevant variables. That's why
> predictive economics is pretty much a crapshoot of who's got the best model
> (determined conclusively only after the fact) - which is, afterall, just a
> model.

Economists claim that what they're doing is a science. However, what
you're saying here is that whatever they do fails to meet the basic
criterion of falsifiability. Yeah, just about any behavior can be
"explained" by constructing suitably twisted functions of whatever
numbers happen to be lying around, calling them "costs", and claiming
that the people concerned have acted to minimize them. And I'm sure
some economists do that. But what's the point?