Pluralistic: The problem with economic models (03 Apr 2023)

Today’s links The problem with economic models: Ideology disguised as math. Hey look at this: Delights to delectate. This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018 Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading The problem with economic models (permalink) When students of statistics are introduced to creating and interpreting models, they are introduced to George Box’s maxim: All models are wrong, some are useful. It’s a call for humility and perspective, a reminder to superimpose the messy world on your clean lines. Even with this benediction, modeling is forever prone to the cardinal sin of insisting that complex reality can be reduced to “a perfectly spherical cow of uniform density on a frictionless plane.” Partially that’s down to human frailty, our shared inability to tell when we’re simplifying and when we’re oversimplifying. But complex mathematics are also a very powerful smokescreen: because so few of us are able to interpret mathematical models, much less interrogate their assumptions, models can be used as “empirical facewash,” in which bias and ideology are embedded in equations and declared to be neutral, because “math can’t be racist.” The problems with models have come into increasing focus, as machine learning models have increasingly been used to replace human judgment in areas from bail assessment to welfare eligibility to child protective services interventions: But even amidst this increasing critical interrogation of models in new domains, there is one domain where modeling is all but unquestioned: economics, specifically, macroeconomics, that is, the economics…Pluralistic: The problem with economic models (03 Apr 2023)

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