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In my experience, scientists often have a reflexive contempt for
economics. Speaking as a scientist who came to understand economics
after leaving academia, I find this attitude frustrating, because I
see how they miss the fundamentally bottom-up, emergent, evolving
nature of human society that the field of economics strives to
understand (even as they often acknowledge the bottom-up, emergent
nature of evolution and of ecosystems).
Don Boudreaux puts his finger on exactly what scientists are
missing by this attitude:
While there are some exceptions - Indur Goklany, for example
- of natural scientists who understand economics, far too many of
them see the world as posing physics or engineering problems rather
than as posing economic ones. The two problems are very
different from each other.
And the economic way of thinking - studying
economic history; pondering the role of entrepreneurship;
reflecting on creative destruction; being attuned to the fact that
so many social phenomena are the results of human action but not of
human design; understanding the fact that market-determined prices
both signal important information about resource
availabilities and give consumers and producers
incentives to change their actions in accordance with changes in
resource availabilities - gives economists a different perspective
from that of natural scientists on the range of
likely economic consequences of climate change.
One manifestation of this different perspective offered by
economics is that the prospect and possibilities of productive
human creativity seem to be more readily grasped by the typical
economist than by the typical natural scientist.
In the comments below Don's article, Econotarian quotes an essay
"A planned economy, which adjusts production
to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done
among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to
every man, woman, and child. "
But the article starts:
"we should be on our guard not to
overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question
of human problems"
Read the whole thing.