Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Modus Ponens

Economic theory and economists tend to make arguments based on narrative causal connections based on some sort of "equilibrium" theory.  The REcapitulator thinks pundits like Jeremy Siegel are amusing when he opines that it is "more difficult to analyze" commodities than traditional asset classes like stocks and bonds.  If "more difficult to analyze" is a euphemism for "I don't have the proper tools to B.S. an answer", then I completely understand.

Modus Ponens (B follows A, A is present, therefore we have B) is a simple logical format, and, finding little fault with the basic logical structure of the argument, we instead find that Modus Ponens is misapplied to a system that is far too complex 
to simply collapse "N" (where "N" is a very large number) variables into "B follows A".

I am reminded of Ludwig Van Mises and his unending critique of this system of thought.  This quote sums it up nicely:

"there is no experience of future happenings…the experience to which the natural sciences owe all their success is the experience of the experiment in which individual elements of change can be observed in isolation. The facts amassed this way can be used for induction…No laboratory experiments can be performed with regard to human action. We are never in a position to observe the change in one element only, all other conditions of the event remaining unchanged”

The REcapitulator agrees.  Thinking participants alter the game, and 3rd order thinking ("What does he think I think he is thinking") is not observed amongst the natural sciences.

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