I have been reading a few articles for my economics capstone centered on econometrics as a discipline. What is the virtue in it? Are we properly identifying statistical versus substantive significance? Do the mathematical tools allow us to draw inference? Can we even call it a science?
I wish I was intelligent enough to fully understand many of these articles (they are written by Nobel Prize winners and other extremely intelligent people), but I still feel like it is (should be) irrelevant. But honesty, I do not care. As this most recent article, “Let’s Take the Con out of Econometrics” by Edward Leamer, so simply puts it, all fact is opinion. What we observe as truth is only aggregated belief in truth. Just think about it. We use to think the world was flat and that Earth was the center of the universe. That was fact. Now we know better. But what mind-boggling “truth” have we yet to discover about our “facts?”
This returns to a fundamental problem I have with society: we are scientizing EVERYTHING. We need to prove we know something, even though we know it. With econometrics and other research this means we engage in “randomized experiments” because we already strongly believe there is sufficient evidence for our theories but we are unwilling to act on them. Yet the greatest leaps in science, technology, and society have not come because we rigorously tested our hypothesis with deeply scrutinized statistical analyses.
Hell, we cannot even define what encompasses a rigorous statistical analysis any more than we can actually prove that anything is true. Proof is simply humanity’s attempt to create order in the chaos that is the natural order. It just seems pointless to me.
Then again, when I believe what is right and just is precisely what you believe is wrong and unjust, what other choice do we have?