Absolutes

From Policy Progress:

The giveaway words are ‘believe’ and ‘completely’. Very absolute words, those. Generally to be avoided unless you have solid evidence.

Very true, it reminds me of an old quote:

Only a Sith deals in absolutes

Of course, this quote makes sense, given my view that economists share similarities with the Jedi in terms of:

  • our inconsistency,
  • our inability to agree,
  • our unwillingness to commit to a firm opinion,
  • (and yet) our absolutism when we are forced to make an opinion,
  • our deep sense of thinking we are saving the world by describing trade-offs,
  • our (debatable) sense of moral/general superiority over other social sciences,
  • and our cool lightsabers.

Now this is not to say that anyone is the Sith [as I’ve said before I like Bernard Hickey, I can’t imagine him getting red eyes and running round with a lightsaber hunting down economists] – as after all, if there is anything Star Wars teaches us it is that no matter the moral standpoint, a desire to provide absolute answers and view things in black and white terms is what drives people to evil.  Not the tag they live under.

So if this post had to have a conclusion [it was obviously just a reason for me to compare economists to Jedis again], it would be to not get annoyed at the “two-handed” economist – as their response is more honest, and fundamentally probably more useful in the long-term, then the response of someone who is willing to be “one-handed”.  The world is uncertain, and the economic method is just trying to shine a light on this uncertainty – not make your choices for you.

  • Miguel Sanchez

    Also, Jedis tend not to stay two-handed for very long… 🙂

    Actually, if you combine “the Force” with “economics” you get something more like the Ferengi from Star Trek:

  • @Miguel Sanchez

    That is a little bit harsh on economists isn’t it – I thought those guys tended to be bad guys. From what I can tell economists are paragons of virtue 😉

  • Miguel Sanchez

    The Ferengi you mean? They’re not good or bad – they’re the voice of reason, insisting that transactions are made for money (and a commodity-backed money at that), in a universe that is otherwise, from what I can tell, some Californian hippie’s utopian dream where people will do everything freely “for the benefit of mankind”, or some silliness like that.

    But if you’re talking about one-handed Jedis – yes, they do have a tendency to join the dark side.

  • @Miguel Sanchez

    Just got the chance to watch the video – very very economist of them.

    People do things freely in this world – I’m a bit nervous about relying on people providing labour without a rationing device like a price to sort matters out. This universe must be highly inefficient.

    That or they’ve somehow solved scarcity.

  • ralph

    The root of all evil is so much love for money.

    dna freight /

    Demitry Temesov