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บทสรุปจากบทความเรื่อง “The Secret Sins of Economics”

 

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Deirdre Nansen McCloskey

Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication
University of Illinois at Chicago

Professor of Social Thought
Academia Vitae, Deventer, NL

Professor Extraordinary, Department of Economics, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

 

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What’s sinful about economics is not what the average anthropologist or historian or journalist thinks. From the outside the dismal science seems obviouslysinful, if irritatingly influential. But the obvious sins are not all that terrible; or, if terrible, they are committed anyway by everybody else. It is actually two particular, non- obvious, and unusual sins, two secret ones, that cripple the scientific enterprise-in economics and in a few other fields nowadays (like psychology and political science and medical science and population biology).

 

Yet a sympathetic critic who says these things and wishes that her own beloved economics would grow up and start focusing all its energies on doing proper science (the way physics or geology or anthropology or history or certain parts of literary criticism do it) finds herself sadly misunderstood. The commonplace and venial sins block scrutiny of the bizarre and mortal ones. Pity the poor sympathetic critic, construed regularly to be making this or that Idiot’s Critique: “Oh, I see. You’re one of those airy humanists who just can’t standto think of numbers or mathematics.” Or, “Oh, I see. When you say economics is ‘rhetorical’ you want economists to write more warmly.” I tell you it’s maddening. The sympathetic critic, herself an economist, even a Chicago-School econo- mist, slowly during twenty years of groping came to recognize the ubiquity of the Two Secret Sins of Economics (in the end they are one, deriving from pride, as all sins do). She has developed helpful suggestions for redeeming economics from sin. And yet no one-not the anthropologist or English professor or others from the outside certainly, but least of all the economist or medical scientist-grasps her point, or acts on it.

 

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