Sam Seitz

It is a simple fact. Economists are the most arrogant of the social scientists, and there is research to prove it. From their hierarchical organization to their unwillingness to cite non-economic social science research, they are quite the elitist bunch. It certainly doesn’t help that they get paid more on average than psychologists, political scientists, and sociologists. And, of course, they use math. A lot of math. And apparently this is truly what makes theirs the most rigorous and developed of the social sciences. Ignoring the fact that these so-called experts drove the economy into the ground in 2008 or that fields like political science also rely on complex quantitative methods, I have never been able to understand why economists believe their field to be so much more developed. Heck, they can’t even agree on basic things like whether austerity is good or bad or whether the Phillips Curve is an accurate description of the interaction between inflation rates and unemployment. How can a field as rigorous and advanced as economics have such extreme ideological cleavages on such basic and policy-relevant questions? It truly boggles the mind. If economics is purely rigorous, disinterested mathematics, why are there so many ideological sects like the Neo-Keynesians or the Chicago School or the Austrian School? It sure seems like a lot of posturing and ideology for a “value-free” field.

Economics is a powerful and useful field, and I’m certainly not here to argue that it is irrelevant or should be ignored. In fact, good economics is vital. Ensuring the smooth running of the global economy is of paramount importance, and candidates like Trump and Sanders scare me partly because their understanding of economics is so warped. However, there is more to the world than economics, and there is more to economics than just mathematical models. Cultural identities, power distributions, and psychological biases all impact how markets operate, yet these variables are studied in poli sci and sociology: fields no self-respecting economist would ever deign to cite. The fact that Marx’s purely structuralist, economic reading of the world history and development turned out to be so disastrously wrong was in part because the stuff economists study DOES NOT CAPTURE ALL THAT MATTERS IN SOCIAL INTERACTIONS! So please, economists, I might just be a student of lowly political science, but I genuinely believe that my ilk has something to add to the conversation. Maybe try to lose the ego and realize that every field adds meaningful contributions to our understanding of the social realm. You economists may get paid more, but it doesn’t make you any smarter or more rigorous.