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Thorstein Veblen: Economics “is a `Science’ of Complaisant Interpretations, Apologies, and Projected Remedies” — Timothy Taylor

Summary:
I always enjoy reading Thorstein Veblen, partly because his writing strays back and forth across the line between "raising questions of real interest" to "just plain old dyspeptic and cantankerous." His 1918 essay "The Higher Learning In America:A Memorandum On the Conduct of Universities By Business Men" is full of comments from both categories, often closely overlapping. It's also the source of one of the liveliest insults to the field of economics, that economics is "a `science' of complaisant interpretations, apologies, and projected remedies." Veblen also argues that this isn't because economists and other academics have been paid off, but only because they have been selected and trained for their narrow intellectual horizons.... Compare Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a

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I always enjoy reading Thorstein Veblen, partly because his writing strays back and forth across the line between "raising questions of real interest" to "just plain old dyspeptic and cantankerous." His 1918 essay "The Higher Learning In America:A Memorandum On the Conduct of Universities By Business Men" is full of comments from both categories, often closely overlapping.
It's also the source of one of the liveliest insults to the field of economics, that economics is "a `science' of complaisant interpretations, apologies, and projected remedies." Veblen also argues that this isn't because economists and other academics have been paid off, but only because they have been selected and trained for their narrow intellectual horizons....
Compare Upton Sinclair:
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935); repr. University of California Press, 1994, p. 109.
Once an investment in education is built up providing access to academia, it is difficult to think in ways that challenge this investment.

Veblen noticed this of economists back in 1918 and called attention to it.

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Thorstein Veblen: Economics "is a `Science' of Complaisant Interpretations, Apologies, and Projected Remedies"
Timothy Taylor | Managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, based at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota

Mike Norman
Mike Norman is an economist and veteran trader whose career has spanned over 30 years on Wall Street. He is a former member and trader on the CME, NYMEX, COMEX and NYFE and he managed money for one of the largest hedge funds and ran a prop trading desk for Credit Suisse.

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