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Pixies and economic theory

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From Ken Zimmerman (originally a comment) When I was 12 and my sister 5 she was convinced that pixies lived in our backyard and protected our house from the coyotes, raccoons, and bobcats that were a problem for city neighborhoods all over Texas due to the drought.  I tried to convince her otherwise but couldn’t.  I agreed to go with her every night before her bedtime to search for the pixies. Never found them and by the time my sister began the new school year she had forgotten about pixies. This is my way of saying human life and knowledge begins and moves on through experience. Despite her detailed description of the pixies she  and I could not experience them. Pixies, like economic theories can be beautiful and fascinating when those who believe in the tell us about them. But we

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from Ken Zimmerman (originally a comment)

When I was 12 and my sister 5 she was convinced that pixies lived in our backyard and protected our house from the coyotes, raccoons, and bobcats that were a problem for city neighborhoods all over Texas due to the drought.  I tried to convince her otherwise but couldn’t.  I agreed to go with her every night before her bedtime to search for the pixies. Never found them and by the time my sister began the new school year she had forgotten about pixies. This is my way of saying human life and knowledge begins and moves on through experience. Despite her detailed description of the pixies she  and I could not experience them. Pixies, like economic theories can be beautiful and fascinating when those who believe in the tell us about them. But we can’t know a pixie till we can see, touch, and judge a pixie. So it is with economic theories. Till we can see and measure a theory operating in events and actions we can observe directly or indirectly, we can’t know it’s value or usefulness. Can people become so enamored of a theory or strongly want to believe it is right that they blindly accept it? Yes. Should they? No. This is a warning economists should particularly take to heart.

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