Nordhaus, among other things, wrote a hostile review of Jay Forrester’s World Dynamics, which led to the later Limits to Growth. The essential story there was one of hard-science arrogance: Forrester, an eminent professor of engineering, decided to try his hand at economics, and basically said, “I’m going to do economics with equations! And run them on a computer! I’m sure those stupid economists have never thought of that!” And he didn’t walk over to the east side of campus to ask whether, in fact, any economists ever had thought of that, and what they had learned. (Economists tend to do the same thing to sociologists and political scientists.The general rule to remember is that if some discipline seems less developed than your own, it’s probably not because the researchers aren’t as smart as you are, it’s because the subject is harder.Bolding is mine, because it's the good bit. The attitude of economists towards other social scientists has always intensely annoyed me; figuring out how one divvys up the resources is relatively easy to compute compared to, say, social dynamics. Yet we get the spectacle of economists trying to "explain it all" using logic that would cause helpless gales of laughter in anybody familiar with the fields in question.
(That's why I've never been totally impressed by Levitt, by the by. His books are an interesting read, but I wouldn't bet the farm on 'em.)
In any case, kudos to the Professor for not acting like, well, every other economist in the world. Nice change.
Edit: Ahahahaha I hadn't read his latest column yet.
Nine years ago The Economist ran a big story on oil, which was then selling for $10 a barrel. The magazine warned that this might not last. Instead, it suggested, oil might well fall to $5 a barrel.
In any case, The Economist asserted, the world faced “the prospect of cheap, plentiful oil for the foreseeable future.”
Last week, oil hit $117.