Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who Cares if Hayek Won the Nobel Prize in Economics?

And for that matter: who cares if Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics?

Anyone who is serious about debating should know that appeals to authority are logical fallacies. I often see people appealing to the fact that Hayek got a Nobel prize, as if this should impress us, and as though it provides some support to his theories. This is nothing but an appeal to authority.

Here are some crucial points in response:
(1) The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences is not even a proper Nobel prize at all: it was not set up by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. Instead, it was established by the Central Bank of Sweden in 1968.

(2) Friedrich Hayek won the prize in 1974 jointly with the Swedish social democrat Gunnar Myrdal.

(3) The overwhelming number of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winners are neoclassicals, neoclassical synthesis Keynesians or New Keynesian economists who reject Austrian economics, but

(4) It is neither here nor there if Hayek, Krugman or anyone else won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. It doesn’t mean much.
Neoclassical economics is wrong and the majority of Nobel Memorial Prize winners are neoclassicals. It follows that most of these people’s theories are probably wrong too. Some Post Keynesians have been awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize, but again this does not give any extra support to Post Keynesian economic theory.

Post Keynesian economics – just like any other economic theory – will stand or fall on the truth of its foundational assumptions and the consistency and cogency of its arguments, and, where appropriate, whether empirical evidence gives support to its theories.



    Sorry for the caps lock, but that's the proper name. I *never* call it "Nobel Prize".

    Did you know that one of the winners of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize...was a member of the board of the Sveriges Riksbank? Who chose to award it to him? He did...alone, and after pressuring/blackmailing the rest. Despite this particular nobody having never made a serious contribution to economics, ever. I don't even want to name that loser, although he is famous enough for you to also know who he was.

    What a joke of a "prize".

    Do economists break their arms patting themselves on their back?

  2. I realize this is a really old post, but since I ended up here someone else might and I want them to be correctly informed. Your claim that appeals to authority are logical fallacies has caveats namely if the person is
    1) The person has sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question.
    2)The claim being made by the person is within her area(s) of expertise.
    3) There is an adequate degree of agreement among the other experts in the subject in question.
    4)The person in question is not significantly biased.
    5)The area of expertise is a legitimate area or discipline.
    6)The authority in question must be identified.
    then the there is no logical fallacy for example if I reference something Einstein said about general relativity I committed no fallacy because he is the inventor an expert etc. Now you could add more or maybe subtract some of these, but the point will remain basically the same. Now except for 1 and 4 these are all clearly valid in this instance (you admit in your statement 2,3,5 and 6). You might claim that Nobel Memorial Prize in economics and PhD's are not sufficient evidence of expertise, but since there is no higher prize or degree in economics you would be hard pressed to find a better definition of expertise. You might be on to something with bias for example they have political views and those may effect their claims, but hanging your hat on 1 out of 6 caveats which you have presented no evidence to refute is pretty lame as far as debating goes. So in this case it appears that the appeal to authority is valid.