Critical Realism & Mathematics versus Mythematics in Economics

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This is the brief talk I gave at a conference celebrating 25 years of the Critical Realist seminar series at Cambridge University. Critical realists argue against the use of mathematics in economics; I argue here that it’s the abuse of mathematics by Neoclassical economists–who practice what I have dubbed “Mythematics” rather than Mathematics–and that some phenomena are uncovered by mathematical logic that can’t be discovered by verbal logic alone. I give the example of my own model of Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis, which revealed the possibility of a “Great Moderation” preceding a “Great Recession” before either event had happened.

About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.
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7 Responses to Critical Realism & Mathematics versus Mythematics in Economics

  1. TRJohns says:

    Dr. Keen,

    I’ve been reading your posts for a few years now and I thoroughly enjoy your work.

    Is there a way for me to purchase an autographed copy of your book?


  2. Steve Keen says:


    Make a substantial donation to Minsky via the plug-in on the website and I’ll happily put a copy in the mail to you. Allow about $60 for the cost of the book and postage.

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  4. Steve
    Last week Prof Bill Mitchell was in London where he gave a talk on re-framing the language used in the media that carried on the myth of the mainstream group-think. A lady in the audience named Barb Jacobson suggested that using the name Neo-Classical gives it a certain degree of cache and wants you guys to start calling it for what it is: “Scorched Earth Economics.” What a great name to use and doesn’t it ring true? Barb Jacobson is spot on!

  5. Sue Madden says:

    Hi Steve,
    I was really amused to see an interview a while back in the New Scientist, with the”research chief” (!!) at the B of E. If you haven`t seen it, you really must:
    Opinion Interview with Andy Haldane:”Sackcloth and Ashes on Threadneedle Street” New Scientist 25 March 2015
    Corbyn was elected leader!!!! Now the sparks will fly. At least a public debate worthy of the name might at last be heard in our sad country….
    Thanks for your work in trying to enlighten us!!

  6. TRJohns says:

    Dr. Keen,

    Thanks for the reply, I will try to make the donation to Minsky for the book tonight.

    I have a Ph.D. but it is in Business (Operations Management) so a lot of what has gone on was way out of my field but I feel like I’ve caught on quickly. I knew that what was going on leading up to 2007/2008 was not explained by what I had been taught in my Economics classes, I just didn’t know why until I began to read your and several other alternative blogs.

    Free and easy money (debt) sure has made a mess of things.


  7. TRJohns says:

    Dr. Keen,

    I’ve made the donation. Now I just need you to tell me if it was “substantial” enough.

    Unless I misunderstand, you can contact me via the email address I used when I created my account.


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