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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  • TRJohns

    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?


  • Thanks.

    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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  • 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!

  • Sue Mad­den

    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!!

  • TRJohns

    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.


  • TRJohns

    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.