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One problem with economics is that it is necessarily focused on policy, rather than discovery of fundamentals. Nobody really cares much about economic data except as a guide to policy: economic phenomena do not have the same intrinsic fascination for us as the internal resonances of the atom or the functioning of the vesicles and other organelles of aliving cell. We judge economics by what it can produce. As such, economics is rather more like engineering than physics, more practical than spiritual. There is no Nobel prize for engineering, though there should be. True, the chemistry prize this year looks a bit like an engineering prize, because it was given to three researchers – Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt, and Arieh Warshel – “for the development of multiscale models of complex chemical systems” that underlie the computer programs that make nuclear magnetic resonance hardware work. But the Nobel Foundation is forced to look at much more such practical, applied material when it considers the economics prize. The problem is that once we focus on economic policy, much that is not science comes into play. Politics becomes involved, and political posturing is amply rewarded by public attention. The Nobel prize is designed to reward those who do not play tricks for attention, and who, in their sincere pursuit of the truth, might otherwise be slighted. Why is it called a prize in “economic sciences”, rather than just “economics”? The other prizes are not awarded in the “chemical sciences” or the “physical sciences.”” [to be continued...]



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