Re: Structure vs Substance?

Subject: Re: Structure vs Substance?
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: "Sharon Burton-Hardin" <sharonburton -at- earthlink -dot- net>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 13:27:57 -0700

At 11:37 AM 6/12/00 -0700, Sharon Burton-Hardin wrote:

At the risk of jumping in where angels (or anthropologists) fear to tread -
the essence of economics is not stats. I am trained as an economic
anthropologist (among other things) and economics is the study of the flow
of goods and services, how they are assigned, allocated, stored, saved,
used, and moved around in a group, culture, or the world, depending on what
you want to look at.

You must understand how and why these goods and service "behave" as they do
to understand the economics of something. That understanding MAY include a
stats analysis, but certainly does not have to. And having a statistical
analysis does not explain much - it is supporting evidence for other things.
The kind of sweeping conclusions Kelley made in his article were unsupported
by any factual data whatsoever. His premise (and certainly Andrew's) that
the "New Economy" is already producing Utopian-style changes in human
behavior is laughable. The fact is that not even serious economists have a
handle yet on the impact of the Web on local or global economies,
and certainly no one is in a position to understand what changes, if any, in
human behavior are likely to result.

And despite what you say Sharon, the collection and analysis of statistical
data is the essence of economics. Not only that, but acquisition of valid statistical
data about economies is extremely difficult to obtain, and is even more vital
when the object of study is some innovative new wrinkle (e.g., the Web).

Even when you have valid statistical data, the analysis of that data for the
purpose of understanding and explaining new economic factors and
predicting their long-term impacts is difficult, and typically takes
many years of data before reliable conclusions can be made.

If you are an economist who is not directly using statistics in your work,
then you are relying on the published work of economists who do that
kind of work (i.e., the collection, validation, and analysis of statistical data
about specific aspects of economies).

Statistics is the fundamental underpinning of Economics, and it is only that
underpinning that qualifies it to be classified as a science.
Hence its other name--the "Dismal Science,"
where the dismal part is the statistics.

The fact of the matter is that, when something new comes along and
people are perplexed or uncertain about how it will affect them. two types of
quackery often arise:

1. Predictions of looming catastrophe.

2. Utopian predictions.

Both types of quacks share a similar trait: Their world view is at odds
with the rest of humanity. They seize on major new developments as
the harbingers of change that will vindicate their world view.

| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
10044 Adams Ave. #208, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
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Re: Structure vs Substance?: From: Sharon Burton-Hardin

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