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IF economics is a predictive science, SHOULDN'T those making economic predictions be held responsbile? Might not a few people in prison change everyone's tune about whether or not economics is a simple and therefore predictive scienece rather than a complex and therefore nonpredictive science?

Of course, this case is indicative of the basic ignorance of what real science can really do, and what scientists are really capable of doing.

But consider this:

If mere physical/chemical processes are too complex to predict, and economies are exponentially more complex than the human brain, which is exponentially more complex than biology, which is exponentially more complex than chemical processes, then the likelihood of real predictivity is unlikely at best.

At best, economists can make pattern predictions. The same as psychologists/neuropbiologists, biologists, and seismologists.

Pete,

Your characterization of verdict, "guilty of manslaughter by not correctly predicting an earthquake," is incorrect. The Nature article is not so bad, actually, but much of the rest of the reporting in this case has been most unfortunate and misleading. I think it has misled you. No on was convicted for failure to predict the unpredictable. Roger Pielke Jr. does a good job of explaining the suit. Be sure to click through to the Science article.

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2012/10/mischaracterizations-of-laquila-lawsuit.html

They gave false reassurances that everything was fine, inventing on the spot a spurious theory that the recent small tremors implied a *reduced* risk of a major quake. Many persons familiar with the details of the case suspect that the assurances of the Major Risks Committee were really meant to disparage Gioacchino Giuliani, who had been predicting an imminent major quake.

This not about role of science in human knowledge. It is about the role of experts in human society.

Of course, this case is indicative of the basic ignorance of what real science can really do, and what scientists are really capable of doing.This not about role of science in human knowledge. It is about the role of experts in human society.

We always need a scapegoat for our problems. Perhaps we should simply bring back the goat.

Roger,

I had already read the blog post you point to, but I thought my wording about the subtleties of the case I thought would cover me, but I guess not. I really only used the case as a way to sample Stigler's wit and wisdom.

But I take your general point about the case not being about science, but about the role of experts in human society. The more analogous case technically would not be Stigler's professor, but your forensic scientist giving false positives to convict someone because the police wanted that suspect to be convicted, right?

Pete,

Right. That is indeed how it seems to me.

A manslaughter charge seems like prosecutorial overreaching to me. But the anti-expert in me would like to see them pay some sort of price for their actions.

BTW: The Science article has helpful particulars not in the Pielke blog.

I don't see how the experts being wrong in a different way in any way makes the situation any better.

I don’t agree with the final verdict and the charge – even if it has reported by international media in a very misleading way. But I can’t notice how scientists completely downplayed their role as state appointed officers (otherwise no one would have prosecuted them). They hold a position which entitled to start emergency procedure in case of danger. They were “experts in charge” and not simply scientists or hired consultants.

As I said I don’t agree with the final verdict, but I think if you have some sort of public power over the people you can’t compare yourself with a scientist stating an opinion. Especially if you tell in a press room “no need for cautionary measures, don’t worry, go home and drink a cup of wine” and then the quake comes.

"It seems paradoxial beyond endurance to rule that a manufacturer of shampoos may not endanger a student's scalp but a premier educational institution is free to stuff his skull with nonsense"

I love that judge. To be honest, can't wait for the time when economists will be brought to trial and maybe get life sentences.

la economia nunca se podra predecir siempre que los gobernantes que tienen el dinero en las manos no sepan como utilizarlo para las mejores decisiones, gastar en los que necesitamos. gracias

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