Salted

By | September 30, 2016

Here’s the problem with quant-land.

I haven’t read the paper that Drum mentions and I probably won’t, but when you study something like this, you are bound by the quantifiable. At least in our modern conception, if it’s not measurable, it’s not real.

So you can do things like conclude that inequality only affects our economy by $200 billion a year.

That’s the $200 billion you can measure so to quants (which in reality is most everyone these days — it’s an ideology and a worldview, not just a practice) it’s all that matters. All that is. But of course it does not and will never account for these things: the art that does not and will never be created by the downtrodden and humiliated workers toiling at bullshit jobs; the resignation of a single mother realizing that she can be the most moral, the most kind person in the world and that only leads to more exploitation for her; the disabled person who is told in no uncertain terms that they are a waste of society’s time and money despite having much to contribute if they were only allowed to do so in slightly different terms; the cancer cure that will never be discovered because the researcher who will do so is told they are not quite good enough at some obscure area of calculus that they’ll never use anywhere.

I could go on. But do you see my point? The trouble with getting rid of the natural sciences and qualitative research and retreating to misnamed and inapplicable ideas like econophysics (which is neither economics or physics, but rather a joke) is that your range of possible knowledge shrinks to 1/1000 of what it could be otherwise sans the quant obsessions.

Most science these days is a sorting test to assay who has the highest IQ (though only in math areas) and can do well quickly in a very narrow and solvable range of math problems, rather than who has the best ideas, who is the most motivated, or who will actually not make the next nuclear weapon.

It’s one way to run a society, but is it a good one?

I have my doubts.