Neuroeconomics

Dec 03, 2011 by
Neuroeconomics   money in the brain
Image Source: Psychology Today.

A couple of years ago, I went to a conference where some new-fangled techniques in economic studies were discussed in one of the sessions. The novel methods involved presenting test subjects with economic choices, and then administering blood tests or brain scans to observe changes in hormonal levels and brain activity; it is an idea I touched on in an earlier post. At the time, I had a laugh; this bizarre hybrid of economics and psychobiology was chilling, yet funny, because of its dull literal-mindedness. 

When the economy tanks and everyone finds economists without answers, then economic analysts sometimes poach on other disciplines' territories to find new methods.  Occasionally, they move right into another field and make themselves at home. For example, they have been camping in the field of history, with an area of research they call Cliometrics.  They've also expressed some interest in economics as an applied philosophy. As one of my friends who works in philosophy said, if the economists were to stop by, he would go down to the front gate and say: "Nothing to see here, Boys, move on, move on."

And move on they have, with zero sense of irony - to neuroscience, psychology and biology. It's a sign of how desperate economic researchers are.  They need to find solutions to serious problems that their theories partly engendered. So far, they have come up empty-handed. Rather than containing the recession, their methods have been politicized; their ideas have been appropriated by practitioners in politics; and the economy is not improving. And so since 2008, with pressing urgency, the economists have been moving on, in a bid to develop whole new ways of economic thinking and remake the world economy.
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