Saturday, May 14, 2011

Richard H. Thaler — The Aether Variable

"...So in answer to the current question I am proposing that we now change the usage of the word Aether, using the old spelling, since there is no need for a term that refers to something that does not exist. Instead, I suggest we use that term to describe the role of any free parameter used in a similar way: that is, Aether is the thing that makes my theory work....

"Often Aetherists (theorists who rely on an Aether variable) think that their use of the Aether concept renders the theory untestable. This belief is often justified during their lifetimes, but then along comes clever empiricists such as Michelson and Morley and last year's tautology become this year's example of a wrong theory.

"Aether variables are extremely common in my own field of economics...."

Matthew Yglesias says he prefers "phlogiston".

(h/t Robert Vienneau at Thoughts on Economics)


Letsgetitdone said...

Reminds me of the long-term equilibrium real interest rate; See:

Tom Hickey said...

Or equilibrium in general.

Detroit Dan said...

Letsgetitdone-- Great post on the Rognlie discussion. Thanks for the link...

Septeus7 said...

The Aether never went anywhere, it was simply replaced with "dark matter" a WIMPy Aether instead of a luminiferous aether.

Michelson and Morley experiment only tested Maxwell's static Aether not the "Dynamic Gravity" or "Mechanical" Aether of Telsa.

Michelson and Morley assumed that an Aether wind would drag behind the gravity induced rotation in space whereas the real Aether theorists said that gravity itself was induced by Aetheric pressure and you can't have a Aether Wind drag but rather a "matter wind"
drag behind the Aether.

Einstein's gravity well concept might as well a Aether pressure concept because if all of space is filled with Aether and the Aether moves then the resulting curvature would induce a gravity like force just like a object in water follows the curvature of the pressure waves in the water.

The Physics of the last 100 years is worse than the economics since Neoliberalism.

If you doubt that, I suggest you read Michio Kaku and ask yourself is a Black Hole Time Machine for a parallel universe any less ridiculous than a Magical Market where equilibrium and efficiency will lead us to paradise.

It's time to face the fact that 20th century was a intellectual and cultural dark age and the 21st century will be an economic and technological dark age unless we drop the 20th century ideological baggage and go back a update 19th ideas like Chartalism, National Sovereignty, and Classical Physics.

The reintroduction the polyphonic tonal music would also be an improvement to the brain damaged popular culture we get to today. But with all the budget cutting that is fashion these days I suspect that the future music will be grunted verbalization of text message slang through an autotuned voice.

Calgacus said...

Not to agree too much with Septeus7, but why do people pick on honest old scientific theories like aether and phlogiston? To quote Einstein "General Relativity is an aether theory." And any chemist should know that phlogiston is nothing but valence electrons. Both led to, and even comprised some real knowledge, and are far superior to the commodity theory of money, which is probably the worst scientific theory of all time, as Mitchell-Innes opined. Unfortunately there was a Copernican revolution in reverse in the 70s-80s in economics, and this dumb theory is behind all the mainstream nonsense, which contains far less real thought than aether and phlogiston did. It's just me, but I once threw a book across the room in disgust (Smolin's Three Roads to Quantum Gravity I think) when he confused phlogiston & caloric.