Frustration Friday: I Repeat, Economics Is A Religion

So I'm watching the coverage of the entire Occupy Wall Street thing. In most cases, the news does a terrible job:

  1. You have what seem to be intentional distortions, which are so blatant as to be pathetic.
  2. You have the usual comparisons to the 60's, which is vaslty off.
  3. You have general ignorance.
  4. You have general cluelessness because people don't seem to want to actually analtze it (and usually fall back to items #2 and #3).
  5. Then there are people who just don't cover it.

It's annoying because it seems pretty apparent that this is happening for a reason, is part of larger trends, and seems to be strong in public awareness.

Again, I think this is because economics to many people is religion in the 'revealed" sense – it's about gods and devils, about universal truths that cannot be challenged, and things that must fit into a system of thought.  So something like OWS, which is both about politics AND economics is going to fall into the "religion" trap all too easy.

Which means lousy reporting – and of course for someone like me who tracks economic, political, and geeky issues (and with all the social media involves, this is a geeky issue as well) it's harder to get information.  This frustrates me and makes me write columns.

Frankly?  I think economics should never be considered a hard science – it deludes us into thinking it happens somehow independently of people.  It's a social science – because its about people, and because it acknowledges the messiness of it all.

If people thought of economics as messy, maybe it wouldn't get the revealed religion treatment so much and we could, I dunno, talk about it and report on it better – and people would be less afraid to.

Steven Savage