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Paul_Crowley2 comments on Wrong Questions - Less Wrong

34 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 08 March 2008 05:11PM

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Comment author: Paul_Crowley2 08 March 2008 07:04:07PM 2 points [-]

How do you apply this approach to questions like "to what extent was underconsumption the cause of the Great Depression?" No conceivable experiment could answer such a question, even given a time machine (unlike, say, "Who shot JFK?") but I think such questions are nevertheless important to our understanding of what to do next.

The best answer I have to such questions is to posit experiments in which we rewind history to a particular date, and re-run it a million times, performing some specific miracle (such as putting money into a billion carefully-chosen wallets) on half a million of those occasions, and gather statistics on how the miracle affects economic indicators.

Comment author: pnrjulius 30 April 2012 02:56:21PM 1 point [-]

I have a somewhat better way. Place economics on a sufficiently rigorous empirical foundation, so that it is (let us say) somewhere near the level of quantum physics.

Having done this (monumental) task, we can now answer questions about historical events in economics as well as we can answer questions about historical events in physics---e.g. "Why is that laser red?" "Why did those interference fringes form here and not there?"