“Torture numbers and they will confess to anything.”
As the global tendency of mathematisation occupies the academia, we observe that humanities became human sciences. The studies that explore human and social interactions now got labelled as political and social sciences, and even economic activities are considered as the application of mathematic calculation on the reality. Basically, all studies are now a part of science. As this tendency of mathematisation grows, statistics tools became a must to convince an observed causation. But simply, statistics tools are to prove a correlation and correlation does not imply causation. Sciences worship the tool of numbering as the best tool for reasoning, yet abandoned the logical way of thinking embedded the observation. Surely, correlations proven by statistics and mathematics help us understand better the social and economic activities but abandoning the basic logics hidden behind the numbers has led us to the corner-end of a further scientific understanding. This happened when academia started to value more Economics than Philosophy. Since the public is convinced to believe the numbers without criticising the logic, the statistics became a manipulative tool as economists “torture the data long enough, to get any confession they want to generate.”
I was reflecting the value and its measurement on which our economies are based. Then I got lost thinking to which point I should believe the numbers without reasoning any numbers I encounter, which would be impossible in my lifetime. Considering those claims like “Finance is not the economy” or “Economics is politics“, studying economic based on economic publications from recognised institutions now can be compared with believing what a politician says from the television channel. I believe that the myth of almighty mathematical economics was prove to be reconsidered after the 2008 crisis for any economist could answer the Queen’s question. To find an encounter point, I went back to the basic logic of mathematics and how such logic reflects the reality on thought experiments. Even the basic ‘1+1=2’ logic is in debate since it lacks mathematical proof to prove if it is true. Even so, how can we make sure the ‘1+1=2’ is also applicable in real economic life?
Language knows the limitation of such calculation and thus limit its way to express. For example, ‘1 water + 1 water = 1 water’ is true when one water drop emerges with other water drop to make a slightly bigger water drops. In such case, 1+1=2 becomes a false statement. English language recognises that we cannot count water, as it is an uncountable noun, so it adds another measurement to count the noun. ‘1 pint of beer + 1 pint of beer = 2 pints of beer’ seems true, yet the formula also can be dictated as ‘1 pint of beer + 1 pint of beer = 1 bottle of beer’. Again, 1+1=2 becomes a false statement unless there is the unification of measurement. The only measurement for uncountable nouns should be a ‘pint (500ml)’ to make this mathematical application work in real economies. Yet doing so, we generate another false statement of ‘1+1=2’ when to mix with 1 pint of beer with 1 pint of water. There are surely 2 pints but the value of beer won’t be 2 but still remain as 1.
Technology gets in the way, affirming that 4 pints of water can convert into 1 pint of beer (:this is hypothetical. In fact, to produce a pint of beer 60-180 litres of water are required. It’s interesting to compare that a premium orange juice requires more water and a Coke less water). Then, ‘1 pint of beer + 1 pint of water = 1.25 pints of beer’ as to make the unification of measurement validated. Yet 1+1=2 becomes a false statement in such brewery economy. Taste and demand also change over time. A pint of beer of today will lose its freshness tomorrow. Let’s say the degradation is 10% per day, and the beer is not consumed but stored. I produce 1 pint of beer everyday. I have a pint of beer today, which value will be 0.9 pint of beer tomorrow due to its degradation. So to maintain 2 pints of beer tomorrow (which artificially maintains 1+1=2), I have to produce 1.1 pint of beer tomorrow. In economic terms it would be called 10% of growth as the statistic claims, but it was merely to maintain my past value and current capacity. This is what we observe in GDP counting, as a growth rate.
In any case mentioned above, 1+1=2 wasn’t true in real economy. But the public believes that 1+1=2 is a unbreakable rule in mathematics and economics. It’s complicated to dig up the intangible values, in English language expressed as uncountable nouns. So the value of unified measurement is considered mighty since it’s tangible and countable. Now, the glass pint is what became more important regardless it contains beer or not. We exchanged the relief to believe that the measurement contains the context value with financial currency. Finance understood well this social psychology, so they focused on creating more glass pints. ‘1 pint of beer + 3 empty pints = 4 pints of beer’ is false, since there still is 1 valid pint of beer. 1+1=2 is again a false statement, which is the very reason that the financial market can act to exchange 3 empty pints for the profit as the public believes there are 4 pints of beer whatsoever. Likewise, there are approximately 10 times more of financial capital than the real value in the global economy. Maybe we need to rewrite those claims mentioned earlier: “Finance is the economy since economics is a political argument.”
Maybe it’s time to return to consider the value of intangible and uncountable noun, since in this case the beer was what we wanted to consume. After the unification of measurement for beer, we have started the glass pints to assure that we have enough beer to consume and produce. But how to rethink the value of beer then, without the measurement of the value? Or at least, we should admit that economics or any social sciences are not a science at all, since a simple scientific claim such as 1+1=2 doesn’t apply in it.