There are many important fields where one can’t rigorously prove results but there’s wisdom to be had, so I don’t think that you can’t know things you can’t prove.
Economics as a science is basically about modeling, and if all you knew about the economy was what can be modeled you would know very little. … One spends a lot of time understanding these models, and then what? Does that make you a valued counsel for a large company or government? Only insofar as you can argue better, generating a spread argument that others can’t easily dismiss. … [S]uch tools are used are often used to obfuscate and deflect common sense criticisms as being nonscientific, when such people are speaking about constructs and relationships with more rigor than is empirically warranted. I think it’s pointless to get into such debates…. That’s not a search for truth, just a way to more easily convince yourself you were right all along.
… Perhaps we simply need more granular data than is available, so like the germ theory before the magnifying glass, we simply can know what’s driving things. Clearly national income accounting has failed spectacularly relative to original expectations as to what it would show, like measuring one’s health via a thermometer: correct at extremes, but pretty useless in between.
Maybe things like the good life or happiness or an optimal fiscal policy will forever remain things that are achievable, just not in any rigorous way. Or maybe someday we will discover the equivalence of an economic magnifying glass.