May 28, 2008

The dark birth of econometrics

People studying for Canova’s exam or running regressions every day….Do you know that the father of econometrics is also the guy that inspired the line of social studies that created the scientific fundamentals for Nazism? The movement is called Eugenics, his dark father Sir Francis Galton:

He systematized these ideas and practices according to new knowledge about the evolution of man and animals provided by the theory of his cousin
Charles Darwin during the 1860s and 1870s. After reading Darwin's Origin of Species, Galton built upon Darwin's ideas whereby the mechanisms of natural selection were potentially thwarted by human civilization. He reasoned that, since many human societies sought to protect the underprivileged and weak, those societies were at odds with the natural selection responsible for extinction of the weakest; and only by changing these social policies could society be saved from a "reversion towards mediocrity," a phrase he first coined in statistics and which later changed to the now common "regression towards the mean."

In his introduction to his book Hereditary Genius he wrote: “I propose to show in this book that a man's natural abilities are derived by inheritance, under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world. Consequently, as it is easy, notwithstanding those limitations, to obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running, or of doing anything else, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations”

In which conception of society are we basing our highly sofisticated economic "scientifics" studies?

No comments: