Re: poly: Modeling Economic Singularities

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Fri May 01 1998 - 10:16:38 PDT

Perry M. writes:
>I've stopped asking you for any detailed justifications, Robin. I
>asked for a nice, simple empirical study performed to try to assess
>the accuracy of your model. Not even for the study itself -- just a
>pointer to it. ...
>The method of science says that when you have a hypothesis, you should
>be able to demonstrate its validity by experimentation. Well, just
>show me an experiment. No need for any justifications at all -- we'll
>treat your equations as a black box handed down from heaven. All I
>want is one experiment. Surely if your theory is good you've tested
>it, have you not?

My reference to the Orion engineering studies was to point out that
engineering analyses are typically done before any direct experiment
is done. The experiments that justify the analysis are indirect,
giving confidence in the basic theories and equations used in the
analysis, but not directly testing the particular combination of
equations used in the analysis.

Here are some related experiments which give economists confidence
in equations related to those I used in my model: Transfers and Private Savings: an Experimental Study

As you likely don't have an account with, here are two EconLit items:

    The Impact of Government Budget Deficits and Social Security on Private Savings: Experimental Evidence
    University of Colorado, Ph.D.1994.
    0333646 .

    Investigations Concerning the Dynamics of Consumer Behavior in Uncertain Environments
    Coursey,-Don-L.; Mason,-Charles-F.
    Economic-Inquiry;25(4), October 1987, pages 549-64..
    This paper reports the results of several experiments investigating dynamic consumer behavior. When consumers know
    their incomes and prices but are uncertain about their preferences, the authors find that they typically adopt a two-step
    approach to locating optimal consumption bundles. Initially, a grid search method is employed; this is followed by a
    gradient search method. An interesting phenomenon observed in many of the experiments is a tendency to consume a
    bundle well away from the optimum, immediately after the optimum is located. The effects of income and price changes
    are also studied.
    0206911 .

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Fri May 1 17:32:24 1998

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