Paul M. Romer

Mathiness lets academic politics masquerade as science. Like mathematical theory, mathiness uses a mixture of words and symbols, but instead of making tight links, it leaves ample room for slippage between statements in the languages of words as opposed to symbols, and between statements with theoretical as opposed to empirical content. Because it is difficult to distinguish machines from mathematical theory, the market for lemons tells us that the market for mathematical theory might collapse, leaving only machines as entertainment that is worth little but cheap to produce.

Mathiness in the Theory of Economic Growth (PDF file)

2 thoughts on “Paul M. Romer

  1. shinichi Post author



    Mathiness is a term coined by Paul Romer to label a specific misuse of mathematics in economic analyses. An author committed to the norms of science should use mathematical reasoning to clarify his analyses. By contrast, “mathiness” is not intended to clarify, but instead to mislead. According to Romer, some researchers use unrealistic assumptions and strained interpretations of their results in order to push an ideological agenda, and use a smokescreen of fancy mathematics to disguise their intentions.


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