all my arguments are based on sound logic
August 4, 2011 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Praxgirl explains Praxeology. 6 Episodes so far. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

More on Praxeology.
Some critiques.
posted by Potomac Avenue (28 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I notice you've tagged a post about praxeology with "scientificmethod". Considering that praxeology is essentially the exact opposite, you might want to change that.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:35 AM on August 4, 2011


Fixed.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:39 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmmm...interesting stuff...someone should set up some sort of Foundation to study it further...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:40 AM on August 4, 2011


From the web site:
The discovery that economic logic applied not just to the sphere of markets, but to all human action was a major scientific breakthrough. The idea held that, if a man acts purposefully, he must follow a logical order inherent to all purposeful actions.

Understanding the conscious behavior of human beings as always purposeful has vast implications for knowledge in the regularity in action


Why is this anything more than bullshit? Is it bullshit in a $500 suit and that's why we're paying attention?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:51 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is this anything more than bullshit?

It isn't. It's a form of bullshit peddled by a few Austrian-school economists, popular with a small but quite vocal crowd on the Internet (visit reddit to watch them in their natural habitat). It's as much of a "major scientific breakthrough" as Objectivism.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:54 AM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was interested until she got to the part about people don't need to be responsible for their actions, because The Free Market Will Solve Everything!

Yes, I Accept Donations. But Only Sound Money. No Fed Notes!

Uh huh.
posted by DU at 10:55 AM on August 4, 2011


I watched the first two episodes, and I'm not sure that I can watch any more as long as she is going to call this a science. We already have social sciences (psychology, sociology, etc.), and guess what? They are based on observation. A field of study that relies on discursive reasoning alone is a branch of philosophy, not a science. And it doesn't seem like very good philosophy either.
posted by no mind at 10:57 AM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Its a belief system. In science, we have doubts. We disagree. I challenge your explanation and you call me out. This is a doctrine, with tawdry rags of some interesting concepts such as emergence and self-organization flashing in the light of a pretty (annoying) woman.
posted by stonepharisee at 11:02 AM on August 4, 2011


How economists get by with claiming "harmonious world markets" today is beyond me.
posted by odinsdream at 11:02 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, the whole thing rests on the assumption of humans as purely rational actors, which fails to account for factors like affect and affective attachments, culture, impulse, etc.
posted by LMGM at 11:04 AM on August 4, 2011


I may have to send her a copy of Everything is Obvious* (Once you know the Answer)

As to why this is useful, it pretty well pulls apart the concepts and results of common sense reasoning. Its a great read, and I relate it to model building... Effectively, when folks try to put too much faith and credence in the models I am creating, I point to this and show: this is why you can't rely on this model alone - it is based on some large assumptions... and one technique alone will result in a good view of the big picture... moreso, once you see the big picture you may find out you are looking at it totally wrong... that your facts - which may or may not actually be facts - may be spirriously true, and your assumption that they are related may be completely baseless... meaning: we may have gotten it right strictly by chance.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:17 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked this better when it made the trains run on time.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:17 AM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your words ... you should type them so I can read them. I don't enjoy watching your talking head. Also, I can more easily paste choice bits into IRC to mock you, that way.
posted by fritley at 11:19 AM on August 4, 2011


I was interested until she said:

The beauty of the market is that many times you won't have to do all the work. Some eager folks around YouTube have been offering to provide transcriptions and even dubbing some of my episodes.

Not sure how conflating a society of people collectively donating their labour for the common good (their perception of) with 'The Market' PBUI really fits under the rubric of logic. Unless she's paying them.

Fortunately that was the first line on the first link, so I saved me some time there.
posted by titus-g at 11:20 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The beauty of the market is that...sometimes people work for free? Filed under "box of rocks".
posted by adamdschneider at 11:30 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure how conflating a society of people collectively donating their labour for the common good (their perception of) with 'The Market' PBUI really fits under the rubric of logic. Unless she's paying them.

There are other rewards besides money - status, for example. If someone expects this to become the Next Big Thing and is in on it from the beginning, then their contribution is based on an anticipation of future rewards. I actually think praxeology (with a small p) has considerable value, but this Praxgirl character is treating it like religious dogma and is hopelessly blind to the contradictions and flaws in her arguments. She thinks it axiomatic that all human action is purposeful because any attempt to argue the contrary is itself purposeful. This is clearly absurd. Using praxeology's own methods, the existence of concepts such as whimsy, serendipity and so forth are a priori proof of undirectional activity.

tl;dr Boxee still Queen of Internets
posted by anigbrowl at 12:11 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Based on sound logic" = "Based on stuff that sounds like logic"?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:19 PM on August 4, 2011


Praxeology in a nutshell:
  1. Declare that mathematics and scientific observation are unsuitable for economic reasoning.
  2. Find a set of propositions that best rationalize your belief in things like hereditary aristocracy is the most legitimate form of social organization and money should be made of shiny bits of metal we dig out of the ground.
  3. Declare these propositions to be axiomatic and invoke Kant while building up a formal argument, and if our axioms don't appear self-evident to you then it's because you're looking for a government handout.

posted by FreedomTickler at 12:37 PM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I actually think praxeology (with a small p) has considerable value

How so? Not being snarky, genuinely curious. As you and others have noted, it's simple sophistry. What value does it have?
posted by Sangermaine at 1:11 PM on August 4, 2011


Hiring that spokesbunny probably made this a huge hit with libertarians.
posted by rusty at 1:22 PM on August 4, 2011


It has value in proportion to its predictive power. Praxgirl's interpretation of it is bullshit because she is a) trying to position praxeology as the framework for analysis of all human activity, b) assuming that what is imaginable is as good as knowable in analysis of action and c) that other approaches to human behavior (such as psychology) are all fundamentally lacking due to their reductive nature.

On the other hand, a lot of actions are purposeful and insofar as we are aware of a purpose (perhaps because the actor has stated its existence) and willing to accept that our analysis may have limitations, we can often successfully model people's actions using economic methods. Economics is not about money, after all; it's just that economic methods have been applied to the flow of money and goods because a) there are distinct benefits to be had from successfully doing so and b) economics is a quantitative science and accounting provides lots of quantitative data to work with.

It doesn't bother me that some of this stuff cites the Austrian school of Economics. I have a much higher opinion of economists like von Mises and Hayek than I do of their fanbase.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:34 PM on August 4, 2011


I didn't specify monetary payment :P (and I didn't suggest that either, pervs!).

At best it's equivocation.

There are other rewards, such as status, or indeed the satisfaction of believing one has done a good thing, or done one's duty to the party/country/cabal, but that train goes all the way to the clouds. It is possible to explain every human action in terms of individual gain, but it isn't really helpful, it factors out.

Also, technically a market is a structure in which people engage in exchange, status would come indirectly from the service given for free, and hence not really be an exchange of value. If one were going to push the point a case could be made that the payment is the links and credit given. That would only really hold if both both she and volunteers both perceived that to be the transaction they were engaging in.

But this is rather an ephemeral strand based my initial throw away comment based on smart-arse nitpicking.

I am going to go mash some potatoes: praxis.

Also my pig is wearing boots.
posted by titus-g at 1:36 PM on August 4, 2011


Hmmm...interesting stuff...someone should set up some sort of Foundation to study it further...
posted by sexyrobot at 1:40 PM on August 4


Or perhaps an Institute? One where the over privileged internet babies can mock everyone else with smug satisfaction while secretly they know that if they lose their IT job, they can always move back in with their parents? Just look at this pile of unmitigated bullshit:
Market Anarchism is the doctrine that the legislative, adjudicative, and protective functions unjustly and inefficiently monopolised by the coercive State should be entirely turned over to the voluntary, consensual forces of market society.
Oh my God you are so smart. Tell me which 18th century monographs I have to read to be as smart as you. I've never heard of 80% of the people on that page, but I only studied economics at a university that was clearly part of the crypto-marxists that seek to rob humans of their natural freedom by evaluating their performance on exams instead of by the way we smugly purse our goateed lips, shake our heads, and secretly resent the pretty girls on campus who would only read this shit if it guaranteed that they would never have to sleep with anyone else who read it.

The Austrian School. It's like Hogwart's, but more magical and insufferable.What a great cause to devote your life to. Not a cure for cancer, not civil rights, not a shinier car polish, but turning over the role of the legislature to the free market. Presumably that way we can conveniently find out who's buying off the government by checking the Wall Street Journal.

Thank you so much for establishing the Fonzarelli Institute so that we can all write shit like the above to cover up for the fact that we haven't had a decent erection in 15 years without the assistance of Japanese cartoon schoolgirls. Thank you so much for growing a beard and for hosting the annual Anarcho-Syndicalooza Furry-Con where we can learn about monumentally important things like the history of 19th century fraternal insurance organizations while dressed as our favorite Austrian entitled bourgeoisie. And let's not forget last year's seminar "If Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand Had a Baby, Would It Self-Abort?"

And let us not forget the economistes. Just look at all those names and pretentious philosophies. So many names of unimportant long-dead French university faculty members to memorize and drop into conversations with the University provost so that he will think we are actually doing scholarship instead of masturbating to our love of money and not cancel our funding.

This shit really fucking saddens me, you know? Somewhere out there an insecure high school sophomore to come across these yellow web pages and be impressed by all the name dropping and pseudointellectual ranting. And being a bit on the bright side and a bit on the shy side he will channel his frustration over girls and dating into learning about this. And in his natural curiosity he will want to know more, and will start to read it. He will find a ready-made community of similarly awkward and socially stunted misfits to welcome him into the fold. And he will find that sense of belonging that has eluded him in his adolescence.

And it will all make sense to him the way all shitty ideas make perfect sense to us when we are sophomores.

I want to reach out to that kid and tell him, "Don't waste your time on this. This stuff is death. Literally anything else is a better use of your time. Get on Facebook. Play video games. Steal music. Pirate movies. Make movies. Bake a pie. Fuck a pie. Cook meth. Cook the blue meth. Hack the Matrix. Go deeper. Listen for the kick. Live your life a quarter mile at a time. Run guns. Start a gang. Start Fight Club. Talk about Fight Club. Tell other people not to talk about Fight Club. Tell them again. Walk out on it in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat coming around the corner. Choose a job. Choose a family. Choose life."
posted by Pastabagel at 1:58 PM on August 4, 2011 [14 favorites]


c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_a_white_horse_is_not_a_horse

Mostly because of the joy of finding some whimsical humour (the pic and caption) that hasn't been stolen by the NPV extremist crowd.
posted by titus-g at 1:59 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


And it will all make sense to him the way all shitty ideas make perfect sense to us when we are sophomores.

That's true, but you could say the exact same thing about the Critical Theory movement.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:42 PM on August 4, 2011


Economics is not about money, after all; it's just that economic methods have been applied to the flow of money and goods because a) there are distinct benefits to be had from successfully doing so

Citation needed. We're in the middle of a very, very long game right now. So far, it's not looking very good for economists.
posted by odinsdream at 6:59 PM on August 4, 2011


Oh don't be ridiculous; that's like saying the jury's still out on calculus because quite a few aeroplanes crash every year. You'd think there were never any shortages before Adam Smith put pen to paper. And considering that I stressed the need to recognise the scope and limitations of the discipline of the discipline in the previous sentence, your objections look even more asinine.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:54 PM on August 4, 2011


Or perhaps an Institute? .... Just look at this pile of unmitigated bullshit:

So, bullshit in a $500 dollar suit it is. (But you said it a lot better, Pastabagel.)
posted by benito.strauss at 9:32 PM on August 4, 2011


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