In today's Mises.org Daily Article, Robert Higgs writes on how a professor helped send the field of economics on the wrong path by using fancy mathematics to try to explain human action:
We are advised against speaking ill of the dead. In this regard, I am safe, I suppose, because Paul A. Samuelson, whom I intend to criticize, remains alive, although he will soon be 93 years old and therefore cannot be long for this world. When I was first learning economics, in the 1960s, Samuelson was held up by my teachers as the greatest living economist — a genius, they used to say. In the course of my undergraduate and graduate training, I was given no reason to doubt that assessment.
Indeed, a memorably painful part of my graduate education consisted of my attempts to read and understand Samuelson's landmark book Foundations of Economic Analysis (1947), a treatise in mathematical economic theory, patterned after classical thermodynamics, that set the tone for much of what the cleverest mainstream economists would do for decades to come.
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Note: Using fancy mathematics has also sent physics and astronomy down the wrong path, but that's a whole another story!