Shocked Disbelief

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


Chaitin, da Costa and Doria (2012, p. 16) say, “The Gödel–Turing phenomenon is an all-pervasive fact that has to be understood in order to be conquered and usefully mastered.” But the Gödel–Turing phenomenon is subversive of power and authority. It has, therefore, been effectively excluded from mainstream economics, which serves existing powers, at least in macroeconomics. Mainstream economists are experts, and monopoly experts have an incentive to act like the seers of Ancient Greece. But if we take the self-referential logic of Gödel–Turing seriously, the expert is put back on a plane of equality with the nonexpert. The implications of Gödel–Turing in social science, in other words, are democratic and antihierarchical. The deeply democratic message of this paper, however, is hostile to the interests of experts and thus unlikely to find a place in mainstream economics in the foreseeable future. If we do not conquer the Gödel– Turing phenomenon, we may fall into magical thinking. By “magical thinking,” I mean an argument with one or more steps that require something impossible. Unfortunately, experts often have an incentive to engage in magical thinking. Experts, including economic experts, are therefore unlikely to engage or even recognize the Gödel–Turing phenomenon. I begin with an example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLimits Of Mathematical Modeling In The Social Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationThe Significance Of Godel's Incompleteness Phenomenon
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co.
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781786343161
StatePublished - May 30 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Mathematics


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