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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9603/aggregating-nonsense-and-little-else/

Aggregating nonsense, and little else

March 12, 2009 by

Two articles from a recent edition of The Columbus Dispatch make use of meaningless aggregations. First off is the collective political force. A columnist writes, “But in November, voters elected a Democratic House and a Republican Senate to safeguard Ohio’s cashbox.” As if voters across the state conspired to split the Ohio legislature. Nonsense. Yet, by claiming as much, writers can ascribe all kinds of attributes and voices to the collective voter, allowing for lengthy columns and little else.

Then there is the backward definition of the rational man — the rational man defined as anyone who seeks the same ends sought by the researcher. Of course, this implies that actions are irrational which are not aligned to the ends sought by the researcher — the self-assumed rational man. However, Mises showed long ago that all actions are rational from the actor’s point of view. And who really cares about the observer? A host of researchers, politicians, nanny do-gooders, and assorted madmen, of course.

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