Day By Day

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Failure of the Quants

Joseph Fuller, writing in the American Scholar [here], notes the role played by computer models in exacerbating the financial crisis. Before the crisis hit business executives and investors placed far too much faith in these models predictions of the future and when the crisis came programmed trading hastened the collapse of the credit markets. The essential point is a warning, do not place too much faith in computer models -- the results may be catastrophic.

But that is precisely what climate change theorists are asking us to do. On the basis of computer model predictions regarding an global environmental system vastly more complex than the business system wherein such models have failed, they are asking public officials to undertake immensely expensive projects that could bankrupt nations.

The example of business models should lead us all to question the efficacy of the climate models upon which the current administration is building policy and the touching faith administration officials seem to have in those models should give us all pause.