Thursday, April 10, 2014

VIDEO Insane Water Machine That Models the Keynesian Economy

Yesterday, I posted a comment by Tom DiLorenzo about a crazy analog computer, designed by A. W. Phillips, that supposedly modeled economic theory with water flows (SEE:This Week's Keynesian Crackpot of the Week Award...). The damn thing becomes even crazier to think about when you actually see the machine in operation.

Thanks to A.J. Van Slyke for sending this clip along.


  1. I remember a lecture in C-SPAN not long ago (maybe a couple of months ago) by an author of a book on economic history, where he describes A. W. Phillips as this precocious mechanical genius (which I don't doubt he was) who later became seriously interested in economics and applied his mechanical knowledge to explain economic phenomena by building the contraption called the MONIAC computer which was nothing more than a type of analog computer. I immediately searched the internet to learn more about the inventor and his computer; it didn't take me long to discover the machine could not work to make economic predictions or even to model economic activity for the simple reason that the relationship between the input and the various outputs is linear, completely contrary to what happens in the real world with real people. According to the Wikipedia entry on the MONIAC computer, Phillips and his students found that they could calibrate the machine to within plus or minus 2%, which is a meaningless fact as there is no mention of the standard of comparison and I am sure whatever standard was used, it was most likely some equilibrium model which would've been just as useless.

    1. I've seen the stupid thing in action and really it would only impress you if you were extraordinarily naive. it makes Space Mountain at Disney look a triumph of special effects

  2. There is a scene in an old Tom Baker Dr. Who episode where he walks out of the TARDIS and finds himself amongst over engineered buildings on some industrial park planet. He takes a look and says "Too many economists". I wish I knew which episode.