It was another “Michael Fish moment”, when meteorologists failed to forecast the 1987 hurricane.
Haldane is unfair on Fish.
The Met Office in 1987 was victim of a tiny nudge of air deflecting the course of the hurricane north of its expected path over the Atlantic.
It had no interest in being wrong, any more than polling science has an interest in getting elections wrong, which it increasingly does.
The Brexit forecast was in a different category.
It was like the “dodgy dossier” of the intelligence community on Saddam’s weapons arsenal.
It was experts distorted by politics, consciously or unconsciously saying what they or their paymasters wanted to hear.
It was “sexed-up” science.
The reasons given by economists for their Brexit forecast are feeble.
It did not take account of “inherent momentum”, of international factors or of government remedial action.
That is surely inadequate.
The true reason is that Project Fear, the Treasury-orchestrated attempt to frighten voters into the remain camp, consumed the political and intellectual establishment.
It blighted the judgment of social scientists.
It not only failed in its purpose of instilling fear, it appeared to validate a bogus reason for voting Brexit – that all experts are mendacious toffs.
After the debacle of 2008, academic economists made a few half-hearted attempts to answer the Queen’s famous LSE question, “Why did nobody notice?”
But there was no official or professional inquiry.
No one took any responsibility or blame for a forecasting failure that led to a policy disaster.
As now, it became the topic for a few jokes at a thinktank seminar.
I studied economics and respect its attempts to explain a turbulent world.
But each of these fiascos in a profession that purports to be scientific should receive a subsequent inquest.
Economics is plagued by the spurious exactness of mathematics.
It neglects human behaviour and grovels before its paymasters in government and commerce.
Its forecasting is as much use as Mystic Meg and the astrologers.
The essence of any science is relentless self-criticism.
Economics should suffer what the intelligence community did after Iraq.
It should be asked, in public, to explain how it came to make so blatant a professional error.