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June 13, 2021 

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SCARCITY: A pervasive condition of human existence that exists because society has unlimited wants and needs, but limited resources used for their satisfaction. In other words, while we all want a bunch of stuff, we can't have everything that we want. In slightly different words, this scarcity problem means: (1) that there's never enough resources to produce everything that everyone would like produced; (2) that some people will have to do without some of the stuff that they want or need; (3) that doing one thing, producing one good, performing one activity, forces society to give up something else; and (4) that the same resources can not be used to produce two different goods at the same time. We live in a big, bad world of scarcity. This big, bad world of scarcity is what the study of economics is all about. That's why we usually subtitle scarcity: THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM.

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PHENOMENON:

An event or action that is subject to investigation, analysis, and explanation using the scientific method. Phenomena are the sorts of things that science seeks to explain. They can be common events, like the blowing wind, or unusual, like the extinction of the dinosaurs.
While the term phenomenon might entice thoughts of UFOs, ghosts, and mutant three-headed turtles, it really applies to any type of event or action. These events can be extraordinary or mundane. They can be unusual or common place.

The types of events falling under the heading of phenomena and subject to scientific study include the sun rising, the stock market falling, a person talking, a volcano erupting, a basketball bouncing, a star exploding, and a bird flying. Some of these events might not seem appropriately suited to be called phenomena because they are quite ordinary.

The Extraordinary

Science is definitely interested in explaining unusual and extraordinary events. If a glowing, three-dimensional, translucent image of Abraham Lincoln playing badminton with Issac Newton suddenly appears on the front lawn of the White House, then science would certainly seek an explanation. Scientists salivate profusely at the prospect of explaining the occurrence of exceptional events. Doing so pushes forth the frontiers of science. It reveals possible deficiencies in existing theories and avenues for improvement.

The Great Depression of the 1930s, for example, revealed flaws in the existing classical economic explanation of the macroeconomy and induced economists to push forth the theoretical boundaries of economic science.

The Ordinary

Science, however, seeks to explain ordinary and mundane events, as well. It is also interested in explaining the glow of fireflies, the flight of a badminton shuttlecock, and the growth of grass on the front lawn of the White House. Explaining common events means that a theory works, that it has captured the essential laws of nature.

The same theory that might explain the catastrophic downturn of the Great Depression also needs to explain an increase in the unemployment rate from 5.1 percent to 5.2 percent. If it fails to explain the ordinary, then a theory has no chance of explaining the extraordinary.

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Recommended Citation:

PHENOMENON, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2021. [Accessed: June 13, 2021].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | empirical | data | verification |


Or For A Little Background...

     | scientific method | science | theory | principle | hypothesis | law | abstraction | cause and effect | world view |


And For Further Study...

     | fallacies | economic science | social science | physical science | dismal science | economic thinking |


Related Websites (Will Open in New Window)...

     | American Association for the Advancement of Science | American Economic Association | National Science Foundation |


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