… is a remark made by Albert Einstein during a 1926 lecture in Berlin ; I encountered this astute quotation in this excellent June 24th, 2020, essay at AIER by Barry Brownstein :
Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is theory which decides what can be observed.
DBx: And what is true in physics is also true – indeed, more intensely so – in economics and other social sciences which study phenomena of vast complexity . Those who approach observing – those who count, measure, compare this quantity to that, and track quantitative trends – without first getting their theory straight and sound produce nonsense. This nonsense might well have all the trappings of high science; it might look to the unsuspecting eye to be the work of penetrating genius. But unless the data gathering and processing are built upon sound theory, it’s all rubbish – which is why some ways of teaching economics are better than others .