Best post I've read so far on the issue. I've cited Krugman's here as well because I think he highlights what I think is most valuable about math in economics, but what I like about Bob's is that he quite explicitly separates two things that I think a lot of people (for example, perhaps Bryan Caplan and Pete Boettke) have been conflating: non-mathematical economics and "economic intuition" or what Bob calls "basic economics".
A lot of the discussion has treated this as a choice between high-falutin math on the one hand and good intuitive "thinking like an economist" economics on the other hand. As I pointed out, this is a category error. Math is a language for communicating an idea, and "thinking like an economist" or "basic economics" or whatever you want to call it is the substance of what you're communicating. Nobody wants to abandon the economic way of thinking. The question is, how do you write that up, and does mathematical or literary economics enable or obscure good economics.
The best answer, it seems to me, is that it depends and that literary economics can obscure good economics as readily as math can. Bob gives nice examples of both cases posing problems.
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