Economic Models Are Always Wrong?
This NYT op-ed, written by an economist in response to the recent disparaging remarks about the 2013 Economics Nobel being awarded to theorists with apparently conflicting stances, also provides an economist's take on the questions in the OP.
Yes, Economics is a science, Raj Chetty, NYT 21st October, 2013

The article reiterates a point mentioned above about the paucity of empirical data needed to constrain economic models. Quoting from the article:
Quote:Surely we don’t want to create more financial crises just to understand how they work.
Here is a listing of some earlier instances of 'experimental approaches' in economics, many of which may pose prohibitive human costs.

The article goes on to list what in the author's estimation are instances of economists acquitting themselves honorably and vindicating their methods.
(1) There is converging evidence that extension of unemployment benefits does not significantly increase unemployment rates.
(2) Randomized experiments show that increasing health insurance coverage increased the availing of healthcare facilities.

Economics maybe an 'early adopter' among the social sciences of what Nicholas Christakis calls 'computational social science', and the op-ed author is optimistic about the potential of Big Data in this regard.
Good Post!

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