Archive for December, 2007

The current Economist (19 December) has an article savaging those who romanticise hunter-gatherer societies. It argues against the view put forward by the likes of Jared Diamond that the development of agriculture was the worst mistake in human history. Evidently in the 1970s some experts began to argue that the advent of agriculture led to […]

The World Bank’s World Development Report 2009 will focus on the economic geography of development. To quote the World Bank’s page on the report: “The objective of the World Development Report (WDR) 2009 is to identify and understand the interactions between geography, economic activities, and living standards, and to draw the implications of these interactions […]

By coincidence a review by Helene Guldberg on spiked echoes the points made in my 22 December post. She reviews Shyness by Christopher Lane, a Chicago-based research professor, which evidently shows how the definition of mental illness has widened considerably. Once again this broadening definition is reflected in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental […]

Paul Krugman has written a dispatch on his blog counter-attacking the criticisms against him in the Economist (see 21 December post). His main points: “Inequality denial generally involves four dodges — all four of which are present in this article. “First is a narrow technical issue — the misuse of the Consumer Expenditure Survey, which […]

Will Wilkinson has reviewed a useful-sounding book in the December issue of Reason which rejects the view that material abundance is causing higher levels of depression. Allan V Horwitz and Jerome C Wakefield’s The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder (Oxford University Press) is a polemic against the arguments on […]

The special double holiday issue of the Economist (22 December) includes a piece on inequality which is essentially a rebuttal to Paul Krugman. In his recent book, The Conscience of a Liberal, the New York Times columnist and Princeton professor emphasises widening income inequalities in America. The Economist concedes they are widening but argues they […]

Steve Salerno, the author of SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless (Crown, 2005), has an interesting article on the “happiness myth” in today’s Wall Street Journal. It discusses how the “pursuit of happiness” has become an American obsession. He is not talking about the term in the sense used by America’s Founding Fathers […]

Lester Brown, one of the doyens of environmentalism, excels himself in miserabilism in a missive entitled “Santa Claus is Chinese” (apparently first published in 2006 but emailed out today). After complaining about how many Christmas goods are made in China, and the fact Americans are willing to go into debt to pay for them, he […]

William Easterly, perhaps the world’s best-known conservative development economist, has written a critique of the millennium development goals (MDGs) as they apply to Africa. In his view the goals are constructed in an arbitrary way which leads to an underestimation of Africa’s development progress. For example, the 1990s was a bad decade for Africa yet, […]

spiked has run two particularly interesting articles on energy over the past couple of days. Both show how the irrational character of environmentalism leads to arbitrary distinctions. For example, Rob Johnston, a freelance science writer, argues that: “Try to sink one 15,000 tonne oil platform in the North Sea (as Shell attempted with the Brent […]