I cannot recall if I earlier posted this 2012 essay by Bob Higgs on accusations that academics and pundits who promote policy position X are likely paid to support X by businesses and plutocrats who stand to gain from X . (Whether I posted it here at the Cafe or not, Bob’s essay warrants reposting in light of recent lazy – and groundless – accusations that those of us who question the merits of Thomas Piketty’s work are being paid or prompted to do so by billionaires).
I’ve not yet read this monograph by Catherine Hakim , but I’ll do so soon. Among its chief arguments (as described by the publisher, the Institute of Economic Affairs) is one that leads to the conclusion that decriminalizing the market for sexual services in the U.K. would better protect women. I’ve little doubt that that’s true – and, of course, true in a way that applies to all countries and not just to the U.K.
Even once we had big brains, technology, language and culture, human ancestors spent a few million years stuck in hunter-gathering, before something triggered an explosion of cumulative culture in one sub-species on one part of one continent, Africa, about 200,000 years ago. I have argued before that this step was enabled by the invention of exchange and specialisation, which made us capable of “cloud intelligence” so we could collaboratively build devices too complex for individual minds to comprehend. Only then did we experience rapid cultural evolution and innovate to the point where we could start exploring space.
George Will remembers Robert Conquest (1917-2015) . A slice:
In 1986, Conquest published “The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine ,” his unsparing account of the deliberate starvation of Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, which killed, at a minimum, 7 million people, more than half of them children. At one point, more Ukrainians were dying each day than Jews were to be murdered at Auschwitz at the peak of extermination in the spring of 1944.
Here’s Bob Higgs, on his Facebook page, on the intellectual sloppiness of too many econometricians  – a Facebook post in the comments of which my PhD advisor, Bob Ekelund, wisely recommends Oskar Morgenstern’s great book On the Accuracy of Economic Observations . A slice from Bob H.’s Facebook post:
But econometricians want data, and for many of them any damned data will do, regardless of their substantive suitability for the measurement task at hand.