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Good bad theories

Chris Dillow / April 20, 2018 at 12:48 PM 54 views

In 1945 George Orwell wrote an essay on good bad books – “the kind of book that has no literary pretensions but which remains readable when more serious productions have perished.” He gave as examples the Sherlock Holmes stories. Uncle…

Facts vs hand-waving in economics

Chris Dillow / April 19, 2018 at 12:33 PM 69 views

On Twitter this morning Jason Smith asked a good question. Is this, he asked, an “anonymous blog comment from a simpleton? ... Or analysis from a prominent financial economics professor?”: A company has $100 in cash, and $100 profitable factory.…

On thin predictions

Chris Dillow / April 18, 2018 at 12:51 PM 63 views

Back in 2016 I wrote that “immigration controls will hurt decent people…because they are the softest targets.” Paul Cotterill interprets this as meaning that I saw the Windrush scandal coming. I think he’s being too kind, but this illustrates an…

The Windrush scandal: myths exposed

Chris Dillow / April 17, 2018 at 12:14 PM 82 views

The appalling spectacle of Windrush generation immigrants being hounded and deported should help to dispel two great myths about politics. Myth one is that racism is confined to the “white working class”. Of course, some of these have backward attitudes…

Syria: the knowledge problem

Chris Dillow / April 13, 2018 at 12:45 PM 111 views

There’s a danger that the question of whether we should intervene in Syria is becoming a left-right issue. Not only is this false, it’s a means of (deliberately?) ignoring the basic issue – one that is much more general than…

The Tyranny of Metrics: a review

Chris Dillow / April 11, 2018 at 1:15 PM 93 views

Measurements can mislead us, especially when they are used as management targets. That’s the thesis of Jerry Muller’s The Tyranny of Metrics. He writes: What can be measured is not always what is worth measuring; what gets measured may have…

Politics as risk management

Chris Dillow / April 10, 2018 at 12:40 PM 101 views

There’s one point about politics which seems to me to be childishly obvious but which is under-appreciated, and which helps illuminate a number of policy issues. It’s that we don’t live in a wholly knowable deterministic world in which setting…

On socialized preferences

Chris Dillow / April 9, 2018 at 1:38 PM 101 views

I recently wrote approvingly of SImone de Beauvoir’s claim that “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”. “Feminine” preferences such as a lack of pushiness and tendency not to study maths and science might, I said, be socialized ones rather than…

Thoughts on the gender pay gap

Chris Dillow / April 5, 2018 at 12:38 PM 131 views

What do gender pay gaps tell us? Here are some of my thoughts. My table shows the data, taken from the latest ASHE survey. This shows that the median woman working full-time earns 9.7% less than the median full-time male…

Inequality and poverty

Chris Dillow / April 3, 2018 at 12:54 PM 117 views

Headteachers say that children are going to school malnourished. How can we reconcile this with the fact that official figures show that inequality has been, in Chris Giles’ words, “remarkably stable” since the early 90s?  Very simply. The evidence that…

Power without conspiracies

Chris Dillow / March 31, 2018 at 12:22 PM 116 views

On Twitter this morning Sam Freedman asked “whether it's possible to see politics as entirely about power structures without eventually thinking conspiratorially?” I think it is. There are (at least) three elements here. The first is that capitalism is an…

Irrelevant IQ research

Chris Dillow / March 30, 2018 at 1:03 PM 109 views

There’s been an unedifying row between Ezra Klein and Sam Harris about race, IQ and genes. I’m not sure this gets to the nub of the matter. To see my point, let’s assume that the most provocative claims made by…

The socialism of moralizing fools

Chris Dillow / March 27, 2018 at 12:55 PM 117 views

How can the Labour party have gotten into such a mess that it can be credibly accused of anti-Semitism? An under-appreciated part of the answer, I suspect, lies in the fact it is dangerous for politics to be seen as…

"The country"

Chris Dillow / March 22, 2018 at 1:51 PM 166 views

On the Today programme yesterday Justin Webb asked Yvette Cooper: [do] “you think Jeremy Corbyn will keep this country safe?” (1’57” in). From one perspective, the question is utterly absurd, because what is jeopardizing the country is not Corbyn but…

The free speech dilemma

Chris Dillow / March 21, 2018 at 1:55 PM 157 views

What role should social pressure play in the policing of free speech? Two things I’ve seen recently pose this question. One is the racist harassment of Rufaro Chisango at Nottingham Trent University. I like to think that in better places…

The illusion of knowledge

Chris Dillow / March 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM 201 views

More information does not mean that we make better decisions, or even good ones. Some laboratory evidence for this comes from some experiments (pdf) at Princeton. Alexander Todorov and colleagues asked subjects to predict the results of basketball games. Half…

Getting away with murder

Chris Dillow / March 6, 2018 at 1:30 PM 212 views

Simon reminds us of the massive costs of fiscal austerity: not just a loss of around £10,000 per household, but tens of thousands of deaths, despair for millions of victims of a harsh benefits system, and the economic cost and…

Labour: the party of business?

Chris Dillow / February 27, 2018 at 1:51 PM 124 views

Is Labour now the party of business? This is the question posed by the fact that the CBI has endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s support for the UK to be part of a customs union with the EU. I know, I know.…

Hired: a review

Chris Dillow / February 21, 2018 at 1:39 PM 188 views

For some time, I’ve asked that journalists leave the Westminster Bubble and look instead at ground truth. I’m delighted, therefore, that James Bloodworth has done just this. His latest book, Hired, describes his experiences of working on low wages –…

Brexit: an unending dream

Chris Dillow / February 1, 2018 at 1:46 PM 190 views

Simon says Brexit is a fantasy: There is nothing about the case for Brexit that is based in reality. This is why everything Brexiters say is either nonsense or untrue. This poses the question: will they ever acknowledge reality? I’m…