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  • Can Economists Improve the Human Condition? - Adbusters | Journal of the mental environment
    individuals then make the best possible decision out of all available options Not just a good decision but the very best Or as economists like to say optimal There is a whole branch of math devoted to optimal solutions differential calculus It is the ideal tool for a theory stating that individuals behave in a way optimal for them given their tastes and preferences So for example if you eat junk food and weigh 300 pounds as a result or if you drink heavily and destroy your liver or if you smoke and get cancer hey that s your choice You must have been making what you believed to be the best possible lifestyle choice for you and calculus can prove it This is still the basis for a lot of the economics taught in university Yet paradoxically it has been precisely the use of math within economics that has undermined this view of the world It s also a reason why the subject is moving on dramatically Math can be very useful in economics provided that we think of it simply as one tool among many It is a tool that can assist us in logical thinking It s like another language it can help us find our way around Math can be very useful in economics provided that we think of it simply as one tool among many Math has helped economists understand the implications of the economic man theory of behavior After more than a century of research economists determined that the theory is a marvelous intellectual construct but a completely empty box It has no testable implications When economists say demand curves slope downwards or people are paid what they are worth they have no theoretical basis for making these assertions We cannot logically deduce from the theory of economic man behavior that either of these statements both widely used by economists are true Pioneers like the 2001 Nobel laureates George Akerlof and Joseph Stiglitz moved the subject on in the 1970s They realized something else was needed so they abandoned the idea that people have perfect information when they make decisions They developed the concept of bounded rationality the idea that though we may try to make the best decision we may not succeed due to a lack of vital information So in a world of bound rationality people who binge on junk food or smoke heavily are not necessarily seen as making the best possible decision for themselves The work of Akerlof and Stiglitz was a huge step forward in making economics more realistic Daniel Kahneman and Vernon Smith the 2002 Nobel winners made even bigger strides with their work They actually went out into the world and conducted experiments to see how people really do behave Observing and deducing just like real scientists And they found that most of the time people don t behave like the economic man at all In his Nobel lecture Kahneman stated The central characteristic of agents people

    Original URL path: http://www.adbusters.org/article/can-economists-improve-the-human-condition/ (2016-02-09)
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  • White Flags, Author at Adbusters | Journal of the mental environment
    anyone who still has illusions about the relationship between the two disciplines The Economics Textbook of the 21st Century November 9 2007 by White Flags Tags The old economics view of the world in which everyone acts purely in his or her own self interest in which free markets are the solution to almost everything has been abandoned But in order to actually change public policy first we have to

    Original URL path: http://www.adbusters.org/author/white-flags/ (2016-02-09)
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  • The New Spirit of Economics - Adbusters | Journal of the mental environment
    driven exact science like physics Now the old guard is under attack by students and scientists from other disciplines for its profound disconnect from reality The logic freaks of neoclassical economics are in retreat the old certitudes are crumbling Economists are being forced to admit that their understanding of nonlinear real world systems is frail at best and that their abstract models have limited value Everything from banking financial regulation and credit right down to the bedrock fundamentals growth freedom happiness progress are now being rethought The profession is entering an almost Nietzschean period of creative destruction Here are some of the tectonic mindshifts now underway A theoretical shift from free market back to Keynesian economics The idea that governments should step aside and let markets regulate themselves has been publicly viscerally discredited An aesthetic shift in the tone style and spirit of economics The abstract number cruncher alone in his tower lost in the abstraction of models that dusty Apollonian archetype is dead An operational shift After years of self imposed isolation economists are finding inspiration in psychology environmental science design philosophy and art An existential shift Before last year s meltdown it was considered heresy to question the wisdom of growth Now economists are coming out of the closet and doing exactly that openly proclaiming infinite growth cannot be sustained on a finite planet This is the most far reaching penetrating paradigm shift imaginable a monumental mindshift on par with what Einstein s relativity did to physics It points to what is perhaps the most exciting and intractable problem of our time how to create a sustainble economy that does not feed off nature It heralds the beginning of a debate that will occupy the best minds on the planet for centuries to come How to manage our

    Original URL path: http://www.adbusters.org/article/the-new-spirit-of-economics-2/ (2016-02-09)
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  • #85 Archives - Page 3 of 3 - Adbusters | Journal of the mental environment
    2009 Lourdes Benería by adbusters Lourdes Benería is a professor of gender and economic development at Cornell University and the author of Gender Development and Globalization Economics as if People Mattered Her research centers on feminist economics labor markets July 15 2009 Herman Daly by adbusters Herman Daly is one of the founders of the interdisciplinary field of ecological economics Formerly a senior economist for the World Bank he moved

    Original URL path: http://www.adbusters.org/tag/85/page/3/ (2016-02-09)
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  • Apocalypto-Nihilism - Adbusters | Journal of the mental environment
    prolific class of scholars wreathed in medals and PhDs have led us so far astray How could they not see that every product in the global marketplace was valued incorrectly and that every purchase pushed us deeper into the cosmic red And how could they like villagers with their backs to Vesuvius simply keep counting the money while the end drew so ominously near Culprit 2 would be the unholy alliance of commercialism and communication which transformed our information delivery systems into tools of mass merchandizing Why did we allow a cavalry of marketing hits to assail our minds every minute of every day each of them telling us the same lie that to live is to consume and to consume is to live Culprit 3 would be the corporation or rather the way we abdicated our reason and endowed it with the legal rights of a human being In doing so we created more than a person we created a living monolith stronger than any man and impervious to all assault A supreme being who once animated could never ever be stopped Now imagine the power of three incidents of collective recognition Three mass aha moments in which we identify our fatal system errors and fix them preempting the ultimate crash First we break the unholy alliance of commercialism and communication and clean up the toxic areas of our mental commons then we design a global marketplace in which the price of every product tells the ecological truth and finally we kill the corporate I and get capitalism bubbling from the bottom up again Are we capable of such meta level systems tinkering Can we pull this thing off FROM Adbusters 84 Nihilism and Revolution Order this issue Subscribe to Adbusters Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest Personal Veiled Reality Also

    Original URL path: http://www.adbusters.org/article/apocalypto-nihilism/ (2016-02-09)
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  • The Creative Destruction of G8 Economics - Adbusters | Journal of the mental environment
    establishment of a Political Economy Department Were it not for student protests the non neoclassical staff at Sydney University would have had no chance at all of changing that department And though we won that battle at Sydney University we lost the war The economic downturn of the mid 1970s allowed for the defeat of what Joan Robinson aptly called Bastard Keynesianism and ushered in its replacement Friedman s monetarism Our protests were also wrongly characterized as being essentially anti capitalist Though there were indeed many anti capitalists within the political economy movement the real target of student protest was a poor theory of how capitalism operates not capitalism itself Similar observations can be made about the paecon movement which began when student dissatisfaction with neoclassical economics in France spilled and ignited a worldwide movement Though the movement s initial impact was substantial neoclassical dominance of economic pedagogy continued unabated paecon persisted but its relevance to the real economy wasn t appreciated because that economy appeared to be booming Now that the global economy is in crisis students need to regroup and pounce they need to apply massive pressure in order to ensure that real change to economic pedagogy occurs Pressure from business groups is also essential To some degree these groups naively believe that those who herald the virtues of the market system and argue on the side of business in disputes over income distribution are their allies while market critics are their enemies I hope that this financial catastrophe will convince the business community that its true friends in the academy are those who understand the market system whether they criticize or praise it As much as we need students to revolt over the teaching of economics we need business to bring pressure on academic economics departments to revise their curricula Changing Economics The pedagogic pressure from students and the wider community has to be matched by the accelerated development of alternatives to neoclassical economics Though we know much more today about the innate flaws in neoclassical thought than was known at the time of the Great Depression the development of an alternative is still a long way off There are multiple alternative schools of thought extant from post Keynesian economics to evolutionary economics to behavioral economics to econophysics but they re not yet developed to the point of providing a fully fledged alternative to neoclassical economics But the fact that we do not yet have a viable alternative shouldn t dissuade us from dispensing completely with the neoclassical approach We have to accept a period of turmoil and uncertainty in order to overcome flawed theory Hanging on to parts of a failed paradigm simply because it has components that other schools lack would be a tragic mistake It is from precisely such relics that a neoclassical vision could once again rise when or if the market economy emerges from this crisis We need a rejection of neoclassical microeconomics in its entirety An all encompassing rejection was precisely

    Original URL path: http://www.adbusters.org/article/the-creative-destruction-of-g8-economics/ (2016-02-09)
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  • The End of Philosophy - Adbusters | Journal of the mental environment
    on any subject but they never apply their timeless wisdom to reality Instead of rigorously debating the problems of today my professors lull the class to sleep with lackluster lectures on trivial topics Do I possess a priori knowledge What is the form of me Am I a thinking thing Let s be honest being lost in the clouds never saved a child from starvation and it never will My grades are determined by how well I can regurgitate uninspiring thoughts I had a class last year for example which covered modern philosophy One of our main subjects was Descartes Meditations on First Philosophy We found several flaws in Descartes arguments but instead of constructing our arguments against his conclusions we were forced to merely summarize them Such mediocrity and mental garbage drives me to one simple conclusion philosophy is extinct If we are to believe that philosophy is some guy s opinion then we have forgotten the essence of philosophy Philosophy is the touchstone of all progress We must remember that philosophy is the purest form of dissent If we do not ask questions if we do not question authority if we do not pressure ourselves then society will never advance All progress comes from change and philosophers used to be the backbone of change Whether we go back thousands of years to Socrates corrupting the youth or more recently to Bertrand Russell s condemnation of the Vietnam War it is obvious that philosophers used to take a stand against a callous system Now they simply summarize and overanalyze all the irrelevant aspects of life This magnificent philosophy program I have experienced is a glorified course in writing book reports Philosophy has been badgered to death by dogmatic opinions and shallow thoughts What happened to just thinking What happened

    Original URL path: http://www.adbusters.org/article/the-end-of-philosophy/ (2016-02-09)
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  • Thinking the Unthinkable - Adbusters | Journal of the mental environment
    struggle to survive People lose their jobs and sometimes their homes A spiral of recession looms Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics idealists and revolutionaries But question it we must The myth of growth has failed us It has failed the two billion people who still live on less than 2 a day It has failed the fragile ecological systems we depend on for survival It has failed spectacularly in its own terms to provide economic stability and secure people s livelihoods Today we find ourselves faced with the imminent end of the era of cheap oil the prospect beyond the recent bubble of steadily rising commodity prices the degradation of forests lakes and soils conflicts over land use water quality and fishing rights and the momentous challenge of stabilizing concentrations of carbon in the global atmosphere And we face these tasks with an economy that is fundamentally broken in desperate need of renewal In these circumstances a return to business as usual is not an option Prosperity for the few founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilized society Economic recovery is vital Protecting people s jobs and creating new ones is absolutely essential But we also stand in urgent need of a renewed sense of shared prosperity A commitment to fairness and flourishing in a finite world Delivering these goals may seem an unfamiliar or even incongruous task for policy in the modern age The role of government has been framed so narrowly by material aims and hollowed out by a misguided vision of unbounded consumer freedoms The concept of governance itself stands in urgent need of renewal But the current economic crisis presents us with a unique opportunity to invest in change To sweep away the short

    Original URL path: http://www.adbusters.org/article/thinking-the-unthinkable/ (2016-02-09)
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