Ten Tips For Doing Open Science

June 23, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Science is the quintessential public good. It’s an iterative process in which new knowledge builds on previous knowledge. For this process to work, science needs to be ‘open’. Both the results and methods of scientific research need to be freely available for all. The open science movement … Read more

Productivity Does Not Explain Wages

June 14, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Does productivity explain income? I asked this question in a previous post. My answer was a bombastic no. In this post, I’ll dig deeper into the reasons that productivity doesn’t explain income. I’ll focus on wages. The evidence Let’s start with the evidence trumpeted as proof that … Read more

The Tyranny of Meritocracy

June 6, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Like many Canadians, I grew up with a faith in meritocracy. Do your best, I believed, and the world would reward you. In school, this idea seemed self-evidently true. I worked hard, and was rewarded with good grades and praise from teachers. And those students who didn’t … Read more

Has Wealth Gone Digital?

May 27, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. A revolution is underway around us and it’s called the digital. And it’s changing everything. More than 80% of wealth is now non-material. — Charles Foran in Just don’t say his name: the modern left on Karl Marx’s place in politics (41:30) Has wealth gone digital? Both … Read more

An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 3)

March 1, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. When it comes to earning income in a hierarchy, it’s not what you know that matters. It’s who you control. This was the provocative idea that I proposed in Part 2 of this series on an evolutionary theory of resource distribution. In this post, I put this … Read more

An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 2)

February 21, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. A 25% chance. That’s the likelihood that when I tell someone I’m searching for a job, they’ll say: Remember, Blair … to land a job, it’s not what you know that matters. It’s who you know. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating this chance. Still, it’s an open secret … Read more

An Evolutionary Theory of Resource Distribution (Part 1)

February 15, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. The biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. I propose a corollary in economics: nothing in economics makes sense except in the light of human social evolution. [1] I explore here how the evolution of human sociality … Read more

Tribalism in Science (and Economics)

February 10, 2020

If you ask the average person what ‘science’ is, they’ll probably answer something like ‘it’s what we know about the world’. To the lay person, ‘science’ is a body of facts. To the trained scientist, however, ‘science’ means something different. It’s not a body of knowledge. It’s a method for determining what’s true and what’s … Read more

A Reading List For Economic Heretics

February 3, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Do you think that the discipline of economics is a sham — an ideology masquerading as science? If so, here is a reading list for you. These 10 books have influenced my thinking over the years. Read them and join me in the journey of the economic … Read more

When Inequality Increases and Decreases at the Same Time

January 25, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. In Problems With Measuring Inequality, I discussed how inequality is an ambiguous concept. The problem, in short, is that a single metric can never capture every aspect of a distribution of income. Much like we cannot tell the shape of an object from its perimeter or area, … Read more

No, Productivity Does Not Explain Income

January 17, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. Did you hear the joke about the economists who tested their theory by defining it to be true? Oh, I forgot. It’s not a joke. It’s standard practice among mainstream economists. They propose that productivity explains income. And then they ‘test’ this idea by defining productivity in … Read more

Rethinking Causation in the Social Sciences

January 11, 2020

Originally published on Economics from the Top Down. For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about causation in the social sciences. As with many instances of reflection, this was prompted by rejection. A political economy journal recently rejected a paper that I had submitted. The paper (available here) studied the correlation between hierarchical power … Read more