Monday, July 17, 2017

MacLean 2

This MacLean thing would be a very alarming insight into academia if it were not so much fun. This is from a letter to the WSJ:

An unintentionally comical example of MacLean’s ignorance of the basic facts of her subject matter appears in an interview that she gave in an interview at Alternet.  There, she asserted that by naming his and Alex Tabarrok’s blog "Marginal Revolution,” my colleague Tyler Cowen was “gesturing” to a devious right-wing scheme to slowly undermine democracy.  In fact, the term "marginal revolution” refers to one of the most celebrated episodes in the history of economics – namely, economists’ discovery in the 1870s that the economic value of a good or service is determined not by the amount of labor used to produce that good or service but, instead, by the usefulness to human beings of an additional unit – a “marginal” unit – of that good or service.  This discovery of the importance of “marginal” changes led economists to the more general understanding that thriving societies seldom change radically, in giant leaps, but instead gradually, as small change upon small change accumulate over time.
MacLean’s suggestion that an economist’s use of the term “marginal revolution” refers to a nefarious modern American political plot is no less ridiculous than had she suggested that a physicist’s use of the term “Newtonian revolution” refers to a plot to stuff all cookies with filling made of figs.

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