By Art Carden
I tell people I have the best job in the world: I get paid to read, write, think, and talk about things I find absolutely fascinating. Here are a few things I’ve read recently (or that I’m reading currently):
1. Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise. I’m enjoying books in the loose “applied statistics for everyday life” genre. This is an educated layman’s guide to the dark art of forecasting without getting into the Deep Magicks. Review forthcoming.
2. Christopher J. Coyne, Doing Bad By Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails. Most scholars would love to write just one important book in an entire career. Coyne has written two, and he isn’t even 40 yet (the other is After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy). Just as After War showed that we can’t create liberal democracy at the point of a gun, Doing Bad by Doing Good shows that we can’t sow the dry ground of global poverty with aid dollars, water it with our tears, and expect development. Review forthcoming.
3. Rolf Dobelli, The Art of Thinking Clearly. Dobelli counseled us to Avoid News. In this book, he offers 99 short chapters on different cognitive biases. I’m about 75 pages in, and it’s great so far. I can’t decide yet if it’s a complement to or a substitute for denser and more scholarly books like Thinking, Fast and Slow.
4. James Buchanan and Richard Wagner, Democracy in Deficit: The Political Legacy of Lord Keynes (link to PDF). I refer to the Liberty Fund book rep at conferences as my “dealer;” fortunately, they have also taken many titles and put them online. Like this one, for example, which I assigned in my intermediate macro class. This is an under-appreciated volume in the current climate. If I could summarize in a sentence, it would be this: the effectiveness of fiscal policy will be limited by the constraints imposed by the rent-seeking society.