Friday, November 27, 2015

Noah Smith — A big sweeping theory of modern history

I like big sweeping theories although I would not say they are "theories" in the scientific sense since as Noah observes they are not testable.

Rather these kinds of explanation are frameworks on which to hang explanation of past events in terms of patterns that may reflect some consistency in human behavior, even through contingency plays a greater role in history than determinism.

If this is your thing, it's worth a read even through Noah is an amateur in this field. But he is highly intelligent, well-informed and understands modeling, so his contribution is worth considering.

It's just an outline that would need to be worked out, but there is a solid basis for it in political economy as a major historical factor. It's an interesting excursion into linking historical cycles with economic cycles.

It's also a good sign that at least some pretty mainstream economists are looking out the window and thinking out of the box. I hope it gets some notice and gets others thinking about such matters.

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