On 13 February 2014 I had the honour of giving a lecture at the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) in London on ‘The True Cost of Economics’. You can find audio podcasts, including the Q&A, and downloadable video on the RSA’s website.
Never able to resist a cheap entry, here’s a short comment piece in the Guardian’s Comment is Free, about the notion of Relationshopping – see very amusing comment below the line – and what psychological science can tell us about the limits of relationship prediction.
Coverage in the Sundays – a game of two halves. First of all, a pretty hostile review from Stephanie Flanders, former BBC Economics Editor and now JP Morgan Chief Strategist, in the Sunday Times. Here’s a pdf of the review: I Spend Therefore I Am, Sunday Times, 16th Feb. Flanders’ main complaint is that I take too broad a view of economics – well, that’s made clear throughout the book. ‘The true cost of calculatively rational, profit seeking, technical valuation methods derived from economic’s wouldn’t have made such a good title. She claims that we need instrumental rationality in, for example, the health service – granted, we do, but we need other forms of value, democratically discussed, as well. And she argues that we have choice. We do indeed, but what’s of interest is how these choices are made: we aren’t just ‘brains in jars’, as they say in science studies.
On the better side, four stars in the Sunday Sport. The review concludes, ‘Loads of economists are queueing up to slag this book off, which alone makes it an economically sound buy’. Nuff said. The review here:
On Wednesday 12 February, I stopped into the offices of Times Higher Education to meet Karen Shook, the paper’s book editor, and to record a books podcast. Karen has a very disarming way about her, and soon had me holding forth on all sorts of things: the limits of social science and the menace of Freakanomics, most of all. The podcast, available here, accompanies a very generous review and placed I Spend Therefore I Am as book of the week. Thank you Karen and all at THE!
On 11 February I gave a lecture at the LSE, in the splendid Hong Kong lecture theatre. It was part of the public lecture series and quite an honour to be listed in the same programme as some of the great lights of global social science. I chose the provocative title ‘Economics, the enemy?’ and the hall was packed – yes, they were turning people away at the door. The podcast is now available, and you can listen to it here. As you can hear that quite clearly in the recording it was a tough audience, but the questions were excellent and I had some good feedback afterwards.
I celebrated publication day with this interview on BBC News’ Meet the Author, hosted by the delightful Nick Higham. It’s available on iplayer until 12 February, and you can find it here. Otherwise, here’s the two of us in full flow.
More mentions of my book in the Saturday papers (2 February 2014). A short but upbeat review in The Times, says ‘simple economics becomes complex moral and political philosophy’, and called me a ‘management guru’. Well, maybe one day. Meanwhile, in the Independent, the economist Vicky Pryce takes me to task, although she does conclude that it is a ‘readable and entertaining’ book, which is also fine by me! You can find the Independent review here.
The first reviews of I Spend Therefore I Am have hit the news stands! They’re both written by philosophers, and I was pretty pleased with them, although they don’t give me an easy ride! The conservative thinker Roger Scruton writes at length in Prospect magazine, which you can find here or on this pdf (Prospect Feb 2014 Scruton), and academic philosopher Edward Skidelski, author of How Much is Enough, reviews my book in the Guardian, here.
On Thursday evening I caught up with my old friends at BBC Radio Three with an interview on Free Thinking: how Channel Four’s (atrocious) Benefits Street has become the centrepiece for a battle over welfare payments and the (un)deserving poor. I followed a column by another former New Generation Thinker, the Oxford historian Jonathan Healey, who told us how these voyeuristic rogues galleries of the ‘idle poor’ go right back to the 16th century. You can listen to the show here: Jonathan and I get the last 15 minutes or so.