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Apparently not a big fan…

Easterly’s pointless echo chamber

Maybe I’m being too harsh on professor Easterly. Wait, no I’m not. He becomes petulant when anyone from a fellow blogger to a large multilateral organization doesn’t immediately respond to his criticisms, yet he often ignores the most knowledgeable and thoughtful of his own critics….

Posted in Aid, Bloggers, Blogging, Development, Stupidity

February 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Written by transitionland

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  1. RJS wrote:

    Don’t take it personally. That girl whines about everything. The two of you have a lot in common.

    Posted February 21, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  2. Loretta wrote:

    I went through and read all the posts where she complains that you don’t respond to her pal Matthias, and to be honest I was a bit puzzled by her criticism. In all those posts you had many commentators and the discussion seemed to be between all of them – I didn’t get the sense that a reply from Easterly was required. As for her complaints about the Afghan post, I thought that was one of the stupidest whinges I’ve ever heard – she complains that the NYT’s article that EASTERLY WAS MOCKING was incorrect in its portrayal of Afghan society. Duh, maybe that was why he was mocking it?? (And I say this as someone who works in Afghanistan in development and who has been often solicited on my views by Easterly before he decides to opine on something there – he doesn’t just spew uneducated thoughts without doing his homework.) I’ve not followed Transitionland, and after reading these petty comments of hers, I’m not inclined to start.

    Posted February 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  3. Loretta,

    Go read Easterly’s Afghanistan “nation-building” posts before that. I SERIOUSLY doubt he was mocking the article because he thought it was incorrect. His Afghanistan commentary follows a consistent pattern. Compare the post in question ( with these:




    Posted February 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  4. Nadir wrote:

    I’m still waiting for her to approve my followup comment on her blog, but suffice it to say, her entire post was illogical, mendacious, and petty.

    You really should not be giving as much prominence to her “critique” as you have here. Her responses to you are laughable.

    Posted February 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  5. I don’t think these criticisms are 100% accurate or phrased in the most helpful manner, but you hardly disprove her by posting links under snarky headlines. Why not prove her wrong and show when you have addressed critics of your approach on Afghanistan, or when you did modify your views in response to good points made?

    Posted February 22, 2010 at 1:28 am | Permalink
  6. Matthias wrote:

    Why not prove her wrong and show when you have addressed critics of your approach on Afghanistan, or when you did modify your views in response to good points made?

    Well , I’d like to see him do that too. At least with respect to Afghanistan, since in human rights and development issues, Bill has been remarkably unresponsive. If you read through those posts and comments, you will see that a lot of people — both in favor, or critical of Bill’s position — were stating that they would like to see him respond to his critics. I would have greatly enjoyed being rebutted on substance, for it would help me frame my own views on the issue too…

    I think Transitionland has a point about Bill’s lack of responsiveness to critics, and his overall negative attitude, or snarkiness. Don’t take her word for it: just go read the “evaluation” of the blog that Bill carried out… many readers complained of the lack of ‘what works’stories, of his snarkiness, etc.

    Posted February 22, 2010 at 6:24 am | Permalink
  7. Nadir Q wrote:

    Transitionland has been irrationally complaining about Easterly not responding to random tweets and blog commentators, and yet I wrote a followup comment on her blog and she never approved it. Obviously, it’s her blog her right, but you gotta love the sanctimonious hypocrisy of it all.

    And Una, those links are a joke. Is that seriously the best you can muster as your final defense?
    Here’s the post that I tried to send to Transitionland’s blog entry:

    “Una: Do I think foreigners can “build Afghanistan”? No. Can they help Afghans rebuild it? Yes, and that is what Afghans say they want every time they are asked”

    A more pressing issue is whether foreigners are even capable of allowing Afghans to rebuild their society. I would argue, that as long as Afghanistan is framed as a battleground for the War on Drugs and War on Terror, US interests and Afghan civilian interests will always collide.

    ““Our simplistic approach to the country.” Whose approach? Foreign involvement in Afghanistan is many things, comes from many sources, and answers to many different authorities.”

    I think it’s pretty clear that the US government has laid out a specific policy with regards to Afghanistan, so when I say “our” I mean “our government”. Are you really denying that the US has laid out an approach to Afghanistan or were you just once again playing the pedant?

    “me: I have to say, this is coming across more and more as a “gotcha” game and not as intellectual discourse.”

    your response on twitter: “LOVE the one who accuses me of playing gotcha at the expense of intellectual discourse”

    You really do come across as petulant and immature when it comes to Easterly. The way you framed this post, hell the way you continuously built this issue up on twitter, was spiteful and insincere. Bill doesn’t need to understand the ins and outs of Afghanistan’s society in order to critique “our” (and just so we’re really clear, when I say “our” I mean the US gov’t) our approach is flawed and naive.

    In fact, if anything, the fact that that graphic isn’t representative of the way Afghanistan really works, just makes Bill’s point that much more salient. If the most prestigious newspaper in the US doesn’t get the country, who’s to say our policymakers can?

    Hell, I’m Pathan/Pushton, and I don’t understand much of it. Fortunately, I don’t pretend to know what’s best for the country or the people there, I just know what doesn’t work and what hasn’t been working.

    And that lack of knowledge and that confusion is precisely Bill’s point.

    Which you would’ve seen if you weren’t so rabidly against him.

    Please don’t give this person any more blog time, Bill. She is incredibly disingenuous and manipulative.

    Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  8. Nadir,

    I’ve been violently ill all day and just saw your response. Approving it now.

    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink
  9. William Easterly wrote:

    Transitionland, condolences on your illness. I know from experience that being sick far from home really sucks.

    I am traveling the next 2 days, but plan to respond to your critique after I get back.

    all the best, Bill

    Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  • About Aid Watch

    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

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