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Complexity, Spontaneous Order, blah, blah, blah…and Wow

UPDATE: Thanks to the commenters who confirmed the “hostile reactions” thesis while disavowing hostility :>)… By the way, I am surprised nobody has yet mentioned that blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are superb examples of Spontaneous Order.

I was surprised by hostile reactions to mentioning complexity on the Ivory Coast coup debate. Of course, I dish out hostility like water myself, so it’s only fair that I got accused of mindlessly mumbling complexity to sound trendy.


Posted in Economics principles | 29 Comments

No coups please, Professor Collier

UPDATE 10:30AM 1/15: Chris Blattman has a thoughtful response to my blog. The Complexity tribe is still upset that I didn’t do their sacred idea of Complexity justice.

On the Guardian Global Development blog, I tell Paul Collier that he’s crazy to recommend a coup in Cote d’Ivoire. But the use of complexity theory allows me to be very nice about it.

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs, In the news, Meta, Organizational behavior | Tagged , | 24 Comments

The 100 Bestest Global Thinkers

The Foreign Policy magazine ranking of the top 100 Global Thinkers just came out. The rankings can be a bit mysterious, like college football rankings that confuse Texas Christian University with a real football team.

I myself had a two-year run in the top 100 for still unexplained reasons. Alas, a late-season loss to Collier State University doomed my chances this year. I wouldn’t mind as much if there were not way too many…

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs, Big ideas | 12 Comments

Holy Bureaucratic Gibberish, Batman!

This post is by Adam Martin, a post-doctoral fellow at DRI.

On July 1 the Department of Defense rolled out two notable new projects that will undoubtedly inaugurate a new era of peace and safety for the streets of Gotham international community. Even the world’s greatest detective could not have seen this coming.

Like their caped crusader namesakes, the DoD versions of BaTMAN and RoBIN are shrouded in mystery, their real identities…

Posted in Military aid, Organizational behavior | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Getting unstuck from the boring rut of aid debates

This aid debate is starting to sound rehearsed. People really need to move on to different questions, and stop running the same conferences and forums.

This is the very sensible opinion of Chris Blattman on an aid discussion just published in the Yale Journal of International Affairs, which included yours truly and other better people. I am bored as anyone else with endlessly repeating the same arguments, and would dearly love to move…

Posted in Academic research, Organizational behavior | Tagged | 7 Comments

The Niger Coup

Niger just had a coup.

Has Paul Collier decided yet whether to send in foreign troops?

Posted in Grand plans and aid targets | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Bill Clinton for President…of Haiti?

The Economist leader on Haiti:

investment {should}  be targeted on infrastructure, basic services and combating soil erosion to make farmers more productive and the country less vulnerable to hurricanes.

The pressing question is who should do it and how. Haiti’s government is in no position to take charge, yet the country needs a strong government to put it to rights. Paul Collier, a development economist who worked on the plan, reckons that the answer is to

Posted in Disaster relief, In the news | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

The Age of the Development Expert

Foreign Policy magazine just released its top 100 Global Thinkers for 2009. Twelve out of the top 100 were what is loosely called “development experts:”

 Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart (20), Paul Collier (36), Jeffrey Sachs (39), William Easterly (39), Esther Duflo (41), Muhammad Yunus (46), Amartya Sen (58), George Ayittey (76), Paul Farmer (83), Jacqueline Novogratz (85), Andrew Mwenda (98).

 With the obligatory caveats about the more well-deserving who were omitted and questionable rankings,…

Posted in Big ideas | 11 Comments

Why does aid hate critics, while medicine appreciates them?

Two stories ran today in the New York Times that showed the important role of critics in medicine.

In the first, medical researchers found that the usual methods screening for prostate and breast cancer was not as effective as previously advertised. Screening successfully identifies small tumors and the rate of operating to remove such tumors has skyrocketed. But the screening regimen has failed to make much of a dent in the prevalence of large…

Posted in Data and statistics, Global health | 29 Comments

Don’t say colonialism! the debate on Paul Collier


Boston Review has a special issue on Paul Collier’s ideas about how the international community can help “the Bottom Billion,” with some commentators including myself. For the first time, Professor Collier responds to some of the criticisms I have made of his arguments, so this is a good opportunity to see if we can advance the debate.

First, I have to remind those who don’t like debates that they do play a constructive role.…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | 23 Comments