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Category Archives: Meta

We interrupt this diatribe for a brief kindly announcement

There’s been a lot to get outraged about on Aid Watch this week. World Bank leader calls for democratizing research while censoring research. USAID and NGOs urge transparency while egregiously non-transparent. Critics criticize our criticism of FAO hunger numbers that turn out to be even worse than we first suggested.

Our strongest supporters correctly point out that excessively bland and polite statements have little effect on the debate compared to outrage, and outrage is often…

9 Comments

Turning over Aid Watch management for a week

Dear Aid Watchers,

Both Laura and I are away for a week starting today.

I am cutting off the Internet entirely for a week in a bid to regain my sanity, so anything addressed to me in any Net medium (email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comments) I will not see for a week.

In the absence of Laura and I, DRI post-doc Adam Martin has generously agreed to take over as Guest Editor for a week, beginning with…

2 Comments

Aid Watch addresses an unexpected embarrassing problem

We’ve noticed a strange phenomenon on Aid Watch: our April 10, 2010 post Famine Africa stereotype porn shows no letup has also shown the least letup of any of our posts, showing up with traffic day after day. It is now the fourth most popular post of all time on Aid Watch. I was rather slow to figure out what was going on, which just shows what being raised as a Methodist in squeaky-clean…

15 Comments

Why the world needs independent aid critics: the video

Easterly talks with the John Templeton Foundation on the need for independent aid critics to challenge the mainstream development industry,  and how successful development actually happens.

Also posted in Big ideas | 4 Comments

Aid Watch comes clean on unethical product placement in our blogs

The New York Times called my attention today to ethical problems with blogs that do product placement, such as shilling for a certain brand of vodka without disclosing gifts from Absolut:

a blogger must be clear about any “material connections” with a sponsor, especially if these would not be expected by the reader.

My reaction was “wow, I had no idea we could make money that way!” Given the pathetic results of my fund-raising efforts so…

7 Comments

When you might want a skeptic…

UPDATE 3:41pm June 7: see end of post.

I am a passenger in a car with my friend Owen driving…we’re chatting.

Me: did you see that sign? I think we better turn around.

Owen: why are you always so negative!?

Me: but the sign said…

Owen: if people listen to you skeptics, there’ll be no more funding for roads.

Me: I just think this time that…

Owen: why are you so negative when us drivers work

Also posted in Language | 42 Comments

How the audience educates the lecturer: skepticism and freedom

On Wednesday night I gave a lecture at LSE called “We Don’t Know How to Solve Global Poverty and That’s a Good Thing.”

The abstract I wrote beforehand was:

This lecture argues that occasions when development economists were more certain about ‘the solution to global poverty’ have often led to harmful consequences for the world’s poor in the long-run. Sceptical criticism is a creative force that redirects attention and effort away from centrally-directed expert

Also posted in Big ideas, Democracy and freedom | 25 Comments

Inequality does cause underdevelopment: insights from a new instrument

Consistent with the provocative hypothesis of Engerman and Sokoloff (1997, 2000), this paper confirms with cross-country data that agricultural endowments predict inequality and inequality predicts development. The use of agricultural endowments –specifically the abundance of land suitable for growing wheat relative to that suitable for growing sugarcane — as an instrument for inequality is this paper’s approach to problems of measurement and endogeneity of inequality. The paper finds inequality also affects other development outcomes –

Also posted in Academic research | 5 Comments

Video of talks by Chris Blattman, others, and yours truly

Videos from Yale Law School Bernstein Symposium on Human Rights a couple weeks ago: Chris Blattman, Gregg Gonsalves (big attack on W. Easterly), Michael Kleinman

Keynote talk (something about  double standards on human rights) by another somebody calling themself  William Easterly.

Also posted in Human rights | Tagged | 6 Comments

Aid agencies announce they will be accountable to independent evaluators; This blog to permanently close

IRINA News, April 1, 2010

Geneva, Switzerland—A coalition of aid agencies meeting in Geneva today announced a historic agreement to reform the international aid system. In signing the agreement, heads of aid agencies formally committed to accept the verdicts of independent evaluators of the programs and projects in their portfolios.

The new measures require the 39 multilateral and bilateral aid agencies to scale up only those programs with a proven track record of success. Programs

Also posted in Metrics and evaluation, Satire and parodies | Tagged | 8 Comments