I’ve finished Paul Ormerod’s very enjoyable new book Positive Linking: How Networks Can Revolutionise The World. As I’ll be reviewing it for the next issue of The Business Economist, I’m not going to write a full review here. But here are two rather interesting points Paul makes, more or less in passing.
“The ‘real’ of Real Business Cycle Theory signifies that recessions are caused by ‘real’ factors such as productivity and rational behaviour by agents. ‘Real’ is juxtaposed to ‘nominal’, nominal factors being such obviously irrelevant concepts as money, credit and debt!” (p115)
This is both a slightly low blow, because we all know the difference between technical and normal usage, and also at the same time gave me (and the dog…) pause for thought.
The second point is a section about how ideas spread, the evidence suggesting that the media have only a mild influence on public opinion. Paul writes:
“For many sociologists and media studies academics, the idea that the mass media lack this power is unacceptable, regardless of the fact that the empirical evidence points towards it…..How can it be possible that people in general do not subscribe to the views of the liberal elite, which are so self-evidently correct? They must obviously have been brainwashed.” (p186)
That made me laugh. (For the avoidance of doubt, that last bit should have been printed in my proposed new type face, ‘ironics’, which will slope backwards, as italics slopes forwards.)