Herb Gintis has now posted 231 reviews to Amazon. He has something to anger everybody.
Here he describes Jerry Cohen as a "supporter of virtually unsupportable Marxian doctrines" and having "studied ignorance of standard social and psychological theory."
He gives only two stars to Keen's Debunking Economics because, according to Gintis, it attacks a straw person. Mainstream economics is not as depicted by Keen, only undergraduate teaching is. "Abjectly brainless", "often just plain wrong", and "like teaching ... phlogiston and ether in physics class" are Gintis' phrases. I like how defenders of the mainstream cannot and will not defend economics as taught.
Gintis also gives only two stars to Ontology and Economics: Tony Lawson and His Critics. Basically, he disagrees that "Lawson's arguments are so powerful that few economists now feel that his case can be ignored." According to Gintis, his case can too be ignored; economists just ignore methodology. Gintis doesn't really engage the give and take in the book. I think he should have noted his agreement with John Davis's take on the openness of mainstream economics to some kinds of heterodox contributions.
I found this review of a recent George Soros book of interest. Some blame the current financial meltdown on failures of either individual or collective rationality. Gintis says that even if everybody were as rational as some (Chicago?) economists posit, market fundamentalism would still be unfounded. He bases this claim on the failure of the Arrow-Debreu model of General Equilibrium to have any attractive dynamical properties. He recommends agent-based modeling to analyze capitalist economies.
Gintis has quite a few positive reviews of rightists. For example, he gives four stars to Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. (Despite most of the reviews I'm highlighting, he also has some extremely positive reviews for liberals and leftists.) I think his reviews of right wing books generate more comments, and Gintis replies. (The worst are full of passionate intensity.) One review of a book that I would think is not worth reading currently has 103 comments.
In addition to politics and economics, he has also reviewed books on language, biology, and logic. I want to recall the existence of Torkel Franzen's Godel's Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse.
6 months ago