(To Appear in Academia Letters, 2021)

Abstract: The term “science” represents a claim to universality, but modern social science is based on lessons from European historical experience. Why, then, does it claim to have universal application? We suggest that Weber’s dictum that social science should be value free led to the concealment of Eurocentric values within an apparently objective framework governed by “rationality”.

1 Generalizations from European Historical Experience?

Introduction: Briefly, we can state the puzzle as: “Why does Social Science claim to be UNIVERSAL, when it is based on analysis of European historical experience?”. Many authors have recognized this problem, which manifests itself in…

Introduction: In a previous lecture, we gave a New Definition of Probability. In this lecture, we will show how this definition enables us to resolve the massive amount of controversy which surrounds an apparently simple probability puzzle, known as the Monty-Hall problem. The book The Power of Logical Thinking, quotes cognitive psychologist Massimo Piattelli Palmarini: “No other statistical puzzle comes so close to fooling all the people all the time [and] even Nobel physicists systematically give the wrong answer, and that they insist on it, and they are ready to berate in print those who propose the right answer.”

A huge part of the intellectual journey in my life has involved freeing myself from the positivist blinders that were part of our university education. The empiricist philosophy emerges from the rejection of God, and goes on to the rejection of all unobservables. This has created huge problems in understanding probability, which requires consideration of the inherently unobservable “what might have happened”. As a result the dominant definition is limiting frequency — which appears to have a shot at being observable. This is NOT a coherent definition when you dig into the details. I have been struggling with finding a…

Among the many dimensions I have listed in “New Directions in Macroeconomics”, the most important is the moral dimension. If we take Adam Smith as the founder, economics was born as a branch of moral philosophy. However, modern economists claim that the subject is purely positive and scientific, and makes no value judgments. Before we can discuss moral dimensions of economic theories, we must counter this claim, and establish that, contrary to claims made by economists, the subject is deeply and inherently normative. The level of cognitive dissonance required to maintain that economics is objective and value free is much…

This is a review and a summary of some of the key arguments presented by Mian and Sufi in their recent book “House of Debt.” It highlights the contribution of Mian and Sufi by showing how they have solved the mystery of why there was a huge drop in aggregate demand during the Great Depression of 1929 and also following the recent Global Financial Crisis of 2007–8. The article shows how major economists like Keynes, Friedman, Lucas and others tried and failed to provide an adequate explanation of this mystery. The key to the mystery is the huge amount of…

Images from FreePik

There has been a revolution in terms of understanding causal inference, launched by Judea Pearl and associates, and based on a graph-theoretic approach. As Pearl, Glymour, and Jewell (2016. Causal Inference: A Primer) state: “More has been learned about causal inference in the last few decades than the sum total of everything that had been learned about it in all prior recorded history. … Yet this excitement remains barely seen among statistics educators, and is essentially absent from textbooks of statistics and econometrics.” Current practice of statistics and econometrics is very much like archaic medical treatments, which inflicted more pain…

In this lecture, we will examine global corruption rankings in light of The Four Central Questions which are central to our approach:

  1. WHY are we doing corruption rankings of countries?
  2. What do the numbers mean?
  3. How are they calculated?
  4. What is the impact of the creation of these corruption rankings?

This lecture is based on Zaman, Asad and Rahim, Faiz, Corruption: Measuring the Unmeasurable Humanomics, Vol. 25, №2, pp. 117–126, June 2009. https://ssrn.com/abstract=1309131

We start by thinking about “ Why we assign NUMBERS to corruption? “ After all, it is qualitative condition of the heart, not subject to measurement. …

Free Banking: Profusion of Currencies

RG2 (Reading Guide 2) — Continues from previous post Readers Guide 1: Goodhart on Evolution of Central Banks . Write-up is given following the ten minute video:


Goodhart starts by discussing discontent with Central Banking System. He wrote this book well before the GFC 2007 -8, which has created much greater discontent. There are two different lines of attack on Central Banking:

  1. Free Banking : Private Creation and Provision of Money. …

[RG1-Readers Guide 1] This is an introductory post of a sequence on the history of Central Banking, built around Charles Goodhart’s book on the Evolution of Central Banking. We would plan to read one chapter a week and discuss it on posts and/or comments on posts on this blog. Those who formally register on the Google Form: History of Central Banking will be put on an email discussion group for the book, and also get a link to download a copy of the book itself. …

This is the 3rd of a series of 9 posts on Foundations of Probability. This continues from previous post (Three Types of Probability) . Section 2 of the paper “Subjective Probability Does Not Exist“ is entitled “Risk Versus Uncertainty”, and explains how a (false) technical argument, which continues to be widely accepted and believed, banished uncertainty from the world, and replaced it by risk.

Section 2: Risk Versus Uncertainty.

“… the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong …” Ecclesiastes 9:11

In this section, we recapitulate an intellectual battle about the nature of probability…

Asad Zaman

BS Math MIT 74, MS Stat 76 & Ph.D. Econ 78 Stanford

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