Friday, December 09, 2005

R. Preston McAfee on Economic Analysis

Well, it seems that there is at least one eccentric and brave professor in America, and he's mad as hell about the greed of journal and textbook publishers. He also complains bitterly about the dumbing down of education. 'Textbooks have gotten dumb and dumber as publishers seek to satisfy the student who prefers to learn nothing. Many have gotten so dumb ("simplified") so as to be simply incorrect. And they want $100 for this schlock?'

Which reminds me. About fifteen years ago a colleague of mine was due to give a public lecture in which, in passing, he was going to make an incredibly mild criticism of the racket which was then practised by the late, and unlamented, Robert Maxwell, in charging steadily increasing prices for academic journals. Because he knew that Maxwell retained a team of lawyers who did nothing else except bully and threaten anyone who said anything untoward about the fat monster, my friend took legal advice. He was strongly advised to remove even the mildest comment on the business practices of Mr Maxwell. Which he did.

So don't underestimate the courage required to say the kind of things that R. Preston McAfee is saying. And, more to the point, McAfee is acting on his opinions. The Creative Commons blog has the details.

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