By Katy, organizer of the Minneapolis Naked Capitalism meetups, who currently lives in Seattle
Critical thinking is a skill. It isn’t a natural skill, but it can be taught. Naked Capitalism routinely casts a critical eye on the news stories of the day. And at the same time, it has taught me to also be skeptical of what I read and hear in the news media. This educational aspect is one of the many reasons that I am supporting Naked Capitalism in this fundraiser. So if you haven’t done so yet, I urge you to go to the fundraiser page and contribute generously.
I’m a relative newcomer to this site. For chronological context, I came in around Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part 4.
Ironically, I can thank the neo-McCarthyist site PropOrNot for bringing me here. In late 2016, after the infamous presidential election, I was curious to know what propaganda the Russians were spreading, and PropOrNot very helpfully directed me to non-mainstream news outlets, including Naked Capitalism. What I found was that “the Russians” were confirming some of my intuitions about the status of politics and the economy in the United States. Also, they were not actually Russians.
When I first started reading Naked Capitalism, I wished that I’d had an education in economics and finance so that I could understand some of the more technical articles. But in retrospect, I am glad that I never had to endure the sophistry that is endemic throughout these fields.
Instead, I became a regular reader of Naked Capitalism, and learned about economics and finance through the in-depth articles posted here. My instructors were Yves, Lambert, and Jerri-Lynn, as well as Michael Hudson, Bill Black, and JD Alt. I was also introduced to other thinkers who are critical of the mainstream news media—I’m especially thinking of Lee Camp, who is great at explaining how newspapers like the New York Times and NPR use propaganda to push a pro-war, pro-corporate agenda. And of course, there are many other authors whose work has appeared on this site, and who have influenced how I think about current events and politics—too many to name here!
If I had taken an economics class, I’d like to think that I would have seen through the charlatanism of mainstream economic theory right away. But I’m not so sure. The promoters come across as being intelligent, authoritative, and reasonable if you don’t know any better. But by reading Naked Capitalism, I have learned to see through the smoke and mirrors. I’m grateful to Naked Capitalism for introducing me to the debunkers and critical thinkers who are working to expose the truth. I hope you are too and will join me at the Tip Jar in backing this important effort.
Nice piece Katy – your words resonate with me. Like you I never studied economics, but eventually felt that I had to understand more as part of my job as an environmental scientist working in development.
A seminal moment came many years ago during a meeting at the Int. Coffee Org, when the CEO told me that low coffee prices were ‘good’ and that the comparative advantage economics of David Ricardo proved it. I felt in my bones there was something wrong with his argument but it took me ages to figure out why.
I’ve tried many times to get through economics books and mostly failed – the arguments and presentation seem deliberately obfuscatory. An exception is the brilliant “Economics – the user’s guide” by Ha Joon Chang.
Indeed anything by Ha Joon is worth reading or watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdbbcO35arw
Hat tip to PropOrNot!