Beauty and the Beast - Sam Tsui & Casey Breves

Niall Ferguson is bad for your paper!

You cannot write a well written history paper with solid facts if Niall Ferguson is your main source.  He conviviality ignores the fact that the Virginia company was started with the sole purpose of making a profit, at the same time he vilifies the Spanish for wanting to get rich, which is just another retelling of the Black Legend.  He perpetuates Islamophobia, blaming the religion for the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which he has managed to set well before the end of WWI.  Also he’s addicted to the idea that the British Imperialism is the best thing that ever happened to the world.  In Civilization: The West and the Rest, he is disorganized and this is a problem for all the non-history majors in a certain WOH-2001 class, who have never been taught how to do research for a history paper, have no idea what they’re looking at.  If you use Ferguson get another source and check Ferguson against it, or better yet find another source and forget Ferguson.

Being fact-checked is not very fun. Good fact-checkers have a preternatural inclination toward pedantry, and sometimes will address you in a prosecutorial tone. That is their job and the adversarial tone is even more important than the actual facts they correct. In my experience, seeing your name on the cover of a magazine will take you far in the journey toward believing your own bullshit. It is human to do so, and fact-checkers serve as a valuable check to prevent writers from lapsing into the kind of arrogant laziness which breeds plagiarism and the manufacture of facts. The fact-checker (and the copy-editor too actually) is a dam against you embarrassing yourself, or worse, being so arrogant that don’t even realize you’ve embarrassed yourself. Put differently, a culture of fact-checking, of honesty, is as important as the actual fact-checking.
Niall Ferguson: The 6 killer apps of prosperity

Let’s talk about billions. Let’s talk about past and future billions. We know that about 106 billion people have ever lived. And we know that most of them are dead. And we also know that most of them live or lived in Asia. And we also know that most of them were or are very poor – did not live for very long. Let’s talk about billions. Let’s talk about the 195,000 billion dollars of wealth in the world today. We know that most of that wealth was made after the year 1800. And we know that most of it is currently owned by people we might call Westerners: Europeans, North Americans, Australasians. 19 percent of the world’s population today, Westerners own two-thirds of its wealth.

Economic historians call this “The Great Divergence.” And this slide here is the best simplification of the Great Divergence story I can offer you. It’s basically two ratios of per capita GDP, per capita gross domestic product, so average income. One, the red line, is the ratio of British to Indian per capita income. And the blue line is the ratio of American to Chinese. And this chart goes back to 1500. And you can see here that there’s an exponential Great Divergence. They start off pretty close together. In fact, in 1500, the average Chinese was richer than the average North American. When you get to the 1970s, which is where this chart ends, the average Briton is more than 10 times richer than the average Indian. And that’s allowing for differences in the cost of living. It’s based on purchasing power parity. The average American is nearly 20 times richer than the average Chinese by the 1970s.

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Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.
—  Niall Ferguson

Truth in the Age of Niallism

Here are three facts about how the 10-year budget outlook has changed in the past year: 1) the fiscal cliff deal raised $600 billion in new revenue; 2) the sequester, if left in place, cut $1.2 trillion; 3) the CBO revised its projection for federal healthcare spending down by $600 billion.

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson has a counterfactual take. Here’s how he described how our debt trajectory changed the past year:

A very striking feature of the latest CBO report is how much worse it is than last year’s. A year ago, the CBO’s extended baseline series for the federal debt in public hands projected a figure of 52% of GDP by 2038. That figure has very nearly doubled to 100%. A year ago the debt was supposed to glide down to zero by the 2070s. This year’s long-run projection for 2076 is above 200%. In this devastating reassessment, a crucial role is played here by the more realistic growth assumptions used this year.”

This isn't a difference of opinion. It’s incorrect. But it’s incorrect for reasons that will escape casual readers.

Read more.

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Niall Ferguson: By 2021 There Could Be A Restored Middle Eastern Caliphate.

Niall Ferguson spoke with The Telegraph about what he believes the world may look like 10-years from now, in 2021.

Key points:

  • China will be the largest economy in the world by 2021
  • No guarantees the euro will still exist
  • The U.S. could europeanize itself, or it could revitalize itself
  • Tiny possibility we get western-style democracies in the Middle East
  • More alarming to think about a “restored caliphate”
  • Germany’s love of European integration under threat
What the Spaniards had failed to understand is that the value of precious metal is not absolute. Money is worth only what someone else is willing to give you for it. An increase in its supply will not make a society richer, though it may enrich the government that monopolizes the production of money. Other things being equal, monetary expansion will merely make prices higher.
—  Niall Ferguson | The Ascent of Money
I should not have suggested - in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation - that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay. It is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations.
—  Harvard history professor and author Niall Ferguson • Apologizing for remarks he reportedly made during a conference in Carlsbad, California on Thursday. Ferguson, 49, while discussing famed early-20th century economist John Maynard Keynes, suggested he supported government spending during recessions because he was gay, and had no children, thus caring less for future generations. He’s apologized for that, though in that rather hedging way that so characterizes public figures’ apologies — he also didn’t back away from his central claim, that the influential economist cared little for the long run. source
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At the 12:30 mark of this interview, Niall Ferguson says we didn’t identify a single error in his Newsweek cover story. You be the judge.

En 1687, Isaac Newton publicó sus ‘Principia’. Tres años más tarde, su amigo John Locke publicaba su segundo 'Tratado sobre el gobierno civil’. Si algo vino a diferenciar a Occidente de Oriente fue la muy distinta medida que aquel nuevo y profundo conocimiento fue sistemáticamente estudiado y aplicado.
—  Niall Ferguson, “Civilización: Occidente y el resto”
I was surrounded by insufferable Etonians with fake Cockney accents who imagined themselves to be working-class heroes in solidarity with the striking miners. It wasn’t long before it became clear that the really funny and interesting people on campus were Thatcherites.
—  Niall Ferguson
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Niall Ferguson: The 6 killer Apps of Prosperity