Tuesday, May 19, 2009

toxic textbooks helped cause the economic meltdown

The current economic meltdown is not the result of natural causes or human conspiracy, but because society at all levels became infected with false beliefs regarding the nature of economic reality. And the primary sources of this infection are the “neoclassical” or “mainstream” textbooks long used in introductory economics courses in universities throughout the world.

A new movement (its manifesto is at the bottom of this message) is being launched to encourage universities and schools to use economics textbooks that engage honestly with the real world.

Recently several prominent economists, including Hodgson and Keen, have publicly called for worldwide student protest to help bring about serious change in academic economics, especially in teaching. Although the circumstances for this have never been so favourable, the problem is how to get protest started up to the point where it becomes self-sustaining and nationally and internationally contagious.

To this end a website www.toxictextbooks.com has been set up and, more importantly, also a Facebook group named Toxic Textbooks. The Facebook group is intended to provide the means by which students and others can organize themselves and spread the word.

Three or four minutes, literally, of help from each of you will give this movement a big kick start. I imagine that most of you, like myself until a few days ago, have had no experience with Facebook. But the thinking is: if it worked for Obama, it might also work for us.

Most of you are teachers of economics rather than students, and, true, this Facebook group is more likely to be run on the contributions of the many students who we hope will join it. But seeding it and legitimising protest by students is a very important role.

Joining Facebook and then the group is dead easy. Click facebook.com. Now all you need to give them is your name, email address and date of birth, which if you request, as I did, they promise not to reveal. Skip the optional rest (no photo required), click and you are signed up – two minutes.

Now to join Toxic Textbooks, click on "View and edit your profile". At the very bottom of the screen there should be a toolbar labelled "Applications". Click on the first icon to the right, a pair of heads, and this takes you to Groups. In the "Search for Groups" box at the top of the page type in Toxic Textbooks and click. A Toxic Textbooks rectangle should appear with a "Join Group" box on right. Click it, and then click "join" again and that's it.