Toxic Textbooks

real-world economics review / post-autistic economics review

Received by mail:
From: real-world economics review
Date: 18/05/2009

Dear 11,000 subscribers of the real-world economics review, 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 Toxic Textbooks 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 on 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.

When after having become a member and you get to the Toxic Textbooks group page, if you could post something, anything, on the discussion board or on the Wall that would be great.

If you would encourage a couple of your colleagues or students to join or if you would place links for the movement on your website, that would be better still.
Thank you for your help, Edward Fullbrook, editor.

*****

(Also the manifesto in Spanish).

Toxic Textbooks:

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.

Mass miseducation: Every year these “mainstream” books serve to indoctrinate millions of students in a quaint ideology (perfect rationality of economic agents, market efficiency, the invisible hand, etc.) cunningly disguised as science. This mass miseducation deprives society of the moral and intellectual capacities it needs in order to design and maintain the support systems required by market economies.

We need new, non-toxic textbooks: More economic catastrophes will befall us and our children if we do not replace these toxic textbooks with non-toxic ones immediately. If decency and good sense prevail in academia, then affecting this reform will not be a problem. But textbook reform will damage many economic faculties and toxic textbook authors. The former will suffer losses to their reputations, the latter to their royalties, which in some cases run to millions of dollars.

Together, we can overcome these vested interests: Society can therefore expect well-placed and richly-funded strategic resistance to doing the right and necessary thing. The Facebook group Toxic Textbooks and the website Toxic Textbooks.com exist to help citizens, especially students, mobilize and organize themselves to overcome these vested interests.

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